What are the strongest arguments for a Christian to support Donald Trump for the US presidency?

First, let me say that I will respond to your questions as a private individual and not as a representative of the organization I lead.

I don’t vote for candidates or political parties. I support those who will lead the country righteously, honorably, and wisely. In many ways, this is a single-issue election because it will affect every dimension of American life: the makeup of the Supreme Court. Antonin Scalia’s sudden death made this election the most significant of our lifetime. The next president will nominate perhaps three or more justices whose judicial philosophy will shape our country for generations to come.

Unelected, unaccountable, and imperialistic justices have a history of imposing horrendous decisions on the nation. One decision that still plagues us is Roe v. Wade, imposed on America in 1973. It divided the nation and has led to the murders of 54 million innocent babies. This killing goes on every day.

That leads us to ask what the judiciary will look like in a Trump administration. I attended a June 2016 event called “A Conversation with Donald Trump” in New York, with more than 1,000 other religious leaders. Before the meeting, 30 of us met Trump in a private session in Trump Tower. Most were evangelicals or conservative Catholics. I asked the candidate about his concerns regarding religious liberty.

I liked that he promised us emphatically that he will work to protect our religious liberties. He has since released a list of potential Supreme Court nominees that is stellar. We must pray that, if elected, he will keep his word.

Trump’s selection of Governor Mike Pence as his running mate was a hugely encouraging decision. I’ve been a personal friend of Gov. Pence for more than 30 years. He is pro-life, pro–traditional marriage, a godly family man, a solid conservative, and a competent leader. There is no politician whom I respect more.

Many supporters of Trump believe that Clinton would be a disaster for the country. What are your concerns about Clinton?

My greatest concern is related again to the judiciary. Clinton has said she will seek to overturn religious liberty and bring the power of government against people of faith. She has made this clear on many occasions, including a comment she made during the Women in the World Summit in 2015.

Laws about “reproductive health care” and safe childbirth “have to be backed up with resources and political will,” Clinton said. “And deep-seated cultural codes, religious beliefs, and structural biases have to be changed.”

“Reproductive health care” is a euphemism for abortion, so that threat should send chills down the backs of every true believer in Jesus. It blatantly contradicts guarantees of the US Constitution. We dare not give ultimate power to anyone who does not respect or feel limited by this historic document. It is the basis for all the freedoms handed to us by the founding fathers.

I’m convinced that with the wrong president, we will soon see a massive assault on religious liberty. Certain powerful groups and organizations seek to weaken the church of Jesus Christ and limit what pastors and ministers can say and do publicly. They believe some of our teachings represent “hate speech” and must be stifled. They seek to severely restrict the freedoms of Christian schools, nonprofit organizations, businesses, hospitals, charities, and seminaries. With Christian colleges and universities, they want to limit whom their leaders choose as professors and what their students will be taught. Government funding and accreditation will be in the crosshairs, and you can be sure that home schools will be targeted.

We at Family Talk have experienced this tyranny firsthand. The Department of Health and Human Services has mandated that Family Talk and many other Christian nonprofits cover contraceptives known as abortifacients in their healthcare plans. They include the morning-after pill and other medications that are known to prevent embryos from implanting in the uterus. They can be baby killers, and we consider them immoral. The Feds have forced us to sue to find relief. We are now in a federal lawsuit that may be decided by the Supreme Court. If we lose our case and refuse to comply, we’ll face ruinous fines and will be forced to close our doors. It all will depend on five attorneys who sit on the Court.

There are many other concerns about Clinton’s candidacy. She has proposed to pay for abortions in countries around the world, including generous funding for Planned Parenthood; and she is committed to the most radical demands of the LGBTQ agenda, to name but two.

Many Christians are deeply troubled by Trump’s rhetoric, especially his comments about Hispanics, women, and Muslims in particular; they characterize his comments as bigoted.

Trump speaks in hyperbole, clearly. His rhetoric has been inexcusable, and I don’t defend it. I hope that the criticism he has received from the public will have an influence on his speech. I think it already has.

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If Trump turns out to be an incorrigible demagogue, we can hope he will be reined in by the political process.

I serve on a faith committee of 22 conservative Christian leaders, and we are working to help Trump make the right choices. I know that Franklin Graham, Jerry Falwell Jr., Robert Jeffress, James Robison, and many other respected leaders have direct access to him. If Trump turns out to be an incorrigible demagogue, we can hope he will be reined in by the political process. There are checks and balances in our system of government.

So you don’t think this a reason not to support Trump.

I don’t believe for a second that Hillary Clinton isn’t using equally incendiary rhetoric behind the scenes about many people, especially conservatives. Policy is what matters.

Last week, I had an appointment with an ophthalmologist for a routine eye exam. A technician pressed a metal device against my face. I looked through two holes and saw a short line of type. She then asked, “Is this good?” Then, after changing the lens, she asked, “Is this better?” I was given only two choices: number one or number two.

This is where we are as a nation during this election. Is it one or is it two? There is no viable third choice.

There are obviously characteristics of Trump that I wish I could change. However, I believe he is the best candidate available, period.

Many evangelicals are critical of Trump’s lifestyle, such as his pride in sleeping with many women and his investments in gambling, to name two. Do these behaviors concern you?

Of course they concern me. In an ideal world, I would want a godly man or woman for president, but there doesn’t appear to be any such person on the ballot. And some of those characterizations appear to reflect Trump’s past. As a Christian, I love it when people change, and I pray that he has. Evangelist Paula White says that she led him to Christ. I don’t know what his commitment to Christ is—that’s for God to decide. I’m not under any illusions that he is an outstanding moral example, but I do think he’s a good father.

As I said in my endorsement, “Without a doubt, my decision to recommend Trump has been influenced by the way his children speak of him as a dad.” As a psychologist and a family counselor, I have spent my life equipping families. I have observed that you cannot make a child talk about his or her parents the way Trump’s children speak of him.

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I do know that Trump has surrounded himself with many Christian leaders. Apparently, he was doing this long before he decided to run for president. He has engaged in the hard work of building relationships with the faith community and has vowed to uphold our values with his legislative and judicial priorities. It’s a cliché but true: We are electing a commander-in-chief, not a theologian-in-chief.

How would you summarize your view on Trump’s candidacy?

I believe this great country is hanging by a thread. If we make another tragic mistake after putting Barack Obama in office for eight years, we will never recover from it. Trump may disappoint and embarrass us repeatedly in office. But Hillary Clinton, given her lawless behavior and what she has promised to do, would be a disaster. She will build on Obama’s policies to redefine marriage, expand abortion policies, assault gender identities, tax and spend our resources, appoint liberal judges and justices, and on it goes. There has to be a better person to lead us out of the wilderness. Is it Donald Trump? I pray that it is. If he turns out to be a failure, then our grandkids and future generations are the ones who will suffer. If Clinton is elected, that suffering will begin much sooner.

James Dobson is founder and president of Family Talk, a ministry that promotes principles that support marriage, family, and child development. His most recent book is Your Legacy: The Greatest Gift.

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