The Epoch Times, by Mark Tapscott: Every Wednesday at 7 a.m., a small group of federal officials gather around a table somewhere in Washington to study the Bible and how it affects them in their personal lives and as public servants.
Leading their study is Ralph Drollinger, founder and president of the evangelical group Capitol Ministries (CapMin), who also leads similar weekly gatherings of senators and representatives. Drollinger’s CapMin groups are also found in 32 state capitals and 24 nations around the earth.
But it’s the Trump Cabinet study that has most raised eyebrows recently, so much so that The New York Times Magazine described it on Oct. 29 as “perhaps the most influential small-group Bible study in the world.”
Other than the prominence and power of the attendees, however, Drollinger’s Cabinet study is very much like the millions of similar evangelical Bible studies that meet every day of the week in every part of America.
These millions of evangelical Christians believe the Bible is the authoritative guide to daily living.
More than any other group of Americans, evangelicals define good and evil, morality and immorality, based on the Bible and their faith, according to Lifeway Research, the research arm of the Christian book publisher.
The centrality of the Bible in evangelical political thinking is reflected in a recent Lifeway survey that found 80 percent of evangelicals “say the Bible informs their political views,” while 81 percent “say they look for biblical principles to apply in evaluating political issues.”
When 1,000 Americans were asked about the biggest influences on their views on morality, the most often-cited factor at 39 percent was “parents,” Lifeway reported in 2017.
But Lifeway also found that “those with evangelical beliefs are most likely to point to their faith (64 percent), rather than their parents (22 percent).”
Many evangelicals worry about the ultimate fate of the country if officials they support are defeated in upcoming elections.
“Almost three in five evangelicals by belief (58 percent) say that if those with whom they disagree politically are able to implement their agenda, “our democracy will be in danger,” Lifeway reported in its recent “Civility and Politics” survey.
Civility in public policy discussion remains important to most evangelicals, according to Lifeway, which found 66 percent “believe being civil in political conversations is productive, with 22 percent dissenting and 12 percent not sure.”
They worry, though, that their own civility is no longer returned by those who disagree with them.
“Powerful interests on the other side of today’s polarizing society now want to make Christian belief a mark of bigotry and hate,” Tom Gilson, senior editor of the evangelical website The Stream, wrote earlier in October.
Evangelicals make up, depending on how they are defined, anywhere from one third to nearly half of the American electorate. They provided the core of the Trump’s majority in 2016 and will almost certainly provide the core of his voters in 2020.
In a survey earlier this year, Lifeway found that “half of evangelicals by belief identify with the Republican Party and a majority of those that voted in 2016” supported Trump.
“Overall, 48 percent identify as a Republican, 31 percent as a Democrat and 21 percent as an independent or something else beyond the two major political parties,” Lifeway stated.
Trump remains more popular among evangelicals than with any other demographic group, especially whites in the South, according to the Pew Research Center.
Support for Trump among white evangelicals remains high at 69 percent approval, considerably higher than among white Catholics, mainline Protestants, and Jewish respondents, according to Pew.
But white evangelical support for Trump isn’t unconditional. Pew also found that “roughly half of white evangelicals do not think that Trump has set a high moral standard for the presidency since taking office.”
Drollinger agreed, telling The Epoch Times on Oct. 30 that he doesn’t “think it is fair to assume that evangelicals would stick with Trump no matter what. If he showed no regard for God’s moral law, then I think they’d turn from supporting him.”
Trump will be OK with most evangelicals as long as “in the outward sense he loves the Lord and loves his neighbor, and is in no serious, continual, present breach of the 10 Commandments,” Drollinger said.
A key to understanding the high level of evangelical support for Trump and for conservative Republicans more generally is their appreciation for the president as a “warrior,” according to Dr. Robert Jeffress, senior pastor of the 14,000-member First Baptist Dallas mega-church in Texas.
Jeffress was among a small group of key evangelical leaders who met on Oct. 29 with Trump in the Roosevelt Room of the White House. Others in the meeting included Faith and Freedom Coalition President Ralph Reed; Focus on the Family founder James Dobson, Family Research Council President Tony Perkins, and American Values President Gary Bauer. Former Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) was also in the gathering.
“I think people did not elect him because of his piety. He doesn’t pretend to be overly pious, but they elected him because they view him as the warrior,” Jeffress told The Epoch Times on Oct. 30.
“He’s the one fighting for values that evangelicals hold very dearly and I think that’s one reason you have such pushback from evangelicals on impeachment.
“They take impeachment personally. They think to impeach President Trump equates with impeaching their own deeply held values. Christians have, I think for at least half a century, felt marginalized in society, and they see President Trump as representing values they think are important to the American people.”
Asked if conservative leaders like Vice President Mike Pence, who has called himself an “evangelical Catholic,” will command the same level of evangelical support after Trump leaves office, Jeffress was upbeat.
“Vice President Pence is a friend of mine and he is an authentic Christian and a gifted leader. He is the natural heir to President Trump in 2024,” he said.
The intolerant attitudes of seculars toward Christians are pushing evangelicals to a reaction that will result in a Sunday law to “straighten” American out.
“The dignitaries of church and state will unite to bribe, persuade, or compel all classes to honor the Sunday. The lack of divine authority will be supplied by oppressive enactments. Political corruption is destroying love of justice and regard for truth; and even in free America, rulers and legislators, in order to secure public favor, will yield to the popular demand for a law enforcing Sunday observance.” The Great Controversy, page 592.