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It has been interesting to listen to some self-described evangelical Christians defend their love and loyalty for President Donald Trump.

All of a sudden, because their guy is a scoundrel, being a scoundrel is not so bad. For some, Trump is God’s scoundrel.

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After President Bill Clinton’s infidelity, the 1998 Southern Baptist Convention passed the “Resolution on Moral Character of Public Officials” declaring that a person’s “moral character matters” and that Americans should not vote for candidates who do not “demonstrate consistent honesty, moral purity, and the highest character.”

During the Clinton impeachment, the Religion News Services found that 60% of evangelicals believed that immoral personal acts disqualified a person from public office. Since Trump, however, this number has dropped to 20 percent. This data confirms that evangelicals have significantly adjusted their standards of moral behavior in response to Trump. The study found that only 6% of white evangelicals were even “concerned” about Trump’s personal behavior. And an American Barometer poll published in The Hill found that a majority of Republicans (54 percent) believed that Trump represented Republican Party values.

According to a recent Pew Research Center survey, among white evangelical Protestants, Trump’s approval is 25 points higher than the national average. Pew found that “White evangelical Protestants who regularly attend church (once a week or more) approve of Trump at rates (70 percent) matching or exceeding those of white evangelicals who attend church less often (65 percent).”

When Clinton was president, Sen. Lindsey Graham stated, “You don’t even have to be convicted of a crime to lose your job as president in this constitutional republic if this body determines your conduct as a public official is clearly out of bounds in your role” and, “Impeachment is about cleansing the office. Impeachment is about restoring honor and integrity to the office.” Back then, Republicans believed that immoral behavior by the president was a standard for impeachment. Today, with Trump as their savior, adjustments in moral convictions have become necessary.

I’m going to look at the bright side of the evangelical embrace of a man who is on his third wife, cheated on all three of them, paid off women to hide his affairs with them, has been charged with sexual misconduct, including rape, by over 20 women, and who can’t seem to tell the truth.

First, Trump has exposed the hypocrisy of many evangelical Christians who, for decades, have declared themselves judge and jury of moral behavior. Defending Trump, however, has forced them to look beyond his behavior and, thus, makes it difficult to judge anyone else.

Post-Trump, anything goes, as long as their guy sits in the White House and brings them political influence.

The standards of Jesus Christ have not changed, of course. His teachings about caring for each other, stand the test of time. But the standards of evangelical Christians have changed as the data confirms.

Oh, they will say that, when it comes to Trump, they believe in redemption, forgiveness, and, of course, everyone can be saved. But the foundation of forgiveness is confession. The Sacrament of Confession within the Catholic faith requires a confession of your sins, a request for forgiveness, and repentance. Trump says that he “never apologizes.” Instead, he denies and lies some more.

Trump has set us free from the judgment of evangelical Christians who no longer stand by the values of Christ, but the values of Trump.

Their loyalty to Trump in light of previously condemnable behavior exposes not only their hypocrisy but the inconsistency of their beliefs. Give him credit — only Trump could have exposed their double standards so clearly.

What has Trump done, personally or professionally, to help the poor, to help immigrants fleeing violence and poverty, or to help people with disabilities? What has Trump done to help our children, improve their schools, or ensure that our children have better access to health care? I know what Christ did and what he would likely do today.

Compared to Trump, the differences are pretty stark.

Even right-wing televangelist Pat Robertson, who once called Trump, “God’s man for the job” has had enough. But not for any personal behavior, you see. Robertson is upset that Trump gave Turkey the go-ahead to invade Syria and massacre American-allied Kurdish forces.

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“The president, who allowed Jamal Khashoggi to be cut in pieces without any repercussions whatsoever, is now allowing the Christians and the Kurds to be massacred by the Turks,” Robertson said. “And I believe — and I want to say this with great solemnity — the president of the United States is in danger of losing the Mandate of Heaven if he permits this to happen.”

Well, it is nice to know that they draw the line at massacres.

Tom Zirpoli writes from Westminster. He is the program coordinator of the Human Services Management graduate program at McDaniel College. His column appears on Wednesdays. Email him at tzirpoli@mcdaniel.edu.

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