Washington Confidential

Evangelical Leader Calls Trump’s Christian Backers Unchristian

Evan Gahr Investigative Journalist
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One of the country’s most influential Christian Right leaders says the support Donald Trump enjoys among evangelicals is limited to worshipers of false idols. 

Russell Moore, president of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, is disputing conventional wisdom that Trump is hugely popular with born again Christians, insisting those actually in his camp follow the “dangerous false teaching of the prosperity gospel.” 

“I don’t think polling methodologies do justice to evangelicals because they don’t distinguish between self identified [evangelicals] and [actual] church goers,” the Baptist Ethics and Public Policy Commission president said. “Among serious church going individuals I don’t see very much Trump support of all.” 

Moore says Trump’s evangelical supporters are  proponents of the pernicious “prosperity gospel” that says good health and financial success determines a person’s religious worth. “Most conservative evangelicals regard it as heretical. It preys upon vulnerable people and is contrary to the message of scripture.”

Prosperity gospel preachers pressure parishioners to make large donations to their churches, supposedly to gain God’s good graces. This March, prosperity gospel televangelist Crespo Dollar even asked his followers to donate $300 each so he could buy a $65 million gulf stream jet for his ministry.

In late September, Trump met for two and half hours with about three dozen pastors, most proponents of the prosperity gospel. They include televangelists Paula White, Jentezen Franklin, Steve Munsey and Clarence McClendon. Plus, Jews for Jesus Rabbi Kirt Schneider. At the end of the pow wow, they all prayed together.

 “I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better,” she said. “I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people.”

So what’s the rub?

Trump got 20% of self-identified white evangelicals surveyed for a widely circulated Washington Post-ABC News poll this July.  But the same month he received just 3.2 percent of  94 “evangelical leaders and insiders” who responded to a survey by World Magazine, the movement’s flagship publication.   

Moore, who declined to say if he would vote for Trump if he faced off against Hillary Clinton in the general election, sounded Clintonesque when asked if the GOP frontrunner is even a Christian.  “It depends on what somebody means by a Christian.”

“I can’t read Donald Trump’s heart but his words are much different than scripture.” 

The Mississippi native re-iterated to The Daily Caller his pointed arguments in a little noticed New York Times op-ed piece last month Trump’s three marriages, sexual boasting, immigrant bashing and even casino building contradicts the Christian faith.  “The language he has used about immigrants is really disturbing.  Most evangelicals realize now the immigrant is more likely to be a Christian in the next pew than a rapist or criminal. These people are created in the image of God.”    

Worse yet, Trump’s boast that he has done nothing that requires forgiveness is a “scary concept” for anyone.

Of course, the crucial Iowa caucus is traditionally dominated by conservative Christians. So if Moore’s contention that Trump’s support among evangelicals is limited to a small bunch of heretics it is the real estate magnate who should be scared.