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Rise of Trump Signals Death of Moral Majority

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Donald Trump

Credit: Gage Skidmore,
CC BY-SA 3.0

by Jonathon Van Maren,

Donald Trump’s victory in the South Carolina primary, the supposed Southern Bible belt, is a wakeup call to American Christians. The Moral Majority is dead.

To many, this will not be news. Many Christian leaders came to this conclusion when Bill Clinton left office with sky-high approval ratings, in spite of his affair with a White House intern, which he later lied about. The Starr Report had laid out in excruciating detail the president’s philandering predilections, and no one had cared.

One of my writer friends has often commented to me that he stopped taking American evangelicals seriously when Newt Gingrich, who cheated on his cancer-stricken wife before John Edwards made it a thing, swept the South Carolina Republican Primary in 2012. But at least Newt Gingrich has attempted to re-establish himself as someone with values. Trump barely makes any such pretenses.

Evangelicals are now overwhelmingly supporting Donald Trump: 34% of them turned out for him in South Carolina, in contrast to 21% for Marco Rubio and 26% for Ted Cruz. Both of these men have publicly declared their faith, both have denounced abortion and promised to oppose Planned Parenthood, and both have committed to defending religious liberty. Both were rejected by the majority of evangelicals in South Carolina. FiveThirtyEight ironically noted that “Trump’s South Carolina Win Shows Evangelicals Aren’t Necessarily Voting On Their Faith.” Indeed.

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