Back in 2016, if you asked any pro-Donald Trump evangelical or fundamentalist why they continued to support him even in the face of his daily outrages on the campaign trail, most of them would have told you that what really mattered was that he had promised to, among other things, appoint judges who would ban abortion and roll back marriage equality. Many of them felt that even though they knew Trump was an ogre, they couldn’t dare chance letting that radical liberal Hillary Clinton in the White House.
That explained, for instance, why many of them didn’t back away from Trump after the release of the “Access Hollywood” tapes. Incredibly, they claimed that none of that really mattered as much as ending abortion, rolling back marriage equality, and canceling a nuclear deal with Iran that they saw as a threat to Israel.
So it should come as no surprise that this support continued even after Trump’s upset victory. Even after Trump had few qualms about sharing hateful and violent memes on Twitter, calling women horribly degrading names, and display undemocratic and un-American attitudes about the press, the nation’s so-called moral guardians continued bowing down to Trump. John Fea, a history professor at Messiah College and himself an evangelical, has a nickname for them–“court evangelicals,” or evangelicals who believe the perception of influence over Trump is more important than their faith.
You would think that even for them, the extreme limit should have been reached on Wednesday night. In what has to stand as one of the worst moments in recent American political history, a crowd at a Trump rally in Greenville, North Carolina responded to Trump’s attacks on Congresswoman Ilhan Omar by chanting, “Send her back! Send her back!”
And the president of the United States stood there and allowed it to happen. This was outrageous enough by itself, but even more so considering that he told Omar and three other Democratic congresswomen that they ought to “go back” to their home countries–a statement that is explicitly deemed as racist by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
But at least one pro-Trump religious right luminary isn’t willing to walk away from Trump over this. His reasoning? Wait for it–no matter how bad Trump may be, he’s still better than a “radical” Democrat.
Michael L. Brown was one of the leaders of the Brownsville Revival at Brownsville Assembly of God in Pensacola, Florida. He struck out on his own in 2001, and now heads a ministry in my hometown of Charlotte that he bills as a continuation of Brownsville’s original spirit. He is best known for his unstinting opposition to LGBT rights, one of many factors that led him to hold his nose and vote for Trump in 2016. In his view, even with Trump’s faults, he was preferable to “a pro-abortion radical and an extreme supporter of the LGBT agenda.”
Brown hasn’t backed down one inch since then. In 2018, for instance, he actually claimed that if Trump was indeed erratic and unstable, it was all the more reason to vote Republican in the midterm elections. After all, the real issue was whether we would have congressmen who would “thwart or advance the president’s agenda”–and therefore, Trump’s leadership style didn’t matter.
If it were possible, Brown fell down even harder in his latest column for The Stream, a religious right blog/newsmagazine that he helms alongside another veteran culture warrior, James Robison. Brown wrote that he had no desire to defend the worst of Trump’s 280-character tirades, as well as his disgraceful conduct. However, as far as he was concerned, there are only three options in 2020–stay home, vote for a “radical liberal,” or vote for Trump. To his mind, the former two are not palatable, since either would result in a “radical liberal” Democrat as president.
That view didn’t change with the events of this week. Brown was displeased with Trump’s incendiary tweets at Omar and three other progressive congresswomen of color earlier in the week, though he didn’t think they were racist. He was also displeased with the “send her back” chant.
But that didn’t matter to him as much as his appointments to the courts. For instance, he touted the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals’ decision last month to allow the White House to strip funding from family planning clinics that refer patients for abortions while the executive action is being appealed. The Ninth Circuit has long been a whipping boy for conservatives, but Brown declared that it had been “transformed” as a result of Trump’s appointments.
Brown believes that Trump’s judicial appointments will “far outlast” his boorish behavior, and for that reason he is worthy of support. As far as he is concerned, ending abortion shouldn’t matter if the president who does so is “sometimes vulgar and crude.”
Wrong! Wrong! Wrong! Ending abortion should never be so important that we must condone a president who stands there and watches his followers direct racist chants at his foes. Nor should it be so important that we must condone a president who degrades women or believes critical coverage is fake news.
Let’s not beat around the bush. No cause should ever be so important that basic decency must be thrown out the window in order to further it. If Brown believes ending abortion is an exception to that principle, his moral compass is either warped or nonexistent.
Indeed, Brown’s post is all the more outrageous considering that it went live just hours after Trump all but applauded those who directed this chant at Omar–after seemingly having the decency to disavow them. Watch the team from MSNBC’s “11th Hour” discuss it here.
After initially saying that he wasn’t pleased with the chant, Trump said that he was really upset at the fact that “we have a congresswoman who can hate our country.” He praised the crowd in Greenville as “incredible people” and “incredible patriots.”
This exchange should have put it beyond any doubt–we have a stone-cold racist in the White House. It is inconceivable that Brown hasn’t seen Trump applaud this pigweed. And yet, as I write this on Sunday afternoon, he has yet to comment on it, either via an update to the article or on his Facebook and Twitter feeds.
So it’s only fair to ask–does Brown believe having an out-and-out racist in the White House is preferable to a “radical liberal”? Perhaps we should ask Brown ourselves–politely, of course. Let him have it on Facebook and on Twitter.
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