Too outspoken for some….
Bible in hand, Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump spoke to the conservative Values Voter Summit Friday, stressing his Christian upbringing and – in a way – his devotion to the faith.
“I believe in God,” he told the crowd gathered for the Washington, D.C. event. “I believe in the Bible. I’m Christian. I love people.”
The comments were the latest efforts by the billionaire businessman to woo evangelical voters, a key component to a Republican victory in 2016. But Russell Moore, president of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, said people of faith should not be fooled by Trump’s claims.
“Donald J. Trump stands astride the polls in the Republican presidential race, beating all comers in virtually every demographic of the primary electorate. Most illogical is his support from evangelicals and other social conservatives. To back Mr. Trump, these voters must repudiate everything they believe,” Moore wrote in a recent New York Times’ op-ed.
Moore said while “no religious test for office” Trump’s actions – multiple marriages, his perceived attitude about women, past statements on abortion and dismissals of religion- should serve as a warning for evangelical Christians.
Trump’s comments on immigration are another issue for Moore.
“… Mr. Trump incites division, with slurs against Hispanic immigrants and with protectionist jargon that preys on turning economic insecurity into ugly “us versus them” identity politics. When evangelicals should be leading the way on racial reconciliation, as the Bible tells us to, are we really ready to trade unity with our black and brown brothers and sisters for this angry politician?” he said.
Recent polls, however, show that’s exactly what many evangelical voters are doing.
A recent CNN poll showed 32 percent of white evangelical voters said they would vote for Trump, 4 percent higher than the number who said they would vote for Dr. Ben Carson, a conservative Christian candidate. A Washington Post-ABC News poll showed 54 percent of white evangelicals support Trump’s statements on immigration.
Tony Perkins, president of the conservative Christian organization Family Research Council, offered the Boston Globe this explanation of Trump’s success among evangelicals.
“Here’s a guy who is out there unfettered by the political correctness,” Perkins said. “He’s not afraid to say what he thinks. That’s attractive.”
Moore said that outspoken nature should not be enough to earn support from Christians.