Right-wing pastor Robert Jeffress, who has been one of Donald Trump’s most vocal and loyal supporters from the very start of his presidential campaign, appeared on “WallBuilders Live” today to discuss evangelicals’ support for the president.
During the discussion, co-host Rick Green admitted that he had questioned Jeffress’ early support for Trump during the GOP primary, especially when there were several other conservative Christian candidates still in the mix, and wanted to know if Jeffress heard something from God about Trump before everyone else.
Jeffress said that it was not that God had spoken to him about Trump, but that it was was merely a matter of determining that Trump was the most electable candidate.
“I met him, really, just a few weeks after he announced in June,” Jeffress said. “He reached out to me. I got to know him [and] it just became very evident to me—besides the positions—he was the only one who was electable. All the men you mention are great men and I consider them friends of mine, but our country has moved so far to the left, Rick, that I didn’t think that anybody like Ted Cruz was electable. I felt like Donald Trump had the leadership ability, he had the convictions, and he had the electability that was worth supporting.”
That is quite a change for Jeffress, who insisted back in 2008 that issues like electability and fundraising prowess were “not a sufficient reason” to support a non-Christian candidate—he was talking about Mitt Romney—over a Christian one. Back then, Jeffress was actively making the case that evangelicals could not support Romney because of his Mormon faith and during a debate with Jay Sekulow, he explicitly stated that when “given the choice between two candidates, one who is an unbeliever and the other who is a believer, and both of whom embrace close to biblical values, I think we ought to choose the Christian over the non-Christian.”
So for Jeffress, “electability” was good enough reason to support Trump, whose conduct had flouted evangelicals’ stated values throughout his life and career, over committed evangelicals like Ted Cruz, Rick Santorum, Marco Rubio, and Mike Huckabee, but not reason enough for Christians to support the churchgoing Romney in 2008, because, Jeffress said, “I believe Christians, when everything else is virtually equal, ought to select Christians are their rulers as opposed to unbelievers.”
This is something to keep in mind when Religious Right leaders ramp up their next bogus campaign accusing Democrats of religious bigotry or of instituting a “religious test” for public office by criticizing the political positions or legal philosophy of a nominee.