MSNBC Host Says Evangelical Leaders 'Turned Their Back' on Core Beliefs for White House Photo

MSNBC host and former U.S. Congressman Joe Scarborough said that he believed evangelical Christian leaders had essentially "turned their back" on their faith just for the benefit of appearing in a White House photograph with President Donald Trump.

Scarborough—who once represented Florida's 1st Congressional district in the House of Representatives as a Republican and now hosts the show Morning Joe on MSNBC—made the remarks Thursday morning while speaking to a panel that included historian and journalist Jon Meacham, former editor-in-chief at Newsweek.

The topic on hand was the fallout of the recent publication of an op-ed from the widely distributed evangelical magazine Christianity Today that called for the president's removal from office after his impeachment for abuse of power and obstruction of Congress. Since that piece's publication on December 19, many evangelical leaders have rallied to Trump's defense.

On Morning Joe, Scarborough implied that such leaders defending Trump were neglecting their own core beliefs.

"[T]he evangelicals that you and I grew up around," Scarborough said, addressing Meacham, "still, many go to church and worship the Lord, and keep politics out of it. But...there are very loud, very outspoken people—leaders of the faith—who actually have basically turned their back on basic core beliefs that you can find in the Sermon on the Mount [and] in Jesus's parables just for a White House photo. Just for the ability to appear on TV as one of the president's selected preachers."

The host went on to say that he had read one comment from an evangelical pastor who claimed the reason so many pastors "fall in line" with Trump's wishes is because they could not bear to have their name disparaged in an angry tweet from the president or be cut off from him.

Meacham, who has written several books on American political history and is a fierce critic of the president, told Scarborough that he was right and that the core tenet of the Bible is to love God and love your neighbor as yourself.

"Not a word there about a meet-and-greet with Donald Trump," Meacham said. "Same thing: not a word there about a meet-and-greet with a Democratic nominee."

White evangelical Christians have been one of the demographics most supportive and loyal to Trump. As Newsweek previously reported, among Trump's defenders after the Christianity Today op-ed were almost 180 evangelical leaders who signed a letter that condemned the piece and its sentiments against Trump.

Joe Scarborough
Joe Scarborough attends the 2018 Matrix Awards at Sheraton Times Square on April 23, 2018 in New York City. Rob Kim/Getty