Franklin Graham, leading figure in the right-wing Evangelical movement, son of evangelist Billy Graham, and longtime supporter of President Donald Trump, still supports the President, as do many of his fellow Evangelicals, even after Trump encouraged a mob to storm the Capitol building while congress certified Joe Biden’s electoral win.
The violent pro-Trump mob stormed their way into the Capitol, looking for Democratic lawmakers and Vice-President Mike Pence, who they believe betrayed Trump, in an alleged attempt to hold them hostage, or even kill them.
Graham, while admitting it wasn’t a great look for Trump and he was sickened to see “people attack my Capitol and break down the doors of my Capitol,” still declined to admit the President bears responsibility for how his words influenced the violent actions.
“I don’t think it was the president’s finest moment. I don’t think he had any understanding in that moment of what was going to take place. None of us did. He regrets it.”
Graham admitted, however, that he didn’t see the President’s actions deterring his evangelical base from supporting him.
Since he won the very competitive GOP primary in 2016, Trump has relied on evangelical Christians and other religious leaders as voting blocs to bolster his influence.
In exchange for that support, he has appointed more than 200 federal judges and three conservative justices to the Supreme Court who support policies favored by the religious right like limits on abortion and gay marriage.
According to exit polls, in the 2020 presidential election, 76% of White evangelicals voted for Trump and 24% for President-elect JoeBiden.
Sarah Posner, an investigative journalist and author of Unholy: Why White Evangelicals Worship at the Altar of Donald Trump, explains why the recent violence and turmoil has not turned off Trump’s evangelical base by saying that evangelical leaders have created an “echo chamber” where they blamed all of Trump’s behavior that runs contrary to their faith on Democrats and the media.
Posner added that Evangelicals are “are so conditioned not to trust the media, it’s going to be really hard to convince them of the truth of what happened on Wednesday,” and that “because it’s the leaders who are again churning the same conspiracy theories, I don’t see a lot of progress in changing anybody’s minds.”
Megachurch Pastor Robert Jeffress of First Baptist Church Dallas, a long time Trump defender, said on Tuesday he had “absolutely no regrets” over his “enthusiastic support” of the Trump presidency:
“He is without doubt the most pro-life and pro-religious president in history. The president has every right to hold the view that the election was fraudulent and to invite those who share that belief to peacefully protest. He neither called for nor condoned the despicable actions of those who invaded our Capitol and assaulted the police.”
However, televangelist host of The 700 Club, Pat Robertson signaled that his support for Trump was over recently. Or at least support of Trump’s baseless claims of a rigged election that he really won.
Robertson claimed that Trump is living in an “alternate reality,” and should promptly “move on” from the election loss at the hands of President-Elect Joe Biden.
Robertson made the somewhat stunning claim about Trump on The 700 Club Monday evening:
“With all his talent, and the ability to raise money and draw large crowds, the President still lives in an alternate reality. He really does. People say, ‘well he lies about this, that and the other.’ But he isn’t lying. To him, that’s the truth.”
Robertson often used his show to pray that Trump would win the 2020 election, and once claimed that anyone “Revolting” against Trump was “revolting against God’s plan for America.” However, he claimed that while Trump has “done a marvelous job for the economy,” he is “very erratic.”
But the televangelist joins a growing chorus of prominent conservatives saying that Trump needs to move on and accept the election defeat.
Robertson had been holding out hope that Trump could still somehow win a second term, but has admitted it is over:
“I had prayed and hoped that there might be some better solution, but I think it’s all over. I think the electoral college has spoken. I think the Biden corruption has not totally been brought to fruition, but it doesn’t seem to be affecting the electoral college and I don’t think the Supreme Court is going to move in to do anything and I think we’re going to see a President Biden, and I also think we’ll be seeing as President Kamala Harris not too long after the inauguration of President Biden.”
Robertson also noted that he thinks another Trump run for the White House in 2024 would be a mistake and that he sees Nikki Haley as the next Republican front-runner.