In an op-ed for The Dispatch this Monday, David French writes that Albert Mohler, the president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary -- a man who he respects deeply -- declared amid a coronavirus-devastated economy that he'd support President Trump in 2020 and every Republican candidate to come thereafter.
While Mohler had initially declined to support Trump over questions about his "moral character," previously saying that if he were to support, much less endorse Donald Trump for president, he "would actually have to go back and apologize to former President Bill Clinton" for all the critiques he leveled at him for his sexual improprieties.
"It’s well-established that a great number of white Evangelicals didn’t truly believe the words they wrote, endorsed, and argued in 1998 and for 18 years until the 2016 election," French writes. "Oh sure, they thought they believed those words. If someone challenged their convictions with a lie detector test, they would have passed with flying colors."
With Trump, evangelicals have abandoned character tests, and Mohler's reversal signifies a trend where as long as the policies on gay rights, abortion, and other issues from the culture wars fit their agenda, evangelicals will saddle up with whoever is available. But as the coronavirus pandemic shows, Trump's incompetence is now a liability for evangelicals.
According to French, when Trump clearly does not represent the interests of regular every-day evangelicals, the excuse that he's at least good for the checklist of issues they care about no longer flies in the age of coronavirus.
"...when vulnerable Americans suffer mightily from the health and economic consequences of a global pandemic the president minimized, the response can’t be the checklist," French writes. "White Evangelical leaders owe us a serious argument as to why that checklist trumps character and competence in the leader of the free world."
Read his full op-ed over at The Dispatch.