Another evangelical leader has signaled support for Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, despite earlier predictions that Americans would be “bitterly disillusioned if he were to obtain the nation’s highest office.”
Richard Land, the Southern Baptist Convention’s former top public policy official, says Christians should vote for Trump as a lesser of evils in the November election.
Land, president of Southern Evangelical Seminary and former 25-year head of the SBC Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, told the Christian news website OneNewsNow that while voters don’t really have a good choice this election, the choice between the presumptive Republican nominee and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is clear.
“Frankly, I think we’re dealing with a choice between a lesser evil and a greater evil, and Mrs. Clinton is the greater evil,” Land said. “That’s my personal opinion, and if we don’t help the lesser evil prevail over the greater evil, we become responsible morally for helping the greater evil to prevail.”
Land’s opinion differs from his successor at the ERLC, who suggested in March voting for a third-party or write-in candidate as a way to “participate in the process without endorsing moral evil.”
“When Christians face two clearly immoral options, we cannot rationalize a vote for immorality or injustice just because we deem the alternative to be worse,” Moore said. “This side of the New Jerusalem, we will never have a perfect candidate. But we cannot vote for evil, even if it’s our only option.”
Moore, who last year co-penned a Washington Post commentary with then GOP candidate Marco Rubio, has emerged as a leading evangelical critic of Trump’s attitudes toward women and minorities, and especially Trump’s statement that he doesn’t think he needs to ask God for forgiveness.
Recently Moore described Trump as a lost soul in need of salvation.
“My primary prayer for Donald Trump is that he would first of all repent of sin and come to faith in Jesus Christ,” Moore said in an interview with CBN News June 3. “That’s my prayer for any lost person.”
In May Moore compared Trump’s candidacy to “reality television moral sewage” and “cultural rot” that conservatives used to oppose but “now want to put it on C-SPAN for the next four years.”
Trump retaliated by calling Moore a “truly terrible representative of evangelicals” and a “nasty guy with no heart.”
Early in the primary, Land said one of the most important qualities for a president is to be “a person of deep and consistent faith.”
“I’m as mystified as you are as to why evangelicals would vote for Donald Trump,” Land said in February. “They have attractive alternatives,” he said, such as Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas.
In March Land said he understands the voter anger behind the “populist uprising” in support for both Trump and Democratic challenger Bernie Sanders, but “whatever the problems may be, Donald Trump is not the answer.”
“I fear that the millions of Americans who are putting their trust in Mr. Trump will be bitterly disillusioned if he were to obtain the nation’s highest office,” Land predicted.
SBC President Ronnie Floyd plans to attend a closed-door meeting between Trump and evangelical leaders June 21 in New York City.
“While I have no intention of endorsing Donald Trump — or any other candidate for that matter — I believe it is incumbent upon me to learn all I can about each candidate and their platform,” Floyd said in a blog May 25.
“The truth is we cannot judge or know whether Mr. Trump is a true believer or not, that’s God’s business,” said Floyd, pastor of Cross Church in Northwest Arkansas. “What we do know is what he has said, and he says he will support those issues that conservative evangelicals are most concerned about. We also know that the Republican Party platform remains supportive of conservative judges, the dignity of human life, and preserving religious freedom.”
“I take that seriously,” Floyd said.