The one thing that could drive evangelical Christians away from Trump

Praying over Trump in 2016.
Praying over Trump in 2016.
Image: Reuters/Jonathan Ernst
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Donald Trump’s former personal lawyer, his company’s chief financial officer, and the CEO of the company that owns the National Enquirer—which allegedly suppressed articles about his affairs—are cooperating with prosecutors. A jury found his former campaign manager guilty of tax and bank fraud.

Yet Republican strategists believe that the president’s base of loyal supporters is standing by him, and they plan to use Trump to campaign heavily ahead of the midterms to maintain control of Congress. That base has included most of America’s evangelical Christians, who back a man who does not appear to share their core beliefs: He is on his third marriage, has bragged about sexually assaulting women, is accused by nearly 20 women of sexual misconduct, and has a history of lying and failing to pay his bills.

Nearly 70% of white Protestants who consider themselves highly religious supported Trump in 2017, Gallup reports.

Trump’s foreign policy, and particularly the relocation of the US Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem, appeals to a powerful group of fundamentalist Christians who believe the move may trigger the apocalypse and the second coming of Christ. His administration has supported religious beliefs over civil liberties, backed Christians who refuse to serve gay-wedding parties or fund birth control for employees, and pushed policies that would cut off federal funding for clinics that provide abortions.

That has seemed to be enough for most of his Christian supporters.

“As long as Democrats remain the party of infanticide and ‘bake the cake, bigot,’ there is literally nothing Trump could do to alienate a majority of his evangelical support,” Steve Deace, a Christian radio talk show host, told Quartz via email. “They see him as the last remaining barrier between them and the Left using the full coercive power of government against their beliefs.”

Yes, Deace said, the ongoing scandal, which involves court testimony that Trump ordered lawyer Michael Cohen to arrange payments for women he had affairs with, may cause some “slippage.” Still, there is one thing that could cause serious damage, he believes.

“Would a revelation like Trump paid for an abortion of his own child and is unrepentant about it, like he is everything else, cause some substantial slippage?” Deace asked. “Yes.”

Trump’s stance on abortion has shifted radically over the years, from “pro-choice to pro-prison,” as the BBC put it. In 1999, he described himself on NBC News’ Meet the Press as “very pro-choice.” On the 2016 campaign trial, he said there should be “some sort of punishment” for women who had had abortions.

When New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd met with Trump in the spring of 2016, she asked him “When he was a swinging bachelor in Manhattan, was he ever involved with anyone who had an abortion?”

Trump replied: “Such an interesting question. So what’s your next question?”

Dowd moved on.

Former Playboy model Karen McDougal, who alleges she had an affair with Trump, said she had unprotected sex with Trump, as does Stephanie Clifford, the adult film star.

The White House had no immediate comment on Deace’s statement.