Bible teacher Beth Moore is someone who “keeps politics out of it,” so the saying goes. When she speaks at events or on social media, the founder of Living Proof Ministries typically shares encouraging spiritual quips and jokes about her big Texan hair.
But last Sunday, in just 94 words, the 59-year-old Houstonian lighted a fire that arguably burned to the ground Donald Trump’s strained attempts to woo many evangelicals – especially women. In four tweets, without even mentioning the Republican presidential nominee, she pinpointed what many evangelical women have surmised throughout the election season: Having a president who is not ashamed of his misogyny and instead boasts of it would harm and dishonor women in this country – and the larger Christian church.
As the news broke that Trump had bragged in 2005 about sexually assaulting a woman, many Christian women stepped up to essentially say, “No more.”
Kay Warren, wife of Saddleback Church pastor Rick Warren and mental-health advocate, tweeted, “As a victim of sexual assault, I tell you firsthand of devastation wreaked on women & girls by predatory men & boys who think women ‘like it.’”
Popular author Jen Hatmaker took to Instagram to call Trump’s comments a “travesty” and “national disgrace,” and she reminded followers that they had many options on Election Day.
Julie Roys, a host with the conservative Moody Radio network, wrote, “I honestly don’t know what makes me more sick. Listening to Trump brag about groping women or listening to my fellow evangelicals defend him.”
We were angry after Trump minimized his words as “locker room talk.” But we were just as angry watching Christian leaders describe the statements as merely “inappropriate” and “low on (evangelicals’) hierarchy of their concerns.”
It’s actually hard to know which stung worse: Trump’s words or our leaders’ defense of him.
“Try to absorb how acceptable the . . . objectifying of women has been when some Christian leaders don’t think it’s that big of a deal,” Moore tweeted.
Pastors, college presidents and policy advisers who continue to defend Trump after his comments not only risk harming the church’s witness, they also risk alienating the largest segment of every evangelical church in America: women.
Some evangelical leaders – notably editors at Christianity Today and World magazines, as well as individuals such as James MacDonald and Wayne Grudem – have decried Trump’s comments.
But especially in light of more women coming forward with accusations of Trump groping them, many more male evangelical leaders need to publicly denounce Trump and the normalization of misogyny that he represents.
The lack of public acknowledgment signals to women a self-preserving fear of losing followers and constituents, and, at worst, a disregard for the seriousness of sexual assault.
Katelyn Beaty is an editor at large at Christianity Today magazine.