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81% of evangelical Christians voted for Donald Trump last year, despite his bragging about sexual assault, despite his multiple marriages, despite his wealth and complete lack of concern for the poor, despite his flip-flopping on matters of abortion and saying women who had them needed to be punished, despite the lies and racism and bigotry. It seems like they were going to vote for whoever the Republican candidate was no matter what.
And that no matter what continues to play out today. Trump is a deeply unpopular president whose decisions and morals are constantly questioned. He may be nominating the Religious Right’s Dream Team to judicial seats, including the Supreme Court, but beyond that, it’s hard to see how he fits the mold of a “family values” conservative who inspires loves for Jesus.
So how did he do it? How did he convince evangelicals to support him, not just in the election, but to this day? And will there be any consequences for evangelicals moving forward?
Stephen Mansfield explores all those questions in his new book Choosing Donald Trump: God, Anger, Hope, and Why Christian Conservatives Supported Him.
Mansfield is the New York Times bestselling author of The Faith of George W. Bush, The Faith of Barack Obama, and Lincoln’s Battle with God, among other works of history and biography. Founder of The Mansfield Group, a research and publishing firm, he is also an in-demand speaker and consultant. He holds a doctorate in history and literature and makes his home in Nashville, Tennessee, and Washington, DC, with his wife, Beverly.
I spoke with him about whether Trump’s presidency will hurt evangelical Christianity, if there’s anything Trump can do to lose the Religious Right’s support, and why Trump’s pandering rhetoric is so powerful.