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Trump faces growing evangelical backlash

The candidate’s remarks and new allegations of sexual assault garner fresh criticism

John Piper DesiringGod.org

Trump faces growing evangelical backlash

Most conservative evangelicals have given Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump a long leash this election season, but the past week’s revelations were the breaking point for some, including theologian Wayne Grudem, who renounced Trump after previously calling him the “morally good choice” in the election.

Following WORLD’s call for Trump to drop out of the race, John Piper tweeted, “Of course, Trump should step down as Olasky and Grudem say. So should Hillary.”

Albert Mohler, president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, told CNN, “Evangelicals are going to have to ask a huge question: Is it worth destroying our moral credibility to support someone who is beneath the baseline level of human decency? ... That’s a far bigger question than the 2016 election.”

The Gospel Coalition editor Joe Carter wrote on Facebook, “The election will be over in 26 days. Your defense of a serial sexual predator will live on the internet for long after. Choosing honor and decency now will pay off for you later. Choose wisely.”

Samuel Rodriguez, president of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference, told me Bible-believing Christians should “prayerfully consider the option of not voting for either candidate in this election. … Instead, focus on building a firewall in the House and the Senate to promote life, religious liberty, and limited government.”

Last month WORLD’s regular survey of evangelical influencers found more than half still refused to support Trump. This week the Barna Group released a survey showing 43 percent of evangelicals rejected both Trump and Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton.

But Liberty University president Jerry Falwell Jr., whose father led calls for then-President Bill Clinton’s resignation in 1998, has staunchly and actively defended Trump on social media and in interviews. He told CNN he would support Trump even if the new allegations were true, adding, “We aren’t electing a pastor.”

A group of Liberty students called Liberty United Against Trump, though, released a sharp statement decrying the university’s association with the controversial businessman: “Trump does not represent our values, and we want nothing to do with him. … Not only is Donald Trump a bad candidate for president, he is actively promoting the very things that we as Christians ought to oppose.”

About 1,000 Liberty students, faculty, and alumni signed the statement in the first 24 hours after its release. During the Virginia primary, only 8 percent of Liberty students voted for Trump.

It does not appear that any members of Trump’s evangelical advisory panel have resigned. Political operative Ralph Reed, who chairs the panel, reiterated his support for Trump. Panel member Bishop Harry Jackson said he does not intend to revoke his endorsement: “The majority of us on that advisory council feel that, if elected, Mr. Trump is going to fight for freedom of Christian expression. … We don’t want to hold him prisoner to his past.”

Mohler called that approach misguided: “We have to understand we wouldn’t want this man as our next-door neighbor, much less an inhabitant of Pennsylvania Avenue. … Long term, I’m afraid people are going to remember evangelicals in this election for supporting the unsupportable and defending the absolutely indefensible.”

Some other well-known evangelicals who have stated their opposition to Trump:

Danny Akin, president of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary Joel Belz, founder of World News Group Rosaria Champagne Butterfield, speaker, author of The Secret Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert Michael Cromartie, author, vice president of the Ethics and Public Policy Center Andy Crouch, author, executive editor of Christianity Today Steve Deace, author, host of The Steve Deace Show Kevin DeYoung, author, contributor at The Gospel Coalition, pastor of University Reformed Church in East Lansing, Mich. Erick Erickson, author at The Resurgent, host of Atlanta’s Evening News with Erick Erickson, former editor of RedState Max Lucado, author, preaching pastor of Oak Hills Church in San Antonio, Texas Russell Moore, author, president of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention Karen Swallow Prior, author, English professor at Liberty University Julie Roys, Moody Radio host Owen Strachan, author, associate professor of Christian theology at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, former president of The Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood Ed Stetzer, author, pastor, professor at Wheaton College Jemar L. Tisby, president and co-founder of the Reformed African American Network Mark Tooley, president of the Institute on Religion and Democracy

Some prominent evangelicals who say they plan to vote for Trump:

James Dobson, founder of Focus on the Family Jerry Falwell Jr., president of Liberty University Jim Garlow, pastor of Skyline Church in San Diego Wayne Grudem, theologian, professor at Phoenix Seminary, co-founder of The Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood Harry Jackson, pastor, founder of High Impact Leadership Coalition Robert Jeffress, pastor of First Baptist Church in Dallas John MacArthur, pastor of Grace Community Church in Sun Valley, Calif.; president of the Master’s College and Seminary Eric Metaxas, author, radio host Tony Perkins, president of Family Research Council Ralph Reed, chairman of Faith and Freedom Coalition Joel C. Rosenberg, author, founder of the Joshua Fund Tim Wildmon, president of American Family Association Charmaine Yoest, former president of Americans United for Life

WORLD will update these lists as more leaders go on the record.

UPDATE: On Oct. 19, Wayne Grudem changed course again, advocating that conservatives vote for the policies attributed to Donald Trump.

This article was updated on Oct. 14 to include additional evangelical leaders who oppose Donald Trump and a list of prominent evangelicals who plan to vote for the GOP nominee. The lists were updated again on Nov. 7.

J.C. Derrick J.C. is a former reporter and editor for WORLD.


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In this country, God has ordained voting as the means to choose those who rule over us. We know that Clinton will appoint judges that will abridge our religious liberties and freedom to speak the Gospel in the public square. She will continue open borders and even bring unvetted refugees and terrorists into our country.  She will raise our taxes to pay for an ever more controlling secular government.  She will lie to us on every level and will put her personal power above any consideration for "We the People. " Her election will place a known sexual predator and pedophile back into the White House.  If you do not vote for Trump, you ARE voting for Clinton.  How does that advance the Gospel? How is that the 'right or moral thing' to do? 


