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Editor-in-Chief of Christianity Today, Russell Moore, spoke with NBC’s Chuck Todd, casting doubt on how strongly evangelicals will turn out to vote for Donald Trump in the upcoming 2024 election. “Almost every family that I know has people who don’t speak to each other anymore about this personality and this figure, and I think there are a lot of people, including conservative evangelicals like me, who are looking at this and saying, ‘Are we really going to do this again? Haven’t we seen this already? Do we really want to repeat it?’ And I suppose that will be the question for the rest of the year,” Moore said. At the center of Moore’s concerns with the former president are his present legal troubles, including charges by New York DA Alan Bragg and Trump’s having been found liable for defamation and sexual abuse against E. Jean Carroll.

Moore had previously written about his concerns in March, right as the former president announced he expected charges. He stated that Christians would have to look past whether Trump is “on their side” and determine if he is actually guilty of the charges. He also differentiated between issues of criminality and morality. “Cheating on one’s wife with a porn star is not a crime. Lying to one’s spouse and to one’s supporters is not itself a crime. All sorts of things that aren’t prosecutable offenses—nor should they be—are nonetheless morally repulsive. Just as those of us who are not Trump supporters must be forceful in stating that Donald Trump (and anyone else) is innocent until proven guilty, Trump supporters should recognize what now should be obvious: Personal character does indeed matter,” he wrote.

Evangelicals like Moore- those who have often struggled with whether or not to support someone who politically aligns with them but has character issues- are not the only ones struggling with the former president. Bob Vander Plaats, CEO of the Iowa-based Family Leader organization, criticized a recent CNN town hall President Trump participated in. “The former president could take a victory lap by just saying, ‘Hey, look at I’m the guy who gave you three Supreme Court justices that overturned Roe v. Wade. But instead, he then alienates himself from the pro-life community by saying you’re the reason we didn’t do better in 2022,” said Plaats in regards to what he saw as Trump “dodging” a question about whether or not he would support a federal abortion ban. Trump also recently criticized Florida Governor Ron DeSantis for signing a heartbeat bill, calling it “too harsh,” further driving a wedge between himself and pro-life evangelicals. Donald Trump remains the frontrunner in polling, however, Senator Tim Scott has just recently entered the race, joining Nikki Haley, Asa Hutchinson, Vivek Ramaswamy, and Larry Elder. Scott often aligned himself with President Trump during his presidency but has less character problems and has also openly spoken about his faith, which may appeal to evangelical leaders. Ron DeSantis, who has received a lot of criticism from Donald Trump as a perceived threat to his candidacy, is also rumored to be announcing his candidacy later this week, offering another possible option for evangelicals.

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