Evangelical support for Donald Trump did not waver in the two weeks after the release of video of the Republican nominee making vulgar remarks about women recorded on an open microphone in 2005, according to a new survey by Public Religion Research Institute/Brookings.
Three weeks before the election, nearly seven in 10 (69 percent) of white evangelical voters expressed support for Trump, according to poll results released Oct. 19. Support for Trump among white evangelical voters remained unchanged over the previous two weeks, while support for Hillary Clinton increased from a dead heat to a double-digit lead among likely voters in the general public.
The survey indicates Americans today are less likely to believe personal transgressions prevent public officials from performing their duties well, but the biggest shift is among white evangelical Protestants.
More than seven in 10 (72 percent) of white evangelical Protestants now say an elected official can behave ethically even if they have committed transgressions in their personal life — a 42-point jump from 2011.
Two influential evangelical leaders who appeared initially to abandon Trump over what the candidate dismissed as “locker room banter” Oct. 8 backpedaled their remarks over the next two weeks.
Bible teacher Beth Moore, who typically steers clear of politics, without mentioning Trump by name posted four tweets about her own experience with sexual assault and criticizing Christian leaders who don’t think it’s a big deal. Pundits called it evidence of a gender divide among evangelicals, with moderate and conservative Christian women fed up with misogyny and its male clergy enablers.
Moore later posted a clarification saying her Oct. 9 tweets were intended to speak up for sexually abused women and not an endorsement of either candidate. She wrote a blog post Oct. 18 urging readers to put their trust not in political candidates but in God.
Theologian Wayne Grudem, a founder of the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood, initially called Trump “a morally good choice” before urging him to withdraw from the election in a Townhall op-ed on Oct. 9. Ten days later Grudem said he finds both candidates morally objectionable but urged people to vote for Trump because of his policies.