You hear a lot about the Evangelical Movement in the United States during an election year, when the group is supposed to hold an enormous sway over the results. Their support is, of course, lavished upon Republicans, steadfast members of the Family Values Party. (The Gated Community Values Party just doesn't have the same ring, does it, although it would be more accurate as far as the GOP's true allegiance.)

The prospect of devout Christians actually supporting the party's current presidential nominee, whose grasp of the concept of truth seems as illusive as Bigfoot, was puzzling. Either evangelicals must have really expanded the perimeters of what I always assumed to be their core beliefs — such as an adherence to truth — or maybe I just wasn't aware of what those values actually were.

I turned to Wikipedia for enlightenment where I read that Evangelicalism is a "worldwide, transdenominational movement that maintains that the essence of the gospel consists in the doctrine of salvation by grace though faith in Jesus Christ's atonement. Evangelicals believe in the authority of the Bible as God's revelation to humanity, and spreading the Christian message."

It looked as if evangelicals must have expanded their perimeters on a scale that is the theological equivalent of the Louisiana Purchase.

Imagine it. Donald Trump is the man in whom tens of thousands of supposedly devout people have invested their hopes and the future of the country they profess to love. He is an affront to civility; a black hole of destructive self-interest, oblivious to anything that gets sucked into its vortex. His "policies" are a convoluted mish-mash of whatever flits into his vacuous mind and the particular audience he is pandering to.


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The Family Values candidate traded the mother of his three children in for a showgirl wanna-be he boasted about bedding before the end of his first marriage. He subsequently discarded her for a "supermodel," whose nude photographs are now plastered all over the Internet. (And Mamie Eisenhower is rolling over in her grave.)

In the best Nixonian tradition, the Trump campaign has followed a classic dirty tricks technique to make their loose cannon competitive against an extremely competent, articulate, intelligent woman, who has devoted her entire professional life to serving the best interests of her country, especially its children. They have taken all of the revelations that have come to light concerning Mr. Trump's sleazy past and concocted the same criticisms about Mrs. Clinton.

The Clinton Foundation does an enormous amount of good in the world. Eighty-nine percent of donations go directly to charitable causes. That is a better ratio than that of the Red Cross. Donations to the Trump Foundation go to buying six-foot oil paintings of (who else?) Mr. Trump.

The Trump Foundation donations also provide its namesake with the opportunity to make illegal contributions to people like Florida's attorney general, Pam Bondi. She dropped a pending state investigation into allegations that Trump University swindled students out of money intended for their education. Mr. Trump paid a piddling $2,500 fine for the bribe, a great investment if it kept Florida officials from looking too closely at one of his more despicable cons.

Mrs. Clinton's cough and a bout with pneumonia are inflated into life threatening illnesses. Small matter that Trump, sporting that peculiar orange complexion that John Boehner found so attractive, dredged up a doctor who submitted an evaluation of his health that Danielle Steel might have found too effusive. (Tipping the scales at almost 240 pounds at age 70, with a disposition like a spoiled seven-year-old, Mr. Trump is certainly no poster boy for good health.)

Overshadowing everything, however, is the ease with which he lies and the willingness of his constituency to accept the lies without question, like lemmings headed for the cliff.

For five years, he was the shrillest voice in the refuge for whack jobs called the birther camp. Forced to finally admit that Obama was born in America, he typically shuffled off any responsibility for perpetuating the racist slander. In that contorted labyrinth of self-interest he calls a mind, he said Hillary Clinton was the source of the birther nonsense. He cast himself as a hero for discrediting it, despite the fact that, up until a few days ago, he was still maintaining that Obama was foreign-born in that coy, deflective way he has for dodging responsibility.

Mrs. Clinton had the best response during the ensuing outrage over Trump's ludicrous birther lie. She simply said, "This is who he is."

And who he is, is very, very scary.

— Alden Graves is a regular Banner columnist.

The opinions expressed by columnists do not necessarily reflect the views of the Bennington Banner.