Tierney McAfee
January 24, 2018 12:29 PM

Conservative evangelicals who support President Trump are willing to give him a pass for his alleged affair with porn star Stormy Daniels — and a whole lot more.

Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, a prominent evangelical activist group, says Trump gets a “mulligan” not only for allegedly having sex with Daniels four months after his wife, Melania, gave birth to their son — but also for, as Politico put it, “the cursing, the lewdness and the litany of questionable behavior over the past year of Trump’s life or the 70 that came before it.”  (Trump’s attorney Michael Cohen has denied he had a sexual relationship with Daniels.)

“We kind of gave him—‘All right, you get a mulligan. You get a do-over here,’ ” Perkins said in an interview for the latest episode of POLITICO’s Off Message podcast.

Perkins is a prime example of the many conservative evangelical leaders who he says embrace Trump the policymaker, despite their reservations about Trump the man.

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Perkins explained that evangelical Christians “were tired of being kicked around by Barack Obama and his leftists. And I think they are finally glad that there’s somebody on the playground that is willing to punch the bully.”

Asked why evangelicals don’t turn the other cheek, as instructed by their faith, Perkins replied, “You know, you only have two cheeks. Look, Christianity is not all about being a welcome mat which people can just stomp their feet on.”

More than 80 percent of evangelicals voted for Trump in the 2016 election, Politico reported, even after a leaked Access Hollywood tape from 2005 revealed Trump bragging about sexually assaulting women. Their support is starting to wane, however. According to a Pew poll from last month, Trump’s support among white evangelical Protestants dropped from 78 percent in February to 61 percent in December, and his approval rating among the overall electorate is now down to the mid-30s.

Perkins still believes in the president, though. He says he’s frequently prayed with Trump at the White House and seen his faith grow since he took office. Plus, Perkins is placated by the White House’s strong stance against abortion and its “religious freedom” executive orders (which critics argue is nothing more than an attempt to legalize discrimination against LGBTQ Americans).

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The Rev. Franklin Graham, the son of the Rev. Billy Graham and current president of his Evangelistic Association, recently told MSNBC of Trump, “We certainly don’t hold him up as the pastor of this country, and he’s not.”

“But I appreciate the fact that the president does have a concern for Christian values, he does have a concern to protect Christians—whether it’s here at home or around the world—and I appreciate the fact that he protects religious liberty and freedom.”

Perkins predicts that for all Trump’s bad behavior  — including his angry tweets, which Perkins claimed were just a “natural reaction” to the “hurtful” things said about the president — as long as he doesn’t disappoint evangelicals politically, they’ll continue supporting him.

“Whenever the policy stops, and his administration reverts to just personality,” Perkins said, “that’s where I believe the president will be in trouble.”

Until then, apparently, the president gets unlimited mulligans from evangelicals.

If you’re having trouble following their logic, you’re not alone. As Stephen Colbert summed up on his Tuesday night show, “Yes! A mulligan! Because marriage is like golf. Both things Trump claims to love but constantly cheats on. Allegedly. Allegedly.”

“I have no proof he cheats at golf,” he quipped.

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