Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks at a campaign rally in Phoenix on June 18, 2016. Photo courtesy of Reuters/Nancy Wiechec

Trump to top evangelicals: ‘I'm on your side’

NEW YORK (RNS) Donald Trump began his crucial meeting with nearly 1,000 Christian conservatives on Tuesday (June 21) by telling them that he is a “tremendous believer” and that rather than praying for all the nation’s leaders they should “pray to get everybody out to vote for one specific person.”

The presumptive Republican presidential nominee made it clear that that person should be him, as he also blasted Hillary Clinton, his likely Democratic opponent, as worse than President Barack Obama.

A Clinton presidency, he said, “is gonna be an extension of Obama, but it’s gonna be worse, because with Obama you had your guard up. With Hillary, you don’t. And it’s gonna be worse.”

“And we can’t be, again, politically correct and say we pray for all of our leaders, because all of your leaders are selling Christianity down the tubes, selling the evangelicals down the tubes. And it’s a very, very bad thing that’s happening,” Trump said, according to video clips posted on social media by Bishop E.W. Jackson.


TRANSCRIPT: Trump's meeting with evangelicals


Jackson is founder and president of STAND (Staying True To America's National Destiny) and head pastor at Virginia-based Exodus Faith Ministries. He said in a conference call after the meeting that Trump had acknowledged Christians need to pray for all their leaders, and he interpreted the candidate's comments to mean they "have some specific prayers that they need to be praying right now."

Trump often has tried to invoke Scripture, which he did again Tuesday by highlighting the injunction from 1 Timothy that Christians should pray for "all those in authority."

But by then interpreting the verse as a "get out the vote" mandate for one candidate, he may also land in hot water, as he has previously done when referring to Bible passages.

Still, the crowd could be a forgiving one.

“I’m so on your side, I’m a tremendous believer, and we’re gonna straighten it out,” Trump said in another clip posted by Jackson.

"You know, oftentimes in some of my rallies … and I say – in a joking fashion, but, boy, do I mean it – we’re going to be saying ‘Merry Christmas’ again. I mean, you go to Macy’s, you go to these department stores today, you don’t see any Christmas signs."

That line drew applause and seemed to signal an auspicious start to what is a critical stretch for Trump: In recent days he fired his longtime campaign manager, financial disclosures showed his campaign coffers are nearly empty and his poll numbers are flagging worse than expected following a series of controversial remarks.

Perhaps most worrying for Trump and the GOP are surveys showing that his support among white evangelical Christians – the key to Republican electoral success in November – is not nearly as strong as it needs to be for him to win.

At the meeting at a Marriott hotel in Times Square – an unusual venue for such a gathering of largely Bible Belt pastors – Trump appeared to realize what was at stake as he repeatedly stressed his own faith bona fides.

“Christianity – I owe so much to it in so many ways. Through life, through having incredible children, through so many other things,” he said, according to another video from Jackson’s Twitter feed.

“But I also owe it for, frankly, standing here because the evangelical vote was mostly gotten by me. If you remember, it went to South Carolina, and I was going to be beat – very heavy evangelical state - and I was going to be beaten by (Ted) Cruz or somebody because he had a very strong evangelical vote, and I ended up getting massive majorities on the evangelical vote.”

“And everybody said, 'What's going on? This is – how did Trump do that?' And then I won elsewhere, and, you know, I won the whole South.”

Trump was also hailed by a longtime supporter and one of the conveners of the summit, the Rev. Jerry Falwell Jr., president of Liberty University in Virginia.

"Mr. Trump is a bold and fearless leader who will take the fight to our enemies and to the radical Islamic terrorists, whether they attack in San Bernardino, Orlando or Paris," Falwell, scion of a late leader of the religious right, said to applause.

"Or whether they simply steal American jobs through unfair trade practices," he continued. "The day after Ronald Reagan became president, Iran released American hostages that had been held for 444 days. In my opinion, the day after Trump becomes president, every terrorist in the world will crawl under a rock in a similar fashion."

