Thrilled With His Supreme Court Pick, Here’s What Evangelicals Want From Trump Next

In this Jan. 31, 2016, file photo, Jerry Falwell Jr., president of Liberty University, smiles as he listens to Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, left, at a rally in Council Bluffs, Iowa. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong, File)
In this Jan. 31, 2016, file photo, Jerry Falwell Jr., president of Liberty University, smiles as he listens to Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, left, at a rally in Council Bluffs, Iowa. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong, File)

Ask an evangelical why he voted for President Trump and chances are high he will say it was because of the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court, after all, was responsible for issuing cases such as Roe v. Wade on abortion and Obergefell v. Hodges upholding gay marriage.

On Tuesday, many of those evangelicals who want a justice who they see as likely to help overturn Roe got their wish when Trump nominated Colorado federal appeals court judge Neil Gorsuch for the Supreme Court, an appointment seen as a huge win for social conservatives.

If Gorsuch is confirmed, though, what will evangelicals expect next from the president?

On Thursday, Trump is expected to address the National Prayer Breakfast, a tradition for presidents since President Dwight Eisenhower and an interreligious event that especially attracts evangelicals across the country. Trump could use the event to reiterate some of the campaign promises he made to evangelicals, including his promise to defund Planned Parenthood and help end the Johnson Amendment, which prohibits churches from endorsing or opposing political candidates.

A huge percentage (80 percent) of white evangelicals voted for Trump based on these promises, despite his involvement in the gambling industry, his previous views in favor of abortion rights and his obscene language about women.

Evangelicals expect Trump to continue to fulfill his promises to them, said Jerry Falwell Jr., president of Liberty University and an early Trump backer.

“It’s a happy group of people right now,” Falwell said of evangelicals.

Falwell and said he and other leaders who were involved in Trump’s campaign, such as televangelists James Robison and Paula White, feel like they have had the best access to any president in recent memory.

“I think Trump is more one of us. He’s not an elitist. He doesn’t look down his nose at evangelicals and Christians and conservatives. I’m very shocked by how accessible he is to so many. He answers his cellphone any time of the day or night.”

Falwell said his father, Jerry Falwell Sr., an architect of the Religious Right, never had such access to previous presidents, including Republican ones. He said hundreds of evangelicals are getting positions at the lower levels of the administration.

Under previous administrations, evangelicals would often go through a liaison to get their concerns heard. Falwell is pleased so far with his access to the Trump administration, saying he will talk with Trump on Wednesday and was on the phone with Trump adviser Steve Bannon on Tuesday. Bannon had asked him to lead a panel on reform of higher education regulations.

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SOURCE: The Washington Post
Sarah Pulliam Bailey

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