One of the most vocal warriors in the fight against gay marriage is Family Research Council President Tony Perkins. But when it comes to President Trump’s alleged history of defiling the sacrament of marriage, Perkins says evangelicals like him are willing to look the other way as long as Trump delivers on policy.
“We kind of gave him—‘All right, you get a mulligan. You get a do-over here,’” Perkins told POLITICO this Tuesday.
Reports that Trump paid a porn star $130,000 back in 2006 to stay quiet on an alleged affair they had — weeks after his son Barron was born to his wife Melania — are putting the religious right’s dismissals of his character front and center again. But Perkins isn’t sweating it. According to him, conservatives were “tired of being kicked around by Barack Obama and his leftists. And I think they are finally glad that there’s somebody on the playground that is willing to punch the bully.”
“Look, Christianity is not all about being a welcome mat which people can just stomp their feet on,” he added.
In all the clashes between principles and power over the past two years, conservative evangelicals can seem to have made one of the biggest and more confusing trade-offs—at least to outside observers. After all, they say the roots of their beliefs go far deeper than partisan concerns.
The ‘trade-off’ became all too apparent when even after the release of the infamous Access Hollywood tape, where Trump can be heard bragging about sexually assaulting women, he was was able to garner an earth-moving 80 percent of the evangelical vote. But as POLITICO points out, that support is starting to drop off. Either way, the evangelical movement’s most vocal and visible leaders are sticking with Trump because he’s pushing their agenda.
Perkins cheers the White House’s restrictive posture toward abortion rights and its “religious freedom” executive orders (which critics allege are part of a thinly veiled attempt to legalize discrimination against LGBTQ Americans). He says his only gripe with the administration is that Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is not doing enough to stop abortions and liberal activism around the world. “We’re seeing Soros dollars being connected with USAID funds, and they’re creating these pro-abortion, pro-communist groups in some cases, working to take down conservative governments,” Perkins says.
Franklin Graham, son of the legendary evangelist Bill Graham, shared a similar sentiment during an appearance on MSNBC this Saturday. According to Graham, Trump’s alleged sexual failing don’t matter because no one expects him to be “president perfect.”
“Now did he have an affair with this woman? I have no clue, but I believe that 70 years of age, the president is a much different person today than he was four years ago, five years ago, ten years ago or whatever and we just have to give the man the benefit of the doubt,” Graham said.
As far as Perkins goes, the only thing he’d change about Trump is his tweeting. But as long as he stays on message, Perkins say evangelicals will be on board.
“Whenever the policy stops, and his administration reverts to just personality, that’s where I believe the president will be in trouble.”
You can listen to Perkins on POLITICO’s Off Message podcast here.
Featured image via screen grab/YouTube