Falwell -- as well as Ben Carson and Mike Huckabee, both of whom had run against Trump for the Republican party's nomination -- had made a point of saying he believed "Donald Trump may not be a born-again, spirit-filled, charismatic, hand-waving believer like some of us are, but he is nevertheless a Christian," Jackson said after the meeting.

"I've had my doubts, and I probably still do," he said, "but hearing these men who I really respect testify to the fact that they believe that Donald Trump really is a Christian, but maybe just not of the same kind you and I are" made an impression. It was the No. 1 thing he walked away with from the meeting, he said.

The meeting changed his attitude, the bishop said, and he didn't think he was the only one who left feeling hopeful about Trump as a candidate.

"What I'm hoping will come out is that the evangelical community will unify around Donald Trump because we just don't have any choice. ... Coming out of this meeting, I think there are going to be a lot of people saying, 'You know what? I'm not only against Hillary, I'm really for Donald Trump. I feel like I have reasons to be for him,'" he said.

Comments

  1. Pray for people to vote for him? Don’t pray for our leaders? I may not be an Obama fan but mylanta, I do as the Lord has asked and pray for him and all of our leaders every day. How can a “believer” ask us not to pray? I’m very upset that he thinks Christians are this gullible.

  2. Maybe because he knows an easy mark when he sees one.

  3. I’m less upset by the fact that he thinks Christians are this gullible than by the fact that he’s right.

    Way too many of us are.

  4. Trumpelstiltskin has been bankrupt four times, yet still remains a billionaire. In the Christian book, Jesus says something about rich people entering the kingdom of heaven, and something else about “give away all that you have and follow me.” 2Rump says “give Jesus what you have and follow me.” He’s a tremendous believer, as he says. Just not in that.

    In MY book, declaring bankruptcy four times while remaining a billionaire has another word entirely to apply: THEFT. How many of his creditors, business partners, and fellow businessman lost money and capital, while 2Rump remained a billionaire?

    2Rump the “tremendous believer”, famously quoting Two Corinthians, has been married three times, and openly admitted to adultery. He is living in unrepentant sin. But for bible-believing Christians, there must be a limit to what they truly believe. Unrepentant sin is really OK, because power trumps politics trumps principle, every single time. 2Rump is a tremendous believer– in 2Rump, and the gullibility of a certain class of so called Christian.

    2Rump does indeed owe Christianity a great deal.

  5. To be fair, most American Christians don’t really believe what Jesus says in the Bible when it comes to money and wealth.

  6. Or divorce, or judging others, or loving their neighbor, or motes and beams, or treating others as they would like to be treated.

  7. Or God’s design for marriage, these days.

  8. As a former evangelical Christian who comes from a family of Bible believing born again Christians I can say with all confidence that Trump is full of it. He never read the Bible, he never practiced the teachings of Christ (humility?). He’s a con man, nothing more.

  9. What gets billed as “God’s design for marriage” is itself far removed from how marriage worked in Biblical times. Most marriages were arranged. Polygamy was common. Women had few rights. Men could take concubines as well as wives. Our modern traditions of marriage by romantic arrangement of the couple never existed for ordinary people before the European colonization of the “New World,” when “traditional” pre-arranged marriage customs started to break down.

  10. So we want to believe so badly that we blind ourselves to who Donald Trump is and always has been? Smear him with a little Jesus ointment to salve our conscience before we vote for this horrible picture of human depravity? No one is without sin (me especially) but very few brag about their sin the way Trump does – he’s especially proud of his sexual conquests of married women. Read all about it – he wrote it himself.

  11. Yes of course he is. Adultery , divorce, bad debts are so biblical.

  12. Can’t live with them, can’t get elected without them. Social conservatives and hallelujah hypocrites are the “cockroaches” of American politics. They will outlive the GOP and nuclear warfare.

  13. “He is a con man, nothing more.” That’s exactly what qualifies him to pair up with Evangelical Christians. Con artistry is at the heart of their religion.

