Michael Brendan Dougherty of National Review Online ponders recent reports that President Trump makes fun of selected church leaders.

Know who else makes fun of people such as Creflo Dollar and Benny Hinn, and who thinks they are full-of-it hustlers and con men? Many conservative religious Trump voters. In fact, many of them would prefer Trump was chummier with an entirely different set of Evangelicals. It’s too early to know whether the religious right’s bargain with Trump is “Faustian.” What we do know is that it is a political bargain.

For a politician, taking an interest group “seriously” as an ally is not in conflict with personally holding them in disdain, or ridiculing them. Black voters didn’t hold it against the Democratic Party which passed the Civil Rights Act that Lyndon Baines Johnson was a racist and an enthusiastic connoisseur of regional variations on the “n-word.”

Disdain can matter in politics. When a political opponent reveals their disdain, it can make the policies they advocate seem like an intentional act of malice rather than the unintended consequence of an ideal. Those who felt accused by Barack Obama of “clinging to guns and religion” or of being a “deplorable” by Hillary Clinton may cease thinking that their political opponent is well-meaning but ignorant and conclude that cruelty is the point.

But wearing the disdain of your political allies can almost be a compliment. It confirms the strength and importance of your role in the coalition. … It’s true that white evangelicals are almost twice as likely to say that the president is “somewhat” religious. But it’s not clear what to take from this. … Only 12 percent of white evangelicals say Trump is very religious — less than the 14 percent who say he’s “not at all” religious. It’s possible they only mean to express that Trump is “somewhat” with them; that is, he’s with them politically.