Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump’s campaign was thrown into crisis mode on Friday afternoon after the Washington Post released a video that showed him bragging about sexually assaulting women. Things got even worse next day, when CNN released audio recordings of Trump telling radio host Howard Stern that he could refer to his daughter as “a piece of ass.”
The political bombshells sent a shockwave through Trump’s support network, with several of his longtime backers condemning his remarks,rescinding their endorsement, or even calling on him to drop out of the race. Among conservatives—a group that has long championed “family values”—Trump’s comments finally appeared to be a bridge too far.
Yet one group has remained shockingly supportive of Trump: members of his Evangelical Executive Advisory Board, a cadre of pastors and religious leaders tasked with advising the candidate on matters of faith. Members of the board are not required to endorse Trump, and many have refused to do so (although their mere association with him has caused some evangelicals to levy accusations of spiritual cowardice).
Yet almost 24 hours since news of Trump’s comments broke, most members of the board—several of which are traditional leaders of the Religious Right—have yet to comment, and others have either explained away his remarks or reiterated their support for the candidate.
Below is a developing list of what members of the committee have—or haven’t—said in response to the video.
This post will be updated as the faith leaders respond. Unless they don’t.
In an email to the Washington Post, Reed — head of Trump’s advisory board and the Faith and Freedom Coalition — the comments were “inappropriate,” but pivoted to attacking Clinton.
“But people of faith are voting on issues like who will protect unborn life, defend religious freedom, grow the economy, appoint conservative judges and oppose the Iran nuclear deal,” he said. He argued evangelical voters will still vote against Clinton, saying her “corrupt use of her office to raise funds from foreign governments and corporations and her reckless and irresponsible handling of classified material on her home-brewed email server, endangering US national security, that will drive the evangelical vote.”
“I think a 10-year-old tape of a private conversation with a TV talk show host ranks pretty low on their hierarchy of their concerns,” he said.
Bachmann dismissed Trump’s comments as “bad boy talk.” She has not rescinded her support.
Jeffress, senior pastor of First Baptist Church in Dallas, told the Washington Post he believes Trump is “still the best candidate to reverse the downward spiral this nation is in.”
“While the comments are lewd, offensive, and indefensible … they are not enough to make me vote for Hillary Clinton,” he said, adding he would “not necessarily choose Donald Trump to be a Sunday School teacher” but he still supports him.
“To say Trump’s comments disqualify him from being president assumes that Hillary Clinton is more moral than Donald Trump,” he said.
— Fox News (@FoxNews) October 8, 2016
Floyd, pastor of Cross Church in Springdale, Arkansas, and author of The Gay Agenda, appeared to respond to the controversy by condemning both candidates.
— O. Alan Noble (@TheAlanNoble) October 8, 2016
America needs change, the kind only God can bring. My faith and hope has been and still is in the Lord alone.
— Ronnie Floyd (@ronniefloyd) October 8, 2016
@ronniefloyd can you enlighten me on we’re can I find grab them by the pussy in the Bible like the candidate you support.
— Curmudgeon (@CurmudgeonI) October 8, 2016
The host of the conservative radio show My Family Talk did not appear to respond to the controversy directly, choosing instead to tweet a message about forgiveness.
Lord, You have spoken plainly about the consequences of withholding forgiveness. Help us to hear You and obey. Amen.
— Dr. James Dobson (@DrJamesCDobson) October 8, 2016
Jerry Falwell, Jr
The president of Liberty University, an influential evangelical Christian school, did not respond to requests for comment over the weekend. His press office told ThinkProgress:
“President Falwell’s High School aged daughter is on Fall Break and the family is spending time together. They are on a short trip. As such, he is not responding to media requests for interviews or comments at this time.”
Jackson, pastor of Hope Christian Church in Beltsville, Maryland, has yet to make any comments himself. But on Saturday evening, he retweeted Dr. Darlette Stowers praising the remarks of Tony Perkins, another member of the Religious Right who has refused to rescind his support for Donald Trump, saying that his support for him “was never based upon shared values.”
— Dr. Darlette Stowers (@DocStowers) October 8, 2016
Johnnie Moore, an author and national spokesman for My Faith Votes, told CNN he would still vote for Trump, even though he is “disgusted” by his comments.
“Most conservative evangelicals who are voting for Trump have never been under the illusion that Trump has a puritan past. They are more concerned about the present and whether or not he is more likely than Hillary Clinton to protect their religious liberty, appoint conservative judges and protect the life of the unborn.”
Moore also insisted that his vote is not the same as an endorsement.
“I wasn’t on board with Donald Trump to begin with. None of us were asked to endorse him, we were only asked to provide advice and perspective on certain issues. I agreed to serve because of my concern for refugees and for persecuted Christians around the world.”
Kenneth and Gloria Copeland
Tom Winters and Sealy Yates
Silence. (Rev. Burns, once a prominent surrogate for Trump, has since largely removed himself from the spotlight after it was revealed by CNN that he was embellishing his record, accomplishments, and degrees.)