  14. Wrong again, Errol Flynn. Obergefell vs. Hodges put that little issue to rest a year ago. Pretending otherwise does not make it so. And since the Bible was written long before the legalization of LGBT relationships, it needs another update and reality check. I say “another,” because holy rollers only took a half century to get onboard with racial equality, so they will figure out and update “God’s will” concerning LGBT in about as long a time. That’s why hallelujah hypocrites all ride the short Sunday School bus.

  15. Doesn’t that mean that most Americans who don’t really believe what Jesus says in the bible about money mean that they are NOT christians? I may not be terribly expert in christian lore, but I don’t think it means being able to cherry-pick what you want to believe or not believe.

  16. This is the man who insulted women to their face and on National Platforms. He is the man who promised the Gay Community he was there friend, but then on a National Platform says he will revoke their rights at a National Level. He feels all Muslims more than a billion of them are terrorists? He held money he raised for charity until called out by the Press. He offered a mass of supporters full legal fees to punch the hell out of the guy who interrupted him. He wants to do more than the 13,000 current bombings Obama has done, by increasing the area and mass bombings which would kill innocent women and children. He labels Mexicans as Rapists and Murders, judge not least ye be judged. Love one another as I have loved you, somehow doesn’t play well with Punch the hell out of him, I’ll pay your legal fees. He wants to get tough on immigration, but won’t that affect the women he would be able to marry? He is on this third! There is a committed man for you. He screams about Mexico and China, but he himself has his good produced in China and Mexico. He has filed bankruptcy with no idea of how many families were affected by the millions of dollars that businesses were never paid. He truly has sued his way to success and now that he is being sued and the judge is not taking his side, he’s labeling the judge bias. If you think a man who can lie, use woman like possession and insult them, back out of millions of dollars of debt; then literally in New Jersey destroy families and businesses that have been in their family for generations a great guy you are not a real christian. This man advocates bombing without regard for the innocent lives that could be loss, beating people up because he has enough money to pay for good lawyers. This man whose view of the world is so small that literally suggested we give Japan and South Korea Nuclear weapons so we won’t have to help them if they are ever attacked.

    If you’re considering this man for POTUS, then it’s simply because there is some prejudice he has touched on that appealed to you. Trump can’t take away gay marriage, the Supreme Court passed the law, not the White House, and he has absolutely no authority to over ride the highest court in the land. He is facing fraud charges, and right now his last get rich scheme backfired and is in court with people demanding their money back. You want corruption or a dictator that can’t get things done, he’s your man.

  17. I’ve known Christians – my mother included – who did their best to walk Christ’s path of love, compassion, and charity. Trump is no Christian. He’s a liar and plays to people, preying on their weaknesses.

    Isn’t there something in the Bible about how Satan takes many forms? This time around Satan looks like an orange orangutan with birds nest hair.

  18. I would never call a Christian “not a real Christian” myself. I leave that to Christians.

  19. I would like to know who paid for these guys to get to NYC and put them up. Was it their churches? Was that from their “tax deductible” contributions. Is that even legal? Was it Trump?

  20. Did Roe v. Wade put the abortion debate to rest? Hmm?
    So don’t look for Obergefell to put the gay marriage debate to rest.

    P.S……Thanks for indirectly acknowledging that you cannot use any examples of biblical polygamy to justify America’s homosexual-marriage mess.

  21. I know multiple evangelicals myself included that are not voting for Trump. Advisory board must Trump or Trump or Trump. No one is going to advise him.

  22. Sure there is. The christian “god” says so. Here’s what noted christian wacko Franky-Boy Graham said in November of 2015:

    “Does God hear prayers? Does God answer prayers? The answer is yes—absolutely! He does not necessarily answer prayer according to our desires or wishes, though. That’s why it is important for us to pray for His will
    to be done.”

    What’s weird is that El Franko said, during that summer, that he was going to pray his christian brains out for the christian god to turn the Supreme Court against gay marriage. Franky told all of his nasty christian followers to do the same thing. I’ve no doubt those hateful lunatics prayed their evil little brains out. The christian god said “get out of my sight you loathsome goons.”

