Why did the values voters surrender on the character question? Gushee blames “hyper-partisanship”—and, indeed, it’s hard not to see Trump-era tribalism at work here. But leading conservative Christians told me the reasons extend beyond the latest election.
Albert Mohler, president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, said that many of his fellow evangelicals have simply lost faith in the caliber of America’s political leaders. “In the 1960 presidential election, the voters basically assumed the basic moral probity of both Richard Nixon and John F. Kennedy,” he told me. “Forty years later, voters came to understand that one was a serial philanderer and the other was a paranoid leader who was a habitual liar … We live in an entirely different information environment, and I do think that changes a lot.”
With modern technology and media making it more common than ever for politicians’ private transgressions to be exposed, Mohler said, conservative Christians are adjusting their expectations accordingly.