The Donald Trump phenomenon is "reality television moral sewage", according to the head of the Southern Baptist Convention's Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission.
Speaking on CBS News 'Face the Nation', Russell Moore said a key tenet of conservatism was that "character matters" and that "virtue has an important role to play in our culture and in our politics". Now, he said, "we have a Republican party that seems ready not only to surrender on the culture wars but to join the other side".
Moore has been a trenchant critic of Trump, saying in an op-ed for the New York Times that opposition to the property mogul would put evangelicals "on the right side of Jesus" and that "The man on the throne in heaven is a dark-skinned, Aramaic-speaking 'foreigner' who is probably not all that impressed by chants of 'Make America great again'." However, his remarks on the programme are some of his hardest hits against Trump and evangelical Republicans who vote for him.
He said: "What we have in the Donald Trump phenomenon as well as in the Hillary Clinton phenomenon is an embrace of the very kind of moral and cultural decadence that conservatives have been saying for a long time is the problem," he said. He criticised "conservatives who were saying in the previous Clinton era that character matters, and rightly so, who now are not willing to say anything when we have this sort of reality television moral sewage coming through all over our culture".
Moore said that both Trump and Clinton represented "an amoral sort of vision of America that isn't what we believe in".
He said he believes many evangelicals, particularly those aged under 50, would believe they "cannot in good conscience vote for either candidate". While some conservative evangelicals would vote for Trump, he admitted, many others would not vote at all, would find a third party candidate or would write in for someone else.
These voters, he said, "believe there is something more than politics: a good conscience".