For a long time, white evangelical voters have faced the conundrum of how to support a president who lies, commits adultery, and essentially opposes all of their stated values — even while delivering core goals of their movement, like a new bench of radically anti-abortion judges.
One of the biggest pet peeves of many evangelical supporters of Trump, according to Julie Zauzmer of the Washington Post, is that he consistently breaks the Third Commandment: He takes God’s name in vain. In one recent example, at Trump’s speech to Republicans in Baltimore this week, he referred to alternative energy as “those goddamn windmills.”
Even many of Trump’s firmest supporters consider this blasphemy. “I certainly do not condone taking the Lord’s name in vain. There is a whole commandment dedicated to prohibiting that,” said Texas megachurch pastor and Trump spiritual adviser Robert Jeffress. “I think it’s very offensive to use the Lord’s name in vain. I can take just about everything else, except that.”
Meanwhile, one West Virginia state Senator received a bunch of angry messages from his pro-Trump constituents after the rally in Greenville, North Carolina — not because Trump sat idly by as his supporters chanted “Send her back!” of Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN), but because Trump said that ISIS will “be hit so goddamn hard,” and recounted warning a businessman, “If you don’t support me, you’re going to be so goddamn poor.”
Former psychology professor Timothy Jay, who has extensively studied how people swear, told the Post that this is not at all unusual. “I’ve done surveys where I ask people: What’s the most offensive word?” he said. “Some [religious] women would say the word ‘f*ck,’ but they wouldn’t say ‘Jesus Christ.’ Some of my interviewees have said, ‘We could say ‘f*ck’ and ‘sh*t’ at home, but we weren’t allowed to use profane language.” (Profane language being misuse of religious words, as opposed to obscene language, which describes body functions, like sex or excrement.)
But none of this is likely to make Jeffress or other evangelical supporters of Trump lose their support for him — for reasons that Jeffress himself put best.
“He enjoys a tremendous amount of support from people of faith not because of his language, but in spite of his language,” said Jeffress. “Most Americans did not oppose the salty language of General Patton. All they cared about was that he led us to victory. Many Christians believe we are in a war … for the culture, a war for the soul of America.”