That was kind of a delayed reaction. Hang on a moment, and I’ll explain what I mean.
Three weeks ago, I wrote a post noting that a side issue had emerged at President Donald Trump’s infamous “Send her back!” rally in Greenville, N.C.
The controversy, as I noted, involved Trump’s choice of words.
Here’s how I opened that post:
If I told you that Donald Trump uttered a curse word, it probably wouldn’t surprise you.
We are talking, after all, about the future president caught on videotape uttering the famous “Grab-em-by-the-*****” line.
But how might Trump’s evangelical supporters react if the leader of the free world took God’s name in vain at a nationally televised politically rally?
That’s the intriguing — at first glance — plot in a Charlotte Observer news story.
So what brings us back to that same, profanity-laced subject?
That would be Politico, which has taken the story national with a relatively in-depth piece headlined “‘Using the Lord’s name in vain’: Evangelicals chafe at Trump’s blasphemy.”
Here’s Politico’s overture:
Paul Hardesty didn’t pay much attention to President Donald Trump’s campaign rally in Greenville, N.C., last month until a third concerned constituent rang his cellphone.
The residents of Hardesty’s district — he’s a Trump-supporting West Virginia state senator — were calling to complain that Trump was “using the Lord’s name in vain,” Hardesty recounted.
“The third phone call is when I actually went and watched his speech because each of them sounded distraught,” Hardesty, who describes himself as a conservative Democrat, said.
I’ll warn you in advance — hopefully in time to jump ship if you’d like — that the next few paragraphs contain some of the offensive language:
Here’s what he would have seen: Trump crowing, “They'll be hit so goddamn hard,” while bragging about bombing Islamic State militants. And Trump recounting his warning to a wealthy businessman: “If you don't support me, you're going to be so goddamn poor.”
To most of America, the comments went unnoticed. Instead, the nation was gripped by the moment a “send her back” chant broke out as Trump went after Somali-born Democratic Rep. Ilhan Omar, an American citizen. But some Trump supporters were more fixated on his casual use of the word “goddamn” — an off-limits term for many Christians — not to mention the numerous other profanities laced throughout the rest of his speech.
Later, Politico runs down some of the reasons that white evangelicals might be inclined to have a problem with Trump:
Using coarse language is far from the president’s only behavior that might turn off the religious right. He’s been divorced twice and has faced constant allegations of extramarital affairs. He previously supported abortion rights, and he has stumbled when trying to discuss the specifics of religion, once referring to a book of the Bible as “Two Corinthians” instead of “Second Corinthians.” Yet to this point, Trump has maintained broad support from evangelicals, including the unwavering backing of prominent conservative Christian leaders.
I’d suspect that most Trump-supporting evangelicals care more about the ideological leanings of the Supreme Court justices the president appoints than whether he once supported abortion rights, but Politico doesn’t feel compelled to mention that issue.
Keep reading, and — to its credit — Politico notes that Trump isn’t the only politician, Republican or Democrat, with a penchant for coarse language.
Although it seems a bit late, the Politico piece is interesting and filled with relevant details. The sourcing, I will note, seems a bit thin, based mainly on a single West Virginia state senator and relying on two Trump-supporting pastors, “both of whom requested anonymity out of fear of retaliation.”
But overall, it’s worth a read. It’s certainly thought-provoking.