Daniel Myers is holding out hope that Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump gets indicted before Election Day.
It’s the only way he’ll be able to make a decision before stepping into the voting booth next Tuesday.
Myers is a young evangelical Christian, raised in the religious circles that reliably supported Republicans for decades.
His mother and grandmother are supporting Trump, worried that a Clinton presidency would be eight more years of Barack Obama.
Older evangelical leaders – like 54-year-old Liberty University President Jerry Falwell Jr., 80-year-old Focus on the Family founder James Dobson and 86-year-old Christian Broadcasting Network founder Pat Robertson – have continued to support Trump, arguing a Clinton presidency would have disastrous implications for Christians.
I would consider myself a Republican, but it’s hard for me to bring myself to vote for someone like Donald Trump.
Daniel Myers, 23, evangelical Christian
But Trump’s comments about women and policy flip-flops, along with Clinton’s support of abortion rights and the prospect of a liberal Supreme Court, put young religious conservatives like Myers in a bind.
Myers’ faith is a central part of his life. He still attends Bible study every Tuesday night at Texas Christian University despite graduating in May.
The 23-year-old is a former president of TCU’s Campus Crusade for Christ branch, a nondenominational religious group on campus, and he sees a lot of young Christians struggling with their votes.
“I would consider myself a Republican, but it’s hard for me to bring myself to vote for someone like Donald Trump,” Myers said. “I’m humbled and resting in the fact that the God of this world is bigger and much greater than one of the two that are going to run the United States.”
Myers is at ease less than a week from Election Day, confident his faith will outweigh the negative outcomes of a Trump or Clinton presidency.
He said his Christian friends who were Democrats were solidly backing Clinton, although he cannot tell whether it’s “a pro-Hillary or anti-Trump kind of thing.”
“The national data is how weak Republicans are with millennials,” said University of Houston political scientist and pollster Richard Murray. “Boy, they didn’t like Trump and they didn’t like Republicans.”
A recent Harvard University poll shows millennials supporting Clinton by 49 to 21 percent over Trump. Yet nearly 70 percent of self-identified evangelicals support Trump, although that is down from 2012, when Mitt Romney received 79 percent of the evangelical vote.
Myers’ Republican millennial friends are faced with voting for a nominee who appears to know little about the religious traditions that are the bulwark of the Republican base.
“When he said ‘Two Corinthians’ instead of Second Corinthians I’m kind of like ‘Oh my gosh, here we go,’ ” Myers said in reference to Trump flubbing the name of a book of the Bible during a speech at Liberty University.
“My more-Republican friends kind of stand where I am. It’s hard to favor someone who has said what he said and who has done what he has done.”
When he said ‘Two Corinthians’ instead of Second Corinthians I’m kind of like ‘Oh my gosh here we go.’
former TCU student Daniel Myers on Trump’s religious knowledge
Myers, who voted for Romney in 2012, wants to hear more about Clinton’s and Trump’s energy policies. He works in the oil and gas industry and said he might be inclined to support a candidate who backed more drilling for natural gas since oil was “not the cleanest or most efficient.”
“I don’t think a whole lot of money should go towards solar and wind power,” Myers said. “It doesn’t bring in a whole lot of results. I know Hillary is sort of leaning towards solar power and wind power and she’s just kind of cut off fracking and natural gas. I think Donald was more pro-oil.”
In contrast to Falwell, Robertson and Dobson, younger evangelical figures like Austin-based author and speaker Jen Hatmaker have bashed Trump – without openly supporting Clinton.
“I could not be more sorry and furious that we now have a presidential candidate not only degrading women but normalizing sexual assault,” Hatmaker, 42, said in a Facebook post. “What a travesty. What a tragedy. What a national disgrace.”
Some Baptist students at the University of Texas at Arlington are also uneasy with Trump’s candidacy – even if they agree with him on many social issues.
Gary Stidham has worked as the director of the Baptist Student Ministry since 2003 at UT-Arlington, a campus he describes as “peaceful and non-politically charged.”
He notices the differences among students this year compared with previous elections.
“This year hasn’t done any favors for apathy or disengagement among college students,” Stidham said. “More students are interested in third-party candidates.”
Young Baptists at UT-Arlington are uneasy with the perceived corruption of both candidates. Many “have an affinity for whistleblowers” and WikiLeaks because the leaks lay bare the shadiness of the rich and powerful like Clinton and Trump, Stidham said.
“A subset of conservative evangelical students are disappointed that there isn’t a true pro-life candidate in the race,” Stidham said. “We meet a lot of students who like the idea mantra of Libertarians. A phrase I would hear a lot of people say is ‘I would support a pro-life Gary Johnson.’ ”
Stidham acknowledged many young Baptists are willing to move on from fighting against same-sex marriage even if they personally believe marriage should be between a man and a woman.
Trump “wants to go back” on the Supreme Court’s decision to legalize same-sex marriage, but he hasn’t emphasized the issue in his campaign.
Even among conservative students, Stidham said, there is a new respect for Obama in light of Trump’s and Clinton’s issues.
“I still see a number of Christians who disagree with the policies of Obama but respect Obama,” Stidham said. “Students seem to notice he’s had no financial or moral scandals in his political career, and they would say something like, ‘At least you have to respect that.’ ”
But the lack of trust in the Republican Party among some conservative students compared with their parents may have a spiritual rather than political rationale.
“They have a greater sense of a higher power,” Stidham said. “Jesus had a saying, ‘My kingdom is not of this world,’ a teaching that feels more real to them than it does their parents’ generation.”