Almost no one saw Donald Trump’s political rise coming. Even when he was leading polls last summer, most prognosticators predicted he would eventually crash and burn, like so many controversial candidates before him. But Trump’s support kept growing, even among established Republican demographic groups. One of his most puzzling sources of support came from the Evangelical Christian voting bloc. On this week’s episode of Full Frontal, Samantha Bee examined why the religious right has voted for Trump this election cycle, especially since Ted Cruz seemed more aligned with the group’s classic interests.
“They had the chance to back someone who was grown in a vat to be the perfect evangelical candidate,” Bee said. “Instead, most evangelicals said, ‘No, we’re gonna go with the thrice-married, foul-mouthed, tit judge who likes Planned Parenthood and thinks Corinthians is a type of car upholstery.”
Although the religious right is mostly known in the political realm for its vehement opposition to abortion, Bee pointed out that the group’s political awakening first came about in response to a different issue, when the IRS threatened to revoke evangelical schools’ tax-exempt status until they ended racial segregation in their admissions process. “It wasn’t abortion that birthed the religious right, it was good ol’ white nativism and anti-government anger, when the IRS challenged evangelicals’ God-given right to go to school without black people,” Bee said.
It was only then that evangelicals, now awakened as a political movement, decided to tackle other issues like abortion. Trump over Cruz wasn’t even the first strange candidate choice by evangelicals, as Bee pointed out. Ronald Reagan over Jimmy Carter made just as little sense, given the group’s professed religious beliefs. “At their leaders’ urging, evangelicals abandoned the devout Baptist farmer who taught Sunday school and helped the poor, and switched their allegiance to the divorced movie star who hung out with Hollywood Jews, sinners, and believers in evolution,” Bee said.
Bee also noted that though their support for Trump helped elevate him above Republican rivals, the religious right has steadily been losing political ground for years, as proven by the victories of LGBT rights.
“Old-fashioned values voters no longer have the clout to get their vat monster the nomination, much less the Oval Office,” Bee said. “And the new evangelicals are happy to ditch the Bible for good ol’ white nativism and anti-government anger. Hey, just like you taught them!” Watch the clip below.