It's still immoral vs. amoral (she is WAY above the law).  We need to vote for someone who can at least conceive of religious liberty; protecting the country, and most likely surrounding himself with some cabinet members who will not be sold out to Satan.  Also, he will probably not harm the SCOTUS.  We have the right to vote now.  Our pastors have the freedom to read the Word of God out loud to their congregations.  Are we going to throw it all away?  I am not going to tell my children that I just couldn't see beyond sexual sin for the sake of their future.  It's not about today and its inherent sins - it's about what is coming down the road and will we stand up against them.   


Re: web editor response

If the end of Piper's statement was left out unintentionally, was the second article about both being unfit for office also a response to questions of bias?  I appreciate, value and pray for World but they have made a mistake here.  By initially omitting the end of Piper's statement and focusing on Trump and not also Hillary's unfitness, they have made Hillary out to be the more viable candidate,


Doesn't world realize you are fitting into the MSM and Clintons playbook. His remarks are degrading for women. But talk is different than action. The claims are unsubstantiated for physical abuse of women. I supported Ted Cruz and I will vote for Trump for the same reasons Ted supports him. If the physical abuse of women is proven I will change my opinion. It's interesting that the allegations come up suddenly at the 11 hour before the election. I believe our country will cease to exist as a constitutional republic if Clinton is elected. Our God is sovereign but he gave up a brain to choose one who supports religious liberty.

Andy Knudsen


Liberty's on campus voting is shown under the Third Ward Second Precinct. Mr. Trump earned 7.65% of our votes.

However, you are correct that Pence was well supported on Wednesday and I think that Mr. Trump will sadly get over 50% of Liberty voters in the general election due to the students' general opposition to former Secretary Clinton.


I listened to the 10/12/16 broadcast by Chuck Crismier at Save America Ministries.  He called this election an "in your face judgment from God".  His point was that we are looking at the political canditates immoral lives, but actually, they are just a reflection of what happens in every day America.  He called us to look at our own private lives.  Is there pornography in our homes? Why is the divorce rate of American pastors the same as those of thier congregations. The abuse rate is the same as in unbelievers homes.  There are unbelievers who have morality that is above some professed Christains. Crismier's argument is that we need to clean up our personal lives, homes, and churches before we can condem unbelievers for acting like unbelievers. While I do not want either candidtate, I have to agree with Crismier.

Steve SoCal

Thanks, fats..., but anyone can write a list.  Which of these items are verifiable, and what about some names and dates?  Again, I'd like real journalists at "World" to answer these kinds of questions... and for Hillary, too... because they would be obliged to provide details to verify their accusations.


@SouthernFlyer, I am an Okie and I think I will write in Dr. Tom Coburn or as the Democrats call him, Dr. No. 


Under that same logic, we can't say anything about Hillary...or ANYBODY.  Empty argument. Contact me and I'll be happy to provide Biblical foundations that actually go against what you are suggesting. 

Steve Shive

Thanks J.C. Very good article. And predictably World is attacked. World's theology is attacked since it must be painfully obvious that Trump stepping down shows that World, whoever that is, Mr. Olasky? Joel Belz? doesn't trust in God's sovereignty. A silly notion all by itself. But it is easy to comment. It would seem to me that calling for him to step down, or not voting for either of the two major party "cretins", probably an apt description, would show great faith in God's sovereignty. By doing the right and difficult thing. By following our moral compass and taking a step of faith, which  against seeming logic and all of the political wrangling and speculation, would allow God to work in His way in our decaying country. We act because it is right. Not because we calculate that we will win. That is not faith. That is not faith in the God of eternity.

Having a daughter who graduated from Liberty. Having heard Trump (and Pence) via internet at their respective Convocations. I am appalled at Falwell Junior's obstinate support. His support of Trump and the 2nd Amendment (I was at this year's commencement)  we feed the popular myth that Christ is not as important as gun rights and extreme right wing demagoguery. Or truculent candidates. Or Mel Gibson? (you had to be there)

As an afterthought I do wonder about the 8% LU Trump vote number from the Primary. Where does that number come from? I thought voting was in secret. Was this from exit polls? There does seem to be some information in that LU student post that is slanted to support their view. I also saw that Pence was supposedly not supported well in the LU convocation. That is not true. 


Journalism as we knew it, is officially gone. The left has taken over and are pushing their narrative through nearly every single outlet without any attempt at balance. So sad. American people lose. Did anyone cover the 14000 supporters at yesterday's Ocala rally? Day after day, unprecidented crowds and yet media elites ignore. 


I agree with Piper; both should stand down.  Hillary hold no moral advantage over Trump.  But given the unlikelihood of both standing down, Samuel Rodriguez advice makes sense; but can it be accomplished?


Why should we support him?  If God is in control, we don't have to actively support a despicable candidate.  Frankly, if we'd all been more concerned abou who Gi8d wanted us to vote for instead of voting for the "candidate most likely to win" we wouldn't be where we are.


Don't forget Beth Moore.

Paul B. Taylor

It's time for Mr. Trump to consider his spiritual condition.  He has a past, but, if he considers his wretched sin and his wholeheartedly lost condition, he might and may find solace in Christ.  I will pray that he is called within and that he would then be justified by faith alone.  The time for him seems ripe for his prayer, as well.  Indeed, as a response to his current trials and tribulations, he should most certainly, by the grace of the triune God, decide to turn to the narrow, rough road, and never to forget to keep the Sabbath a delight.  If this happens by the providence of our creator, we will have a sincere evangelical president found by Jesus Christ and named Donald Trump.