Donald Trump is a disturbed individual.
Even if one acknowledges that the media sometimes willfully misunderstands what he said when making their accusations, many disturbing things about him are now well-established.
He is a compulsive liar. He brags about cheating on his spouses. He has made a career out of objectifying women. He leads a life of idolatry, particularly when it comes to wealth. He has never sacrificed anything. He will say and do almost anything if it gets him attention.
Oh yeah, and he’s one of those Christians who has never asked God for forgiveness.
And now a recorded conversation has revealed Trump’s bragging about committing sexual violence—noting that because he’s “a star” he can get away with doing “anything” to women.
Let that sink in. The Republican candidate for president, not that long ago, was bragging about committing sexual violence.
Even if Trump were a sexual prude who treated women with deep respect, I’ve written at length about the many reasons the pro-life movement should refuse to support him. Not only was his dramatic turn away from being “pro-choice in every respect” far too convenient and confused, but his stances on things like nuclear weapons, torture, and killing the innocent in war are anything but pro-life.
Not everyone is convinced of this, obviously. Groups like the Susan B. Anthony List, Priests for Life, and National Right to Life have been publicly and strongly in support of Trump.
But bragging about sexual violence has got to be the last straw.
How can pro-lifers—especially Catholic pro-lifers—stoop low enough to support someone who did such a thing? The traditional pro-life groups who supported Trump have already undermined much of their credibility, but if they maintain support in light of these revelations they lose whatever amount they had left.
Regardless of how bad the other candidate is, there simply have to be some minimum standards for supporting a particular candidate.
Suppose, for the sake of argument, that David Duke were the Republican nominee — and he similarly promised to appoint pro-life judges and protect religious freedom. I certainly hope pro-lifers would consider Duke beyond the pale. In bragging that his fame gives him the power to grab women by their genitals, any reasonable pro-lifer must admit that Trump is beyond the pale.
For pro-life groups who have supported Trump until now, this is no doubt an unsettling proposition. Ditching Trump means recovering some integrity, sure, but it also means putting the more traditional pro-life movements in a vulnerable situation.
It is summed up well in this tweet from Chris Gast of Grand Rapids Right to Life of Michigan:
Embedded in this concern is the assumption that Hilary Clinton would appoint Supreme Court justices who would undermine the main legislative accomplishments and goals of the traditional pro-life movement.
But even if that were to end up being the case, there would still be so much for pro-life groups to do! We could work at making our case to Democrats and Independents more effectively. We could work with both parties to create more just social structures for women and families so that more people will choose life.
We could work to support pro-life Democrats, rather than defeating them, and start building a broad, non-partisan coalition.
And that’s just on abortion. The coalition which defeated assisted suicide in the United Kingdom was quite politically diverse; perhaps pro-life groups could devote more resources and attention to resisting this pernicious aspect of our throw-away culture in a similarly multi-partisan way.
What they simply cannot afford to do is debase the pro-life movement by allowing it to be identified with what Donald Trump stands for.
A new generation of young people is open to hearing us in ways that previous generations were not. But especially given their utter disdain for Trump, we blow a golden opportunity to win the cultural future if we continue to hitch our wagon to the candidacy of someone who brags about his sexual violence against women.
So, no, now is not the time to dig in and support Donald Trump for president. It is instead time to get down on our knees and pray for the salvation of his soul.
This is a man who, despite bragging about sexual violence (an intrinsically and gravely immoral act), by his own admission has never asked God for forgiveness. Something each and every one of us need if we are to be saved from our sins.
Let us pray that Trump will come to know God’s mercy and healing. But, at the same time, let us pray that the pro-life movement will develop the strength necessary to turn its support and attention somewhere else.
Charles C. Camosy is Associate Professor of Theological and Social Ethics at Fordham University. He is author of Beyond the Abortion Wars: a Way Forward for New Generation.