In a New York Times op-ed this week, Peter Wehner, former George W. Bush speechwriter and a senior fellow at a conservative ethics group, wrote of a great awakening in the Christian evangelical community surrounding the #MeToo movement.
Christianity hasn’t been spared from the latest uprising of women demanding an end to sexual harassment and sexual assault. Certainly, the Catholic church has been fighting their own battles for at least a decade. But now they’re being faced with the hypocrisy of defending the immoral actions of a candidate because they believe the end result will be the far-right policies they seek.
He began with the horrifying example of Rev. Paige Patterson, president of the Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth and former president of the Southern Baptist Convention. The pastor was already under fire for his belief that abused women shouldn’t leave their marriages because wives should submit to the abuse of their husbands. That prompted 1,000 female Baptist leaders to call for his expulsion.
Now, it seems, the stories of Patterson are growing worse. Wehner unearthed a sermon from few years ago, in which Patterson “took delight” in recalling an incident of an encounter with a girl no more than 16 years old.
“Let me just say, she was nice,” Patterson said of the teen. A teen boy he was walking by also leered at the girl, saying, “Man, she is built.” The boy’s mother scolded him, but Patterson intervened.
“Ma’am, leave him alone. He is just being biblical. That’s exactly what the Bible says,” Patterson told his church audience. They responded with laughter and applause.
The same behavior has been seen with President Donald Trump, who leers at women, has been accused of sexual harassment, sexual assault and spousal rape. Evangelicals like Franklin Graham have excused Trump’s affair with adult film star Stormy Daniels as “nobody’s business.” When asked how this compares with his attacks on former President Bill Clinton, Graham explained that the latter had his affair while in office. Thus, the Clinton affair is somehow reprehensible but the Trump affair is “nobody’s business.”
“My problem with the white evangelical world and a lot of leaders people like Franklin Graham and Pastor [Robert] Jeffress is not that they have reluctantly supported Trump because of his agenda,” Wehner told MSNBC’s Stephanie Ruhle. “It’s that they are the sword and the shield of Donald Trump. They won’t challenge him on any grounds no matter what he says or what he does. They have beliefs that they have held for decades and have become complicit in this.”
He went on to say that they are discrediting the Christian church with their behavior.
It “should be a voice for moral good and at most especially should side with the people who have been abused and marginalized and are on the out-skirts and shadows of society,” Wehner continued. “Donald Trump’s whole M.O. is to de-humanize people.”
Watch the full conversation below and read Wehner’s op-ed at the New York Times: