This month I would like to discuss the unlikely victory of Donald J. Trump over Hillary Clinton in the presidential election of 2016 and explore its remarkable meaning. Virtually every pundit and news organization told the nation incessantly that Mrs. Clinton would be a certain winner on November 8. As we all know, they were shockingly wrong. Now that the ballots have been counted and even recounted, the media are making another mistake.
We are being told that Trump’s win is attributed to white working class males in the rust belt who were angry about their difficult financial circumstances. They did respond in huge numbers, but it wasn’t enough to account for the Republican victory.
There is a more accurate explanation for Trump’s victory. Polls and surveys tell us that an unprecedented turnout by evangelical and conservative Catholic voters made the difference.1 This demographic was targeted by Lift the Vote and other non-profit organizations that focused primarily on turning out evangelical Christians in key battleground states.
Lift the Vote had three buses on the road between September 16 and November 8, Election Day, which made stops in Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Colorado, Nevada, North Carolina, Florida, and Virginia. The group “distributed stickers proclaiming, ‘I’m a Christian. I’m voting!’ to over 400,000 people as a crucial part of the ‘high touch/boots-on-the-ground’ voter turnout initiative,” according to the organization’s statement.2
“Trump carried the evangelical vote by an overwhelming 81-16 margin,” Lift the Vote said, citing preliminary exit polling data from a Pew Research report released on November 9, the day after the election. “Exit polling also reveals that Trump won Catholic votes by a seven-point margin, 52-45,” Lift the Vote said.3
“Christians made a difference this time,” said Lift the Vote national co-chair Dana Hunsinger Gill. “We were organized, we prayed together, we encouraged one another, and we focused on policies and Christian principles. Lift the Vote connected with Christians face to face; we heard their concerns and urged them to pray with one another, discern, and vote,” said Gill.4
She continued, “We heard over and over again from Christians concerned about religious liberty, life, and the appointment of Supreme Court Justices who will protect the Constitution. Now, we need to stay involved and active to hold our elected officials accountable.”5
Given the clarity of these findings from Pew Research and other polling entities, why do you think the news media have rarely mentioned these findings? Hmmmm . . . I wonder why. Almost a month after the election, many Democrats and liberals still do not understand Trump’s appeal to evangelical voters. The explanation is not such a mystery. A survey commissioned by the Family Research Council produced similar results. It indicated that nearly 60 percent of Trump’s voters were impacted by the sanctity of human life and religious liberty issues and the GOP platform. That platform is said to have been the most conservative in party history.6
Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, said that the GOP platform was the bridge between Donald Trump and conservative voters.
We must also remember that Christian evangelist Rev. Franklin Graham launched a 50-state Decision America tour that began on the steps of the State Capitol in Des Moines, Iowa.
“Don’t tell me your vote doesn’t count,” Graham said that day.7
Who can estimate the impact of that exhausting nine-month tour to get out the vote? Now we come to the point of this letter. We need to understand not only how evangelical and conservative Catholics voted but WHY they gave Trump their support.
I am convinced it is because of three primary factors. They are: the sanctity of human life, the Constitutional guarantees of religious liberty that are being shredded, and the promise by Mr. Trump to appoint pro-life Justices to the Supreme Court. These issues are all related, of course.
Let’s talk first about preserving life versus destroying it. America is about to commemorate the 44th anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision handed down by the Supreme Court on January 22, just two days after the Inauguration of Donald J. Trump. This month has enormous significance in that regard. The Roe v. Wade ruling in 1973 tragically has led to the deaths of nearly 60 million babies. Our new president-elect says emphatically that he will appoint Justices to the Supreme Court who will be defenders of life. Is it a stretch to conclude that this promise may have given the election to President-elect Trump? I think not. Let me tell you why I am convinced that it was instrumental to the outcome.
In the run-up to the presidential election on November 8, a final debate of the issues was held between Democrat Hillary Clinton and her Republican opponent, Donald J. Trump. The event was moderated by Chris Wallace, who asked a stark question about the legal status of unborn children. Specifically, he wanted the candidates to discuss a procedure known as partial-birth abortion.
When Mrs. Clinton responded, she skirted the issue. Wallace asked her to clarify her position. “Secretary Clinton, I want to explore how far you believe the right to abortion goes. You have been quoted as saying that the fetus has no Constitutional rights. You also voted against a ban on late-term, partial-birth abortions. Why?”8
Hillary then came clean. She indicated unmistakably that she supported the killing of babies through the entire period of gestation and delivery. She made it clear that those tiniest and most vulnerable human beings among us have NO rights whatsoever, as long as they reside in the “safety” of their mothers’ bodies. Even if it is by the final inch of a body part, he or she can be subjected to a most horrendous assault that will tear them to pieces. That is what Mrs. Clinton advocated. American law and justice, according to the woman who wanted to be our president, were irrelevant to the lives of millions of innocent babies. And America was watching and listening.
Let’s be sure we understand what the cold reality of the clinical term, “partial-birth abortion,” means in practice. A tiny body can be entirely out of the birth canal, with its arms and legs wiggling, fully brimming with life. Then the head appears, which is called “the crown,” and an abortionist inserts a cannula (tube) into the back of the head and turns on a powerful machine that literally sucks the brains from an unanesthetized baby. Pieces of brain tissue and bone splatter into the container. It is a Nazi-like procedure, but this is what Mrs. Clinton promoted on worldwide television. This woman, who claimed repeatedly during her campaign that she has “fought tirelessly for families and children,” showed no compassion for this utter brutality. She seemed not to comprehend the gravity of the position she has taken.
A person with more humane reactions to horror and death would recoil from the thought of this procedure. The October 20 Independent Journal Review said, “Even Democrats were cringing when Hillary gave her ‘late-term abortion’ answers.”9
Mr. Wallace then turned to Mr. Trump and asked for his reaction. He said, “Well, I think it's terrible. If you go with what Hillary is saying, in the ninth month, you can take the baby and rip the baby out of the womb of the mother just prior to the birth of the baby. Now, you can say that that's okay, and Hillary can say that that's okay. But it's not okay with me, because based on what she's saying, and based on where she's going, and where she's been, you can take the baby and rip the baby out of the womb in the ninth month on the final day. And that's not acceptable.”10
I believe millions of Americans shuddered as the candidates spoke. They were being asked to vote for a president who would impose baby-killing on the nation for any reason, or for no reason, throughout the full term of pregnancy, and to re-establish its legality in American jurisprudence forever. God help us.
The other powerful issue that the public grasped was Clinton’s lack of respect for religious liberty, as spelled out in the Constitution. That had to have influenced a huge number of evangelical and Catholic voters. I can tell you that it certainly had meaning for me. We have already had a taste of that discrimination in the past eight years. For example, the Obama Administration tried to force Family Talk to provide abortifacients to its employees. I wrote the President and said we would not comply with his order. Thanks to the Alliance Defending Freedom and our general counsel, Martin Nussbaum, at Lewis Roca Rothgerber Christie, we fought the President and HHS in the federal courts. While we won at federal District Court, our case has been “on hold” at the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals while other cases, such as the Little Sisters of the Poor, pressed the issue at the Supreme Court. We now have great hope this matter will resolve in the interest of our religious freedom – saving Family Talk from ruinous fines – through the decisions made either by President Trump or by those he appoints as Secretary of HHS, Attorney General, or Supreme Court Justice.
Another reason I believe Hillary Clinton lost the election was because she ignored people of faith in her campaign. While she was speaking with disdain about them, Mr. Trump met with 1,000 evangelical leaders in New York City for a “conversation” with faith leaders. I heard him promise that day to end the egregious Johnson Amendment, which prohibited non-profit organizations, such as ours, from speaking freely about candidates for political office. There were other historic commitments made that day by Donald Trump. I left the meeting with a determination to help him win the election, speaking as a private individual, and I kept that pledge. I fully believe it was this comparison between the two candidates that led millions of evangelicals and conservative Catholics to vote for Donald Trump.
I would like to make it clear that Donald Trump is a flawed vessel, just as we all are. He may disappoint us at various bends in the road, and indeed, he has already done that with the appointment of Rex Tillerson as Secretary of State. Tillerson corrupted the Boy Scouts during his season in leadership. But the ghastly promises made by Hillary Clinton were far more disturbing. The nominations she said she planned to make to the U.S. Supreme Court would have plagued the nation for decades.
That is what I wanted to share with you during this month when we recognize Sanctity of Human Life Sunday. Celebrate life this January 22 and thank God that abortion on demand may soon be struck down by a newly constituted Supreme Court. Wouldn’t that be a blessing? We also need to be in prayer for our President, his Cabinet, and the Congress, as they seek to reorder our Ship of State. It is listing badly, and only divine intervention can put it back on course.
Thanks to all of you who contributed to Family Talk in December and so far in January. Without your support, we wouldn’t be able to fight the battle for righteousness in our culture. We pledge to continue working to help preserve liberty and freedom for future generations.
Sincerely in Christ,
P.S. Since this letter has focused largely on the sanctity of human life, there is a powerful book and movie that I want to recommend to you. It is called Gosnell: The Untold Story of America’s Most Prolific Serial Killer by Ann McElhinney and Phelim McAleer. Gosnell killed thousands of babies in his Philadelphia abortion clinic, including the murder of infants who were born alive. The authors expose the web of protection for the abortion industry, but leftist Hollywood producers and directors are doing all they can to keep the movie from showing in theaters. Pray that the Holy Spirit will open the hearts and minds of the American people to the travesty of abortion.
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