Tony Perkins gave Trump a mulligan. Now he wants one himself.

After the Bill Clinton/Monica Lewinsky scandal broke back in the 1990s, the rallying cry for evangelicals became that we needed Godly, Christian, churchgoing men in government (Clinton was, of course a churchgoer, and he did the appropriate steps of repentance, but he was a liberal Democrat who broke a 12 year streak of Republican presidenting, so they never forgave him). Then Obama, a churchgoing scandal-free dude, took the White House and evangelical enthusiasm for having Godly, Christian, church-going men in office started to drop. And they convinced themselves that Obama was a Muslim anyway, so he didn’t count.

Then Trump got into office and evangelicals forgot all about the need for virtuous leaders. Anti-gay, anti-Muslim hatemonger Tony Perkins declared Trump “gets a mulligan” for having had sex with porn stars because he’s fighting for them (evangelicals, that is, not porn stars)! Conservative evangelicals backed Trump all the way; Perkins called on states to reject the Biden electors and make Trump president. And Perkins is outraged that people are judging him for that support: “The reality is, these Never Trumpers, some of them evangelicals, have done nothing but sit in their ivory towers these last four years and heap criticism on the well-meaning Christians trying to protect our country … life isn’t made up of perfect choices, and Christians can’t be blamed for the imperfect candidates set before us. We can only work with what we have.”

To a certain point, that’s actually a fair argument. Everyone goes to the election with the candidates they have, not the candidates they want. But even if we overlook how evangelicals, supposedly dedicated to Christian principles, changed their tune when convenient, the argument doesn’t work. Perkins (and Franklin Graham and countless others) didn’t just support Trump over Clinton. They’ve supported him every step of the way. Children torn from their families. Bigotry against Mexicans. Thousands dead from the Trump virus. None of it swayed them. The Old Testament prophets (I don’t think Perkins’ Christianity has much to do with the Bible, but still) had no hesitation telling kings when they’d crossed the line, even great kings such as Saul and David. The court prophets like Perkins won’t object to one solitary thing Trump did, not even the coup, just so long as they got anti-gay, anti-abortion, anti-Muslim measures out of it. Either Perkins and co. traded principles for political gain or nothing Trump did bothered their principles (some more discussion here).

I doubt it troubled Perkins’ principles as he doesn’t have any. He lies that homosexuals are pedophiles, distorts facts (“nearly every single footnote was a lie“) and claimed questioning Obama’s birth certificate was legitimate, which it wasn’t (that would be bearing false witness against your neighbor).

I suspect Fred Clark sums up the court evangelicals’ attitude well: “What profit is it,” Jesus asked, “if you gain the whole world and lose your soul?” “What profit?” the insincere bigot says. “You just said you gain the whole world. There’s your profit right there.”

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