Politics

Washington Monthly | Where Is the Moral Outrage From White Evangelicals About Trump’s Lying?

Donald Trump’s strongest base of support comes from white evangelical Christians. By now we’ve all grown accustomed to the way their leaders have jumped through hoops to dismiss the president’s history of both sexual infidelity and sexual assault. They claim that it all happened a long time ago and that what he did in his personal life doesn’t matter.

When it comes to asking these court evangelicals to weigh in on Trump’s amorality, that is usually where the questions end. That’s because in too many circles, the concept of morality has been reduced to rules about sex.

But white evangelicals are also the group that has fought to have the Bible’s Ten Commandments on display in public places. To the extent that they feel that list encapsulates how morality is defined, they need to address how Trump measures up on items like the ninth commandment, which reads: “Thou shalt not bear false witness against they neighbor.”

While some scholars have defined the ninth commandment as referring to the more narrow lie of perjury, most of us grew up assuming that it covered lying more broadly. That is backed up by a lot of other verses in the Bible, like these in Proverbs 6:16-19:

These six things doth the Lord hate: yea, seven are an abomination unto him: A proud look, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, an heart that deviseth wicked imaginations, feet that be swift in running to mischief, a false witness that speaketh lies, and he that soweth discord among brethren.

Note that the God of the Bible seems to hate lying a lot since it’s mentioned twice in that list.

Of all the morally repugnant things Trump has said and done, the one that is impossible to ignore is that he lies constantly. And the longer he is in office, the more he lies. Daniel Dale has done yeoman’s work to chronicle that trajectory.

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Here is the updated chart of Trump‘s false claims by week. Look at that right side. pic.twitter.com/fkFd3ELUVf

— Daniel Dale (@ddale8) October 24, 2018

Dale has provided a list of the lies Trump tells over and over again. As an example, here is the fourth most common one that he has repeated 28 times.

Sample quote: “We also passed Veterans Choice, giving our veterans the right to see a private doctor. Big thing. Forty-four years. Forty-four years, they’ve tried to get it passed. People are waiting on line for 12 days, for 20 days, for 28 days. I thought it was my idea, but then I came back and I said — what a great idea. They said, we’ve been trying to get it passed for 44 years. I mean, how simple? Right? Forty-four years.”

Why it’s wrong: Nobody has been waiting 44 years for the Veterans Choice program to be passed: four years ago, in 2014, it was passed by Congress and signed into law by Obama.

Unlike the facts we have access to now about Trump’s history of sexual infidelity and assault, the lies this president tells can’t be relegated to the past or to his personal life. They are happening on a daily basis and are at the heart of how Trump communicates with voters.

Some people will respond by saying that all politicians lie. But the difference with Trump is in both the quantity of lies he tells—leaving us unable to believe anything he says—and in his persistence in telling lies that have been fact-checked over and over again, like the one up above about the Veterans Choice program.

Finally, Trump’s lies are often used to engage in another behavior that the God of the Bible hates: sowing discord among brethren. All of the lies he tells about Democrats—both individually and collectively—are designed to support his contention that the opposition party is evil.

I’d like to know how white evangelicals and their leaders justify their support for a president who so carelessly breaks God’s commandments on a daily basis. Is it of concern to them that he is so lacking in a moral compass that he lies over 5 times a day on average? Or has their confluence of politics and religion become so pragmatic that having an amoral president who makes a mockery of their faith is fine as long as he drops them a bone every now and then?




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