Some evangelical leaders who supported Trump dismissed the allegations of misogyny as a distraction. “To suggest that people who are voting for Trump are ratifying the worst of his behavior is simply not logical,” said Eric Metaxas, a radio-show host who has been a vocal supporter of Trump. “If people want to bludgeon you with, ‘Beth Moore said this and this,’ there’s no reaction except to say that anyone who has suffered [sexual abuse]—that’s one of the most serious things there is.”
On this and other issues, nearly everyone I spoke with emphasized a need for healing. As Newbell put it: “My heart is to care for the women have have been abused.” Metaxas said he got an email from a friend disavowing their relationship because he had supported Trump’s rise. “Fundamentally, as a Christian, we have to know that there is pain on the other side, and if I claim to be a Christian, I have to care about the pain on the other side,” Metaxas said.
Samuel Rodriguez, the head of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference, said he’s hoping to start a “unity movement” with Martin Luther Jr.’s daughter, Bernice King. “I want to tell Latinos there’s no reason to fear Donald Trump, at all,” he said. The president-elect allayed Rodriguez’s concerns about the wall in a conversation during the campaign, the pastor said. “We’re not going to permit anything that will separate and deport God-fearing, God-loving, hard-working families, whether they’re undocumented or not—that’s not going to happen.”
But a few predicted that this election could permanently damage attempts to create unity among evangelicals. “I spend most of my time in ministry talking and teaching about racial reconciliation,” said Jemar Tisby, the president of the Reformed African American Network, a “theologically traditional” coalition of black Christians and churches, as he described it. “The vast majority of white evangelicals with whom I interact are on board and want to see a more racially diversified and unified church. However, when that same constituency overwhelmingly supports Donald Trump, I feel like they haven’t understood any of my concerns as a racial minority and an African American.”
Anyabwile said it was disorienting to see so many of his fellow evangelicals seemingly overlook statements that were racist, misogynistic, and bigoted. During the campaign, many people argued that evangelical Christian Trump supporters weren’t really evangelicals; while they might identify that way, they aren’t really engaged in the church. “At 80 percent of evangelicals voting for Trump, I don’t think you can say ... that those people aren’t truly evangelicals, or that there’s two evangelicalisms,” said Anyabwile. “These are people in the church, in the pew with you.”
Some conservative churches and denominational organizations, including Moore and the Southern Baptist Convention, have been pushing for more conversations on race within the evangelical world. Now that Trump will be president of the United States, it’s unclear how the black Christians who fear Trump, like Tisby and Anyabwile, will reconcile with the white Christians who voted for him. When I spoke with him on Wednesday, Moore was a bit weary. “What I would have hoped to have seen this year, maybe even if people didn’t vote any differently than they did,” he said, is that people would “take seriously as moral questions those issues of racial justice and reconciliation in this country.”