Donald Trump will get Evangelical support despite Capitol riots, say church leaders: 'Absolutely no regrets'
'The president has every right to hold the view that the election was fraudulent and to invite those who share that belief to peacefully protest'
Even as President Donald Trump allegedly 'incited' a mob of supporters to attack the Capitol building on January 6 and has now become the first president in the history of the country to be impeached twice, evangelical leaders have not wavered in their support for him and do not "regret" backing Trump even in the last days of his presidency.
Franklin Graham, son of the late evangelist Billy Graham and head of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, said although he was dismayed to see Trump rile up the protesters and was sickened to see "people attack my Capitol and break down the doors of my Capitol," he did not expect the event to deter evangelical Christians from supporting Trump. "I don't think it was the president's finest moment. I don’t think he had any understanding in that moment of what was going to take place. None of us did." Graham added, "he regrets it."
Robert Jeffress, a senior pastor of the First Baptist Church of Dallas, says he has “absolutely no regrets” over his “enthusiastic support” of Trump over the past four years. “He is without doubt the most pro-life and pro-religious president in history,” Jeffress told USA Today. “The president has every right to hold the view that the election was fraudulent and to invite those who share that belief to peacefully protest. He neither called for nor condoned the despicable actions of those who invaded our Capitol and assaulted the police.”
Instead of pinning the blame on Trump, Jeffress called the storming of the Capitol “not only a crime” but “a sin against God" in an editorial published over the weekend on Fox News. “Peaceful protest is a vital part of our political tradition, and it has long served us well,” he wrote. “What happened on Wednesday when a mob infiltrated the Capitol building was not a protest. It was lawlessness... Celebrating evil is evil. It corrodes the soul.”
He also added that he would discuss in his sermon how Christians dismayed by the election results should respond to Biden. “If we are ever going to heal our country, we must learn how to lay aside the anger and bitterness that are tearing our country apart without demanding that people surrender their deeply held convictions," he said.
Sarah Posner, an investigative journalist and author of 'Unholy: Why White Evangelicals Worship at the Altar of Donald Trump' said that evangelical leaders created an "echo chamber" where they blamed all of Trump's wrong decisions on the Democratic Party or the mainstream media, during his first term in office. As a result, while the president's critics denounced the Capitol riots and blamed him for playing a role, evangelical leaders deflected blame from Trump after the shocking event.
Evangelicals "are so conditioned not to trust the media, it's going to be really hard to convince them of the truth of what happened on Wednesday," Posner said. some of them have even continued fueling Trump's baseless allegations of widespread voter fraud in last year's elections in the wake of the riots last week, she said. "Because it’s the leaders who are again churning the same conspiracy theories, I don’t see a lot of progress in changing anybody’s minds," Posner said.