How can evangelicals like Mike Johnson tolerate Trump?

(Wilfredo Lee/Associated Press)

How can evangelicals like Mike Johnson tolerate Trump?

Opinion piece, Elections 2024

LZ Granderson

April 16, 2024

When I told Paula White, Donald Trump’s God whisperer, at the 2016 Republican National Convention that he was calling her his pastor, she said she was his spiritual advisor, as if that was some kind of get-out-of-jail-free card for her. And yet White worked hard in our conversation to convince me that the foul-mouthed person on the campaign trail was godly.

Then it was her turn to speak at the conference. Most seats were empty when White took the stage, which says a lot about the interest those present had in the words of Trump’s spiritual advisor.

It was as if they had already made a decision.

This was after Trump referred to a book of the Bible as Second Corinthians in a speech at Liberty University, the private Christian university where Jerry Falwell Jr. was president before a sex scandal forced him to resign later that year. This was after Trump mocked a journalist’s disability. This was after he came down the escalator from Trump Tower and started his campaign by bashing Mexico and Latinos before making an offer, and some of them are, I assume, good people. Trump had shown what kind of person he was, and somehow he still had evangelical Christian support.

But he must have feared there would be a limit to their capacity for cognitive dissonance, because he didn’t want evangelical voters to find out about his 2006 affair with Stormy Daniels. He paid her money to keep quiet in the days before the election. I don’t know if White spiritually advised him to do that, but she went on to serve Trump in the White House, so she must have made her peace with the deception.

The reason Trump is on trial in New York is not because of President Biden or the Democrats. That’s because he wanted to mislead a crucial block of voters and is accused of falsely claiming the hush payment as legal services on business documents. And he is accused of falsifying documents in connection with other crimes.

In other words, it’s not a witch hunt. Its consequences.

Now it seems to be the turn of Speaker of the House of Representatives Mike Johnson to find some sort of balance between his personal faith and his professional interest. The joint press conference between Trump and Johnson on Friday will most likely help Johnson keep his job, which was in murky after Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene questioned his leadership, but it doesn’t change the fact that he is linked to a thrice-married adulterous man who made fun. Jimmy Carter the day after Rosalynn Carter, his wife of 77 years, entered hospice care.

The statue of Johnson standing at the

stage teachers

with Trump standing behind him like a jack-o-lantern, the day after Halloween was frightening. Nerve-wracking. It wasn’t a show of force; it was yet another sign of how far some white evangelicals are willing to drag their faith through the mud just to gain power.

Christians believe in something called grace, and God knows I’ve benefited from that a lot in my life. But Trump expresses no remorse for his affair with Daniels or the hush money spent to deceive his Christian supporters. He has been found liable for sexual abuse. He bragged about grabbing women by their genitals and kissing them without consent.

The fact that Trump could be forgiven is irrelevant if he has not changed or stopped his abuses or shown any signs of remorse. What we have in Trump is not a story of redemption, but a clear account of who he really is and has always been.

In February, he said this about his opponent Nikki Haley at a rally: Where’s your man? Oh, he’s gone. He is gone. What happened to her husband? What happened to her husband? Where is he? He is gone!

It was no secret: Haley’s husband was deployed overseas in the South Carolina National Guard, something she openly discussed at campaign events. Trump knew what happened to her husband. But he was simply gambling that some in his audience didn’t know and that he could score cheap political points by slandering a soldier.

You don’t have to act surprised. That’s the kind of person Trump has always been


regardless of whether he had a God whisperer on his staff. This is the kind of person Johnson worked with in a desperate grave last week to keep his job.

I’m not sure what the former president’s current spiritual advisor is whispering in his ear these days, but it’s clear by now that he doesn’t have to listen to get re-elected.



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