Frank Lockwood

2020 and the religious right: 'If Trump loses evangelical support, you can stick a fork in him'

2020 and the religious right: 'If Trump loses evangelical support, you can stick a fork in him'

Frank Lockwood is not your ordinary Washington, D.C., correspondent.

His career trajectory has featured a mix of political reporting and stints as religion editor for the Lexington Herald-Leader and later the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.

At one point, he was known — as GetReligion’s archives attest — as the “Bible Belt Blogger.”

So when my Google News Alert for mentions of “evangelicals” turned up a Lockwood piece on President Donald Trump’s cozy relationship with evangelical leaders, I wasn’t surprised to find an insightful piece.

Lockwood, who has reported for the Democrat-Gazette from the nation’s capital since 2015, gets politics and religion. And he works for a newspaper that still strives hard to report stories such as this in an impartial, balanced manner — as in, no snark concerning Trump and the religious voters who make up such a crucial part of his base.

The Democrat-Gazette’s lede:

Evangelicals, who were crucial to President Donald Trump's election, are pleased thus far with their White House ally, prominent leaders say.

The New York Republican is counting on his Christian conservative base to help him win a second term.

"I love the evangelicals. And they love me," Trump said in February, repeating a line he had also employed during the 2016 campaign.

The strength of that relationship will matter on Election Day 2020, pollsters say.

Without a fired-up white evangelical voting base, Trump's possible pathways to a second term narrow considerably, according to pollster Robert P. Jones, CEO of the Public Religion Research Institute.

"They're a quarter of all voters and they vote 80 percent Republican, so it's a very important constituency on the Republican side of politics," said Jones, the author of The End of White Christian America.

Why report this story now?

Please respect our Commenting Policy

Not surprisingly, Franklin Graham's political views are an issue with the New York Times

Not surprisingly, Franklin Graham's political views are an issue with the New York Times

With the Rev. Billy Graham dead and –- as I write this –- on his way to lying in state in the U.S. Capitol Rotunda, lots of eyes have turned toward his eldest son, the Rev. Franklin Graham. The New York Times on Monday came out with a piece that lauded Billy for his non-involvement with politics (at least later in life), then trashed Franklin for embracing President Donald Trump.

I get peeved when certain media purport to have great concern for the future of evangelical Christianity when at the same time criticizing the movement when some of its members embrace conservative politics. The same folks who find Franklin Graham to be an unworthy son wouldn’t think of going after the (more liberal) daughters of George W. Bush for not carrying on his legacy.

Graham is a major annoyance to many in the media for his unabashed Trumpism. I don’t claim to be a big fan of Franklin’s, but I have to laugh at his elephant skin. Haven't reporters figured out that Graham the younger doesn't give a rip about their opinions?

After the piece begins with a quote from the late evangelist about the dangers of political involvement, it then pillories the younger Graham.

Among Mr. Trump’s most vocal evangelical supporters, few are as high-profile as Billy Graham’s eldest son and the heir to his ministry, the Rev. Franklin Graham, who is 65. Though admired among evangelicals for his aid work in hardship zones with the charity he leads, Samaritan’s Purse, he has drawn criticism for his unstinting support of the president.
Franklin Graham has defended the president on television and social media through the white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Va., the crackdowns on immigrants and refugees, the Stormy Daniels scandal, and the slur against Haiti and Africa.
“People say that the president says mean things. I can’t think of anything mean he’s said. I think he speaks what he feels,” Mr. Graham said in a wide-ranging telephone interview last week. “I think he’s trying to speak the truth.”

Well, Trump has actually said plenty of mean things and on that, Franklin Graham and I would disagree. But why has his conservative politics become this major harbinger of where evangelicalism -- as a whole -- stands right now?

Please respect our Commenting Policy