Will Evangelicals Stay With Donald Trump if Tapes Show Him Racist? Bishop Harry Jackson Responds

Donald Trump
Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump speaks at the "Retired American Warriors" conference during a campaign stop in Herndon, Virginia, U.S., October 3, 2016. |

A prominent African-American evangelical leader is saying this week that even if tapes emerge where Donald Trump is uttering racial slurs, as is rumored, the candidates' platforms matter more than the candidates' personalities.

In the aftermath of tapes surfacing on October 7 of Donald Trump's comments about groping women, the Sun (UK) and others are reporting that crew members from Trump's TV show "The Apprentice" say that other audio recordings of Trump exist that are "much worse."

Yet even as some leading evangelicals withdraw their support for Trump — perhaps most notably theologian Wayne Grudem who had previously argued that the Republican nominee amounted to a "morally good choice" — others are opting to vote based on the policies not the candidates themselves.

"I think that evangelicals for a long time have realized that we're not going to get the perfect blend of character and public policy," said Bishop Harry Jackson Jr., founder and president of the High Impact Leadership Coalition and senior pastor of Hope Christian Fellowship in Beltsville, Maryland, in a Tuesday phone interview with The Christian Post.

"Even the people who seem to have been on the surface the most faithful in terms of their biblical beliefs have not been effective at protecting our rights or advancing our agendas," he added. "In light of that I would say that I'm really looking at the platforms and what I believe are certainties of the different presidential and down-ticket campaigns."

Bishop Harry Jackson

Jackson, an adviser to the Trump campaign, noted that Trump stands for seven principles that matter most to evangelicals, among them religious freedom, Supreme Court justice choices, support of Israel, and education reform.

Meanwhile, headlines are declaring the death of the Christian Right, and surprisingly, these statements are coming from conservative evangelicals themselves.

Writing Sunday in the Washington Post, Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission (SBC) president Russell Moore castigated evangelical leaders standing by Trump and said that this election has "snuffed out" the Religious Right. Their steadfast support of him, he argued, has caused incalculable damage to Christian witness in society, and younger evangelicals are manifestly unwilling to compromise the gospel in this way.

In a popular CP op-ed, Michael Farris, chancellor of Patrick Henry College and chairman of the Home School Legal Defense Association, said the Christian Right effectively ended when 1,000 vaunted evangelical leaders met with him in New York in late June.

Given the heightened attention race relations has received in this past year, CP asked Jackson what it says about American evangelicals if they continue to stand with Trump if indeed an audio recording emerges where he employs racial epithets, or even the n-word.

While blind Christian support of the GOP has been wrong, Jackson noted, "white Christians have been oriented toward righteousness issues and black Christians have been oriented toward justice issues and the Bible does not teach righteousness or justice. Psalm 89 verse 14 says that righteousness and justice are the foundation of God's throne."

By contrast, Hillary Clinton and the Democratic Party, he argued, have practiced the politics of grievance and have failed to deliver results, pointing to the 40-year decay of urban centers in the United States under left-wing political leadership.

"Their policies have produced Ferguson, Baltimore, Chicago, D.C., and all the urban areas where we have concern where there may be riots are because policies of handouts versus empowerment have been in place. So I'm really not concerned about what a man has said years ago. I am concerned, however, about people who have taken me for granted," Jackson said.

"I'm going to repeat the phrase of the old civil rights icons. They said it this way: We have no permanent friends. We only have permanent interests," he continued.

For those struggling with their conscience about Trump's words, Jackson offered, "It's not really about you. You need to build a bridge and get over it. It's really about what's best for the country and the liberties of the church."

"And no matter who is elected, I think the wise, spiritual people are going to be praying all the way through the next four years," he concluded.

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