Prominent Homophobe: As Long as Trump Serves Up Right-Wing Policy, Evangelicals Will Look the Other Way

by Kilian Melloy

EDGE Staff Reporter

Tuesday January 23, 2018

In case you were wondering when American evangelicals will finally see the light, return to a spiritual path in line with Christian scripture, and abandon Donald Trump and the politics of division, the answer you might have suspected has now been confirmed: A good many of them never will. At least, not as long as Trump keeps serving up anti-LGBTQ laws and policies.

That's the take away from an interview with anti-gay stalwart Tony Perkins, of the Research Council, a group that's supported anti-gay legislation for decades and that has been deemed an extremist "hate group" by the Southern Poverty Law Center.

Perkins is a controversial figure in his own right not only for his inflammatory anti-gay rhetoric but also, as a Newsweek article noted, for reports that he knew about an Ohio state Republican official's alleged same-gender sexual assault on an 18-year-old man and failed to report the crime to authorities.

But such contradictions seemed to weigh not at all on Perkins as he told Politico on a Jan. 23 podcast that, as far as evangelical Christians are concerned, the president's peccadillos -- including a purported affair with a porn star -- mean little or nothing next to the policy victories Trump has been delivering.

"We kind of gave him - 'All right, you get a mulligan. You get a do-over here,' " Perkins told "Off Message" podcast host Edward-Isaac Dovere.

Perkins went on to defend that line of thinking by saying that right-wing Christians had felt "kicked around by Barack Obama and his leftists.... they are finally glad that there is somebody on the playground that is willing to punch the bully."

If those words seem rich coming from someone who has opposed anti-bullying efforts, try this one on for size: When asked about the Christian motto "Turn the other cheek," Perkins blithely blew right on by that core adage of the faith he claims to cherish. "You know, you only have two cheeks," he told the podcast's host, adding, "Christianity is not all about being a welcome mat which people can just stomp their feet on."

This despite his evident expectation that gays should simply lie down and take it.

Perkins hearkened back to the 2016 elections, The Washington Examiner noted, and gave the impression that evangelicals were willing to put Trump's attacks on political norms and democratic institutions aside in favor of perceived political advantage, acknowledging that evangelicals didn't spark to candidate Trump "based on his moral qualifications, but based upon what he said he was going to do and who he was surrounding himself with."

Perkins then went on to offer perhaps his most disingenuous comment of the interview, saying that evangelicals "see good and evil, but also among evangelicals, there's an understanding that we are all fallen, and the idea of forgiveness is very prominent.

"And so, we understand that, yes, there is justice, but there is mercy."

America's LGBTQs might not see the activities of the Family Research Council, which has relentlessly attacked their family rights and workplace equality, in quite the same kind and tender light.

The Politico article took note of the fact that even among evangelicals, Trump's approval ratings have soured, with approval ratings falling "sharply among white evangelical Protestants, from 78 percent in February to 61 percent" at the time of a recent poll in December. Still, the question persists as to when people of faith standing by Trump will experience a "Road to Damascus" moment regarding the president.

Perkins finally gave a direct answer to that question. "Whenever the policy stops... that's where I believe the president will be in trouble" with the nation's self-anointed moral guardians and chosen few.

Kilian Melloy serves as EDGE Media Network's Assistant Arts Editor. He also reviews theater for WBUR. His professional memberships include the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association, the Boston Online Film Critics Association, The Gay and Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association, and the Boston Theater Critics Association's Elliot Norton Awards Committee.

Comments on Facebook