Wayne Grudem rescinds Trump endorsement
Campaign 2016 | The evangelical theologian regrets calling the GOP nominee a ‘morally good choice’
by J.C. Derrick
Posted 10/10/16, 07:26 am
Noted theologian Wayne Grudem withdrew his endorsement from Donald Trump on Sunday and urged the businessman to drop out of the presidential race.
“There is no morally good presidential candidate in this election,” Grudem, a professor at Phoenix Seminary, wrote in a commentary posted at Townhall.
Grudem’s striking reversal comes two days after The Washington Post reported on a 2005 video showing Trump making lewd remarks about women and bragging about sexual assault. The resulting controversy sparked a wave of lawmakers to abandon the Republican nominee, but many evangelical backers refused to do so.
Grudem, the general editor of the ESV Study Bible (WORLD’s 2009 Book of the Year) and a participant in WORLD’s evangelical insiders survey, wrote a lengthy July column for Townhall calling Trump the “morally good choice” in the general election. On Sunday, he refuted that assertion in his first sentence, saying the new revelations, including separate remarks Trump made to radio host Howard Stern, changed his mind.
“I now regret that I did not more strongly condemn his moral character,” Grudem wrote. “I cannot commend Trump’s moral character, and I strongly urge him to withdraw from the election.”
Grudem expressed regret for not doing more research on Trump and said it’s fair to criticize him for it. He called Trump’s 2005 comments “evil” and said reading transcripts of his conversations with Stern “turned my stomach.”
“If I had read or heard some of these materials earlier, I would not have written as positively as I did about Donald Trump,” Grudem wrote as he thanked Townhall for removing his prior column from its website.
Grudem cited numerous reasons Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton is “no better” than Trump. He expressed uncertainty about how he will vote but is “deeply reluctant” to simply walk away from the election or vote for a third-party candidate, as many Christians have vowed to do.
“If all the Christians in the country decide not to vote for either candidate, our rulers will then be chosen entirely by non-Christians, many of whom will increasingly use the immense power of government to promote evil, silence Christians, and oppose Christian values in every area of life,” Grudem wrote. “This is the opposite of what Paul told us to pray for in 1 Timothy 2:2.”
The theologian remains hopeful that Trump could withdraw from the race.
Grudem’s about-face stands in stark contrast to Trump’s other top evangelical backers. Gary Bauer, Robert Jeffress, Eric Metaxas, Tony Perkins, and Ralph Reed all released statements saying they still believe the real estate mogul is the country’s best option for president. Liberty University president Jerry Falwell Jr., one of Trump’s most ardent evangelical supporters, had been silent since the video’s release on Friday but noted his continued support for Trump in a congratulatory tweet following Sunday night’s debate.
UPDATE: On Oct. 19, Wayne Grudem changed course again, advocating that conservatives vote for the policies attributed to Donald Trump.
J.C. is WORLD Radio’s managing editor. He spent 10 years covering sports, higher education, and politics for the Longview News-Journal and other newspapers in Texas before joining WORLD in 2012 and eventually becoming WORLD’s Washington Bureau chief. Follow J.C. on Twitter @jcderrick1.