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The Evangelical Case for Voting for David Duke

August 3rd, 2016 | 10 min read

By Jake Meador

Some of my good Christian friends in the state of Louisiana have told me they cannot vote in good conscience for David Duke in this fall’s senate election. As they consider the Senate field in Louisiana, they look around and dislike all their options so much that they tell me they simply cannot bring themselves to support the lesser evil in this contest and so they will be forced to write in a different third-party candidate or abstain entirely.

At first glance, I can understand their reservations. Duke is, after all, a former grand wizard of the Ku Klux Klan. He’s led an organization with a history of lynching, arson, racial intimidation, and no shortage of other violent crimes. In addition to his long-standing links with the Klan, Duke has also publicly aligned himself with a Holocaust denier and his ex-wife played a major role in the founding of Stormfront, a major white nationalist and neo-Nazi website that at one time had more than 50,000 members.

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There is reason to think he may have distributed neo-Nazi literature during the early 1990s, perhaps even including Adolf Hitler’s book Mein Kampf. He has also been charged with inciting riots and tax fraud and in one of the early speeches after announcing his candidacy, he cited concerns about “ethnic cleansing” as being a major motivating factor in his campaign. And, yes, he once compared the holocaust to Affirmative Action. I know. I know.

As I said, I can understand why my evangelical friends would choose not to support Duke. But based on my extensive years studying Christian ethics I disagree. Since Duke has announced his candidacy for the senate race in Louisiana, I think it is a morally good choice to support David Duke.

Now, I know some of you will be wondering how an evangelical like myself could support a self-described white supremacist and neo-Nazi like Duke. How could someone who has previously expressed such concern about the moral qualifications of office holders suddenly turn a blind eye to Duke’s considerable failings? Am I simply sacrificing all of my credibility as a public Christian in order to seize a final dying chance at political power such that I’m willing to even support a charlatan who has so far furnished us with no credible reasons to think he will fulfill his promises to my constituency?

No, the truth is that I have credible reason to believe that Duke is a baby Christian. In fact, a friend of mine who pastors a large church in Houston, which is located quite close to Duke’s home state of Louisiana, has given me his personal assurance that Duke prayed the sinner’s prayer with him recently.

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Does he occasionally still use racial slurs when describing minorities? Sure.

Is he penitent about his divorce from his wife? No clue!

Does he still hand out Mein Kampf to people? Well, sometimes.

But we all stumble, guys. No one is perfect.

The important thing is that he is a baby Christian and we should show him grace. What’s more, just because he has many private moral failures does not mean we cannot give our support to him this November. Indeed, he is, by all accounts, a wonderful family man with great children. Past indiscretions, such as completely horrifying things he might have said in the past 12 months, should not be held against him as he seeks elected office. God calls us to show grace to the penitent and that obviously means we should vote for the penitent when they are running for elected office.

If people will mock me for my endorsement of Duke, I can only take comfort from the fact that self-righteous religious people once mocked Jesus for associating with tax collectors and sinners.

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Beyond these basic considerations, a further point must be made: Hillary Clinton is bad. Hillary Clinton is pro-choice. She is opposed to religious liberty. Hillary’s America will be an America that is closed to religious schools and that sees all attempts to legally limit the number of abortions shot down by an activist Supreme Court. Not only that, Hillary will have the opportunity to appoint as many as four different Supreme Court justices.

David Duke will be an invaluable ally on all these issues. We particularly need him in the Senate as the Senate plays a pivotal role in approving Supreme Court nominees made by the president. The latest polls suggest that the Democrats may well take not only the White House this fall, but also the Senate. If that happens, Hillary could easily appoint four Ruth Bader Ginsburg-style liberals to the Supreme Court. She could create a 6-3 or even 7-2 liberal majority on the court that will last for at least one generation and quite probably longer than that. The damage the courts could do during that time cannot even be imagined. By supporting Duke’s run for the Senate, we can increase the number of solid conservatives in the Senate opposing Hillary’s activist judicial appointments.

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Some critics, after hearing the above argument, have asked me if there is anyone evangelicals should not support if that person will appoint good Supreme Court justices. Others have beat around the bush with this question but I’m going to give it to you straight: We cannot be perfectionists when it comes to politics. If a prominent politician is willing to fight for pro-life judges and to protect religious liberty, we should support them, period.

This is not a time for division over small, petty things like basic moral principles. This is a time to unite behind the sorts of leaders who will deliver to us the Pyrrhic victories that have defined our proud movement for decades. We simply don’t have time for the nonsensical reasoning of those voters who claim we cannot support Duke because “he’s a racist,” or “he got a divorce,” or “he is a Neo-Nazi.” These are past, minor mistakes that Duke has made. They won’t affect how he governs.

Some of you might also be wondering whether or not we should stop to ask ourselves “is the worst-case scenario with the pro-life candidate worse than the worst-case scenario with Hillary?”

For example, you might raise concerns about Donald Trump’s odd and, let’s be honest, comparatively minor remarks about killing the families of terrorists earlier this year. He didn’t mean it. He was just shooting from the hip and being authentic. Who hasn’t casually wondered aloud about ordering others to commit war crimes in a moment of absent mindedness?

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Just last week I suggested in a church leadership meeting that we could increase attendance at our SBC church by opening canisters of mustard gas outside the local PCA church. My pastor told me that this would be a bad thing to do and I apologized… after I had already done it and a bunch of Presbyterians ended up in the hospital. But it’s OK now. They all survived. Well, one of them is blind. But let’s not count that one. It was an accident. I was trying to get people to come to my church. My intentions were noble. Really, I don’t think I did anything wrong. But even if I did, it’s done now. No need to keep talking about it.

Remember, let him who is without sin cast the first stone.

You might also wonder if we can really justify support for a guy who is literally a neo-Nazi on the comparatively slender argument from the Supreme Court. Well, given that a guy who wrote a biography about one of the great opponents of the Nazis is endorsing Trump, I can assure you that this is no cause for concern. God in his wisdom and grace has called America to lead the world in promoting righteousness.

Therefore we must support David Duke.

It’s actually very simple:

People who will oppose Hillary are good.

Because Hillary is bad because she’ll appoint bad judges.

David Duke will oppose Hillary.

Therefore David Duke is good and we should support him this fall.

Ultimately, when it comes down to the ethics of voting, it really is as simple as that.

Note: If you want a more serious treatment of the Trump phenomenon, we’ve written about it at length elsewhere on this site. You can see the full archives of our work on the subject by looking through the Donald Trump tag.

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Jake Meador

Jake Meador is the editor-in-chief of Mere Orthodoxy. He is a 2010 graduate of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln where he studied English and History. He lives in Lincoln, NE with his wife Joie, their daughter Davy Joy, and sons Wendell, Austin, and Ambrose. Jake's writing has appeared in The Atlantic, Commonweal, Christianity Today, Fare Forward, the University Bookman, Books & Culture, First Things, National Review, Front Porch Republic, and The Run of Play and he has written or contributed to several books, including "In Search of the Common Good," "What Are Christians For?" (both with InterVarsity Press), "A Protestant Christendom?" (with Davenant Press), and "Telling the Stories Right" (with the Front Porch Republic Press).