Judgment days

Clay Crum opened his Bible to Exodus Chapter 20 and read verse 14 one more time.

“Thou shalt not commit adultery,” it said.

He prayed about what he was going to do. He was the pastor of First Baptist Church in the town of Luverne, Ala., which meant he was the moral leader of a congregation that overwhelmingly supported a president who was an alleged adulterer. For the past six weeks, Crum had been preaching a series of sermons on the Ten Commandments, and now it was time for number seven.

It was summer, and all over the Bible Belt, support for President Trump was rising among voters who had traditionally proclaimed the importance of Christian character in leaders and warned of the slippery slope of moral compromise. In Crenshaw County, where Luverne is located, Trump had won 72 percent of the vote. Recent national polls showed the president’s approval among white evangelical Christians at a high of 77 percent. One survey indicated that his support among Southern Baptists was even higher, surpassing 80 percent, and these were the people arriving on Sunday morning to hear what their pastor had to say.

By 10:30 a.m., the street alongside First Baptist was full of slant-parked cars, and the 80 percenters were walking across the green lawn in the sun, up the stairs, past the four freshly painted white columns and into the church.

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