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Trump gets official and unofficial endorsements from 2 leading evangelicals

 

Revelations-Series-Banner-770x150(RNS) Liberty University President Jerry Falwell Jr., son of the late televangelist, endorsed Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump, a move that will likely dismay GOP rival Ted Cruz, a Southern Baptist who is banking on evangelical votes.

Liberty University's Jerry Falwell Jr. has overseen a massive expansion of the Lynchburg, Va. campus. Fueled by online enrollment the campus has multiple capital projects in the works. Photo by Ryan T. Stone/courtesy USA Today

Liberty University President Jerry Falwell Jr., son of the late televangelist, endorsed Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump. Photo by Ryan T. Stone/courtesy USA Today

“He is a successful executive and entrepreneur, a wonderful father and a man who I believe can lead our country to greatness again,” Falwell said in the statement released Tuesday (Jan. 26).

The news follows an unofficial Trump endorsement Saturday (Jan. 23) from an influential evangelical pastor from Cruz’s home state.

Robert Jeffress, who leads First Baptist Dallas, has been introducing Trump on the stump. As a pastor, Jeffress cannot officially endorse any candidate and maintain his church’s tax-exempt status. But he added:

“I want you to know I would not be here this morning if I were not absolutely convinced that Donald Trump would make a great president of the United States. … Most Americans know we are in a mess, and as they look at Donald Trump they believe he is the one leader who can reverse the downward death spiral of this nation we love so dearly.”

Dr. Robert Jeffress reads from the Bible. Photo by David Edmonson, courtesy of First Baptist Church, Dallas, TXDr.

Robert Jeffress reads from the Bible. Photo by David Edmonson, courtesy of First Baptist Church, Dallas, TXDr.

The endorsements come in time for the Iowa caucuses Monday (Feb. 1), the first major test of candidates with voters.

Trump called Falwell’s endorsement “powerful” and praised Falwell as “a high-quality person.”

Falwell gave Trump a particularly warm introduction last week at Liberty, which has hosted several presidential candidates, including Democrat Bernie Sanders, in past months. Cruz had kicked off his campaign at the Lynchburg, Va., campus.

The brash Trump, a Presbyterian not known for his spirituality, has been trying to burnish his religious credentials lately.

On Sunday (Jan. 24), he attended a Presbyterian service and heard a sermon about humility.

(Lauren Markoe is a national reporter for Religion News Service)

About the author

Lauren Markoe

Lauren Markoe has been a national reporter for RNS since 2011. Previously she covered government and politics as a daily reporter at the Charlotte Observer and The State (Columbia, S.C.)

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