    So: christian god has approved gay marriage. Evil christian thugs who continue to oppose it risk lighting bolt enemas.

  23. “Thanks for indirectly acknowledging that you cannot use any examples of biblical polygamy to justify America’s homosexual-marriage mess.”

    1. There is no “homosexual-marriage mess.” There is equal marriage as the law of the land and there are bigots who refuse to obey the law. The issue is that simple.

    2. No one needs to justify equal marriage by examples from the Bible or any other ancient writing not directly tied to the U.S. Constitution or to basic human rights.

    3. The Bible is a poor source for authority for anything. The notion of “Natural Law” does not require an appeal to the Bible, the Koran, the Book of Mormon or Aesop’s Fables for that matter. Equal Marriage exists as natural law, now that we humans know that LGBT are part of the natural world and therefore have rights in nature as part of it.

    4. Roe v. Wade has been settled law for over 40 years. Chances are pretty good it will outlast you or me as settled law.

    5. You really should just debate yourself. For the rest of us, the debate is over. Your side not only lost, you just show yourselves to be continuously sore losers.

  24. He reminds me of those old game shows, “To Tell the Truth” and “Truth or Consequences”.

    Someone should set up an online game (maybe call it “My Fellow Americans”), with line after line of all the lines each presidential candidate has said, and with each line linked to a “fact checker” site, and then we can pick a candidate and click either “Truth” (ding!) or “Lie” (buzz!) for each line — and whoever gets the most right for that candidate gets to choose from an ever-growing wish-list of “consequences” submitted by the players. With variations such as “Who Said What?”, expansions to include candidates for other federal, state, and local offices, voting (no ID required) for “Best Bulls__t of the Day”, fantasy betting on “Who’ll Fib Most Tomorrow?”,…

    Well, there you have it. That’s my “political contribution” for the day.

  25. “…now that we humans know that LGBT are part of the natural world and therefore have rights in nature as part of it.” — Nice!

    “[N]ow that we humans know” is the key to equality under law and society.
    And ignorance, willful or not, is the lock.

  26. What can you say about a group of holy “Christians” who are not defined by their love of Christ, but by their hatred of Clinton and all things perceived to be “liberal”? What can you say about this group, which is throwing its support behind, the most “un-Christian” candidate, hands down, to have ever risen in the Republican party?

  27. If they think that are no Christmas signs in Macy’s — MACY’S –, then they’re dumber than I thought.
    BTW, Falwell apparently thinks that nations engaging in unfair trade practices are the equivalent of a wartime enemy. Are we in the 19th century? God help us if they get anywhere near the Oval Office.

  28. Where are you getting your disinformation from? Trump is NOT getting the gay vote or the support of people who have LGBT friends and family.

  29. Growing up around all the in-your-face Hallelujah hypocrites more than amply qualifies me and everyone else thoroughly annoyed by their puffed up self-righteousness. As for Trump and the gay community, name a single major LGBT group or activist in his camp.

  30. You are the one stalking my comments with your pathetic efforts to be relevant.

  31. Nope. You have it wrong. Social conservatives and Hallelujah hypocrites are joined at the hip.

  32. You are absolutely right about him MBern. He is a despicable person and there is no excuse for a decent American to vote for him.

    This campaign is a get rich quick scheme. He’s already paid his entities millions of dollars for “campaign related” crap. He’s paid his airline, resorts, etc. That’s where campaign contributions go, in his pocket. Big donors don’t want to write checks because they know their money will pay off trump’s loans to himself. In other words, right back into his pockets, with interest.

    Shame, shame, shame.

  33. arguing with him and his made pu facts is like arguing with a hole in the wall, except that the hole is not as empty.

  34. There is Chriss Barron. And polls show about 18% of gay people support trump– and I’m sure most of them are republicans first, Americans second.

  35. ok, then “most Americans who self-identify as Christian.”

