Evangelicals Are Bitterly Split on How to Deal With Trump After Charlottesville

Critics of the council see this as the problem: Evangelical leaders are willing to explain away anything Trump does, even when he creates controversy and potentially exacerbates painful situations. “I think a lot of his advisory council members right now are in the business of enabling,” said Noah Toly, a professor of politics and director of the Center for Urban Engagement at Wheaton College, an evangelical school outside of Chicago. Along with a small group of colleagues, Toly spearheaded a letter from Wheaton faculty condemning the white supremacy on display in Charlottesville. “If the advisory council were perceived to exist in order to challenge the president on important issues, not just to send out a few tweets … I might think differently,” he told me. “But it seems to me, and I think a lot of other evangelicals, that the advisory council exists to legitimize the presidency in the eyes of the evangelical base.”

Because they’re always on television and occasionally posting selfies from the Oval Office, the members of the advisory council have become the assumed voice of the 81 percent of white evangelicals who voted to put Trump in office. In reality, evangelicals have extremely divided views on how to approach politics. “Whatever credibility we had, we are selling that now in order to achieve and retain power and influence, which is a bargain that isn’t worth it,” said Toly. “We have to be willing to call out evil wherever it happens, and not remain silent in order to retain influence on other issues. I don’t see a lot of that happening right now.”

Evangelicals Are Bitterly Split on How to Deal With Trump After Charlottesville

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