Evangelical Leaders Denounce, Stand By Trump in Wake of Lewd Tape
A number of high-profile evangelical leaders who have supported Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, or given credit to parts of his campaign platform, prior to the leak of a 2005 tape of the nominee making lewd remarks about women, said Saturday they plan to stand by their initial view of the New York businessman.
Many of them strongly criticized Trump for his comments but still see his candidacy as a better choice than that of Democrat Hillary Clinton.
Franklin Graham, a North Carolina evangelist and CEO of the Samaritan's Purse missionary charity, denounced Trump's "crude comments", saying they "cannot be defended."
But, Graham added on Facebook that the "godless progressive agenda of Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton likewise cannot be defended."
Graham, who has not endorsed a presidential candidate, asked voters to look at both nominees' "visions for the future of America.":
"The most important issue...is the Supreme Court--that impact's everything," apparently contrasting the likelihood of Trump nominating more conservative and Clinton nominating more progressive justices for Antonin Scalia's and other possible court vacancies in the next term.
Faith and Freedom Coalition leader Ralph Reed echoed a similar sentiment Saturday, saying that "ten-year-old tapes of private conversation... rank very low on...hierarchy of [voters] concerns."
"Voters of faith are voting on issues like who will protect unborn life, defend religious freedom [and] create jobs," he said, according to The Hill newspaper.
Rev. Darrell Scott, an African-American pastor from Cleveland and vocal Trump supporter, told the Washington Post, "I don't condone the remarks, but I don't condemn the man."
Dallas-based Baptist preacher Rev. Robert Jeffress called Trump "still the best candidate", despite the mogul's crude remarks.
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