Christians who support Donald Trump have no business criticizing Hugh Hefner

Within hours after Playboy founder Hugh Hefner died on Wednesday, evangelical Christians began writing predictable eulogies about how he exploited women and encouraged immorality.

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But one glaring hypocrisy ruins the sincerity of their words: Many of these evangelical promoters of sexual purity voted for Donald Trump, remained silent while their Christian allies voted for Trump, or weren’t disturbed enough by everything Trump did before the election to vote against him.

You can’t trash Hugh Hefner when your rhetoric against the president is either mild or non-existent.

No one has summarized my disgust any better than Brandon Ambrosino, writing for Religion News Service:

In many ways, both men objectified women, but I honestly think Trump was worse about it. Some have pointed out that while Trump’s sexual indiscretions were momentary, Hefner’s were a lifelong habit. But Trump, decades-long owner of beauty pageants, has repeatedly and consistently bragged about the sexual behavior he’s “gotten away with” over the years with various women, who, according to his own admission, did not always consent to his advances — if we can even call unwanted groin-grabbing an “advance”…

It just seems like there’s cognitive dissonance going on here. If you believe the objectification and sexualization of women are bad for society, then why would Trump be your candidate?

“Cognitive dissonance” is the perfect descriptor for what we’re seeing here.

Hefner, born to devout Methodist parents but becoming an atheist in adulthood, never pretended to be anything other than who he was. Trump, on the other hand, strategically catered to the evangelical crowd by hitting all their hot-button topics. He promised to overturn Obergefell, told them they could say “Merry Christmas” again, talked about how the Bible was the only book better than his own, and formed an evangelical advisory board. Even since taking office, he’s signed a (virtually useless) executive order allowing pastors to promote candidates from the pulpit without putting their churches’ tax exemptions at risk and tweeted out a ban on transgender troops in the military.

Why do all these things? To get those Christian votes and keep his base happy. His sincerity was always in question, but evangelicals voted for him in large numbers, arguably because he also promised to appoint anti-abortion justices to federal courts. That’s the one promise he’s kept so far.

Never mind that Trump himself doesn’t give a rat’s ass about any of those issues. He knew what to say to win them over, and they fell for it. More to the point, they supported him while hand-waiving away his sexual indiscretions, racist history, active bigotry, obvious lies, and awful treatment of those who worked for him by simply writing it all off as mere “sins.” We’re not electing a pastor, said people who spent years trying to impeach Bill Clinton for his own (consensual) indiscretions.

Ambrosino continues:

Today’s outrage over Hefner reminds me of two things about the evangelical voting bloc: One, that its members still sometimes care about sexual morality. And two, that they usually only care about sexual morality when they are able to leverage that concern to motivate voters. In my book, these evangelicals have lost any moral high ground from which to lecture culture about sexual morality.

He’s absolutely right.

Nothing destroys the idea of “Christian morality” more than blatant, unrepentant hypocrisy.

There’s a lot that Hugh Hefner deserves to be criticized for. But the conservative Christians who go after him while the body is still warm aren’t people who have any credibility to make those arguments.

This piece originally appeared on Friendly Atheist.

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About Beth Caplin

Just an author, blogger, and editor working hard so my cats can have a better life.
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7 Responses to Christians who support Donald Trump have no business criticizing Hugh Hefner

  1. Kate says:

    I am confused about one part of your post, where you talk about Bill Clinton and his consensual indiscretions. What about Paula Jones and Juanita Broaddrick, do you believe their stories?

    I’d say many of us have some cognitive dissonance when it comes to issues like this. The local high school students that walked out of school in protest after Trump’s election blast misogynist music from their cars when they are leaving school.

    Celebrities that denounce Trump turn the other way when they work with directors like Woody Allen.

    As an aside, my mom and Hefner attended the same Chicago high school(not at the same time). Hillary Clinton grew up a few miles away in a suburb. One wonders what leads one to an ordinary life vs a life in the spotlight.

    For me the harm that Hefner did was promote a very narrow standard of beauty. I read an article once that almost all of the playmates had very specific proportions/measurements. Most of the playmates were blonde(or colored their hair blonde).

    A question for Sharon, were these black political figures you speak about all men, or men and women?

    Like

    • Beth Caplin says:

      “Sexual indiscretions” in that context refers strictly to Monica Lewinsky. I wasn’t giving my own opinion there, just explaining hypocritical behavior from the ‘moral majority.’

      Like

  2. And these same people ignore that Hef actually had quite a civil rights legacy. Was he a good guy? Not always. Was he human, with attendant failings? Sure. But when he was giving black political figures, journalists, and musicians a voice in a primarily white audience during the civil rights era, that was a very important thing.

    Like

  3. Am I Thirty? says:

    I don’t follow evangelical Christians but I am not surprised to see that they criticize Hugh Hefner while supporting Trump. It’s insane thinking but I do not find it shocking. You said it best when you stated that at least Hugh Hefner never pretended to be anything else. He was upfront about who he was so that’s why Trump is so much worse.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. socalkdl says:

    Nailed it! Shared on Facebook.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. bobcabkings says:

    Reblogged this on cabbagesandkings524 and commented:
    Beth Caplin makes the case (quite well) for this title.

    Liked by 1 person

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