  36. If my choice is narrowed down to Killary, the murderer, or Trump with his business bankruptcies, then, yeah, you better believe that his business bankruptcies don’t bother me nearly as much as the trail of dead bodies behind Killary and her sick penchant for aborting babies!

  37. “…hearing these men who I really respect testify to the fact that they
    believe that Donald Trump really is a Christian, but maybe just not of
    the same kind you and I are.”

    You will know them by their fruits. (Matthew 7:16)

  38. Log Cabin Republicans and GOProud are sort of between a rock and a hard place politically speaking. What little Reagan ever did for the LGBT community, either as a candidate or as President, was because of them. If Trump makes it to the White House, I hope those to gay GOP groups can help diffuse all the hallelujah hypocrite hype, but it’s doubtful.

  39. Hillary Clinton is a good, honorable woman, and for you to insult her as you do shows your utter lack of character.

  40. Unfortunately, I don’t believe Trump; he is a “cultural Christian”–he knows just enough of the Christian faith that he can spew back what he may remember from Sunday School, where he apparently went for a few years. But I doubt very much whether he really practices the Christian faith in his daily life. Too much of what he says and does is not reflective of someone who has spent time actually reading studying the faith, and especially praying; it does not animate his life like it should if he was a Christian in practice.

    I have watched Hillary over nearly 40 years (we are the same age), and I truly believe her that she is a Methodist, and shows the results in her life. We have seen her responses to adversity and stress, and I believe that she actually reacts like a “activist Methodist” (ie, social gospel) of her time. But she has been private in her talk about religion. She does have a deep concern for the poor, especially poor women and children, who are the last considered in many parts of the world. She consistently sought to better the reality for these people in her SecState travels.

    Pr Chris

  41. Don’t forget his [email protected] – wonder how all those evangelicals overlook that part of his ‘failing to live a christian’ live?

  42. Wishing & repeating an unsubstantiated opinion does not magically convert it to factual, tinkerbell.

  43. Rusty — You have a great sense of humor!! OR ELSE — you know very little OR nothing about Killary.

  44. Trump vs Hillary is the NOT THE ONLY option. A third party candidate will guarantee a Hillary victory. IF you believe that Hillary is the best option then welcome her now as president. AND prepare to explain your choice to your children and grandchildren.

  45. You have that unsubstantiated opinion [strong support] but have yet to provide any credible verifiable evidence to support.

    You seem to be unaware that ‘gays’ just as ‘christians” and “left handed people” and “women” and ‘school teachers” and “tall people” and “physicians” and “used car salesmen” and on & on DO NOT VOTE AS A SOLID BLOCK!

    There is no “what next” when there is “nothing now. “

  46. We shall see in November. Until then you still have just that so very silly unsubstantiated opinion and absolutely nothing to back it up.

  47. ……evangelicals who suuport Trump are like Adam biting the apple……….

  48. ……you don’t have to see it as legitimate BUT…it is legal…….so stfu………

  49. CErmie, the taste of soap should remain entirely in your own mouth here.

  50. CErmle, the lack of ability is your own.

  51. No, Cermle. As usual, your post is simply false.

  52. America would be better off with better and non-Christian candidates from both parties.

  53. CErmle, the lack of reasoning ability here is your own. Furthermore, the Trump campaign is clearly in steep decline. So much for your claimed “Trump regime”, not that I like H. Clinton much.

  54. CErmle, re “hissy fits”, well, the pot is calling the kettle black there. Reading the comments above, “hissy fit” far better describes the bulk of your own posts.

  55. ……not suggesting LGTB folks are bovine droppings….was commenting on the “Gay and evangelical vote together lock it up for a Trump victory.” comment….was a sanitized way of saying BS……….

  56. Cherry-picking is at the heart of each and every Christian denomination that exists. Folks just hone in on the part they like best (i.e., “Let my ayes be ayes, and my nays be nays); gather a few like-minded people to agree and you have a sect; and get enough like-minded people to join you, and voila! You have a denomination. (I.e., Seventh Day Adventists). Just saying…..

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