The author of a new book about the American evangelical movement said he was taken aback by the way prominent evangelical leaders responded to his questions about former President Donald Trump.
“I would say one of the most surprising and discouraging things that I encountered time and again was when I would really press some of the high profile evangelical figures,” The Atlantic’s Tim Alberta told MSNBC’s Katy Tur on Tuesday.
“When you get these guys one on one Katy, and you really press them on specific things, specific beliefs, they’ll sort of back off a little bit, and they’ll even do a little bit of a wink and a nod and kind of signal to you that like, yeah, I get you, like, it’s been over the top. It’s overkill. This guy, you know, it’s not OK,” he said.
However, these figures would still justify supporting Trump because “the ends of preserving Christian America justify the means of enlisting this uncouth, boorish, conspiracy-spouting individual who is issuing these casual calls to violence and saying and doing things every day that are not Christ-like,” Alberta said.
“He fights for us; he’s our champion, and therefore, we can ignore the rest because the ends ultimately justify those means,” he continued, summarizing what he was told in interviews.
Alberta, a practicing Christian and the son of an evangelical pastor, parsed how Trump’s presidency and an extreme political environment have influenced the evangelical movement in “The Kingdom, the Power, and the Glory: American Evangelicals in an Age of Extremism,” which was released Tuesday.
Evangelical voters helped Trump to victory in 2016 and largely stuck by him again in 2020.
Trump, however, has reportedly disparaged those voters in private. In his book, Alberta describes the “colorful language” Trump has used to describe the evangelical community over the years, according to The Guardian.
Several key evangelical figures have distanced themselves from Trump during his third presidential bid. Bob Vander Plaats, an influential Iowa evangelical leader, recently endorsed Trump’s Republican rival, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis.
Watch Alberta’s MSNBC interview below.