(Liberty Bell) – On Friday, President Donald Trump addressed a group of enthusiastic evangelical supporters who gathered for the Evangelicals for Trump rally in Miami, Florida.
Trump addressed over 5,000 Christians, including many Latino supporters, at a local megachurch just days after the controversial Christianity Today op-ed that called for his removal from office seemed to galvanize his enthusiastic Christian base.
“We’re defending religion itself. A society without religion cannot prosper. A nation without faith can not endure,” said Trump, who also slammed the 2020 Democrats’ poor stance on religious freedom. “We can’t let one of our radical left friends come in here because everything we’ve done will be gone in short order.”
“The day I was sworn in, the federal government war’s on religion came to an abrupt end,” Trump declared, later adding: “We can smile because we’re winning by so much.”
Trump also pointed to his many accomplishments in areas that matter most to evangelicals, from his support for Israel, installation of federal judges, prison reform, and also added a push to put prayer in public school.
These are issues that his campaign believes will invigorate the already enthusiastic faith vote to help push Trump to victory in key states like Michigan, Florida, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, and Georgia.
The El Rey Jesús church kickoff of “Evangelicals for Trump” will be followed in the weeks ahead by the launches of “Catholics for Trump” and “Jewish Voices for Trump.” It also comes days after Trump and his wife went to an evangelical Christmas Eve service in West Palm Beach rather than the liberal Episcopalian church in which they were married and often attend holiday services.
Advisers believe that emphasizing religious issues may also provide inroads with Latino voters, who have largely steered clear of supporting the president over issues like immigration. Deep into his speech, Trump touched on the issue by praising his border wall. His aides believe even a slight uptick with faith-focused Latinos could help Trump carry Florida again and provide some needed breathing room in states like Texas.
During the event, Trump made no mention of the scathing op-ed, which had declared that Trump should be removed from office on the basis of the false claims made by Democrats on which they’ve based their impeachment case.
“I think his record in the past three years is rock-solid in things that the faith community cares about him,” said Jentezen Franklin a megachurch pastor in Georgia. “We used to see politicians once every four years, but this one is totally different in constantly reaching out to the faith community, and we even get a chance to tell him when we disagree.”
The event comes just day after a new poll revealed that white evangelical Protestants stand noticeably apart from other religious people on how the government should act on two of the most politically divisive issues at play in the 2020 presidential election.
Asked about significant restrictions on abortion — making it illegal except in cases of rape, incest or to threats to a mother’s life — 37% of all Americans responded in support, according to the poll conducted by The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research. Those abortion limits drew 39% support from white mainline Protestants, 33% support from nonwhite Protestants and 45% support from Catholics, but 67% support from white evangelical Protestants.
A similar divide emerged over whether the government should bar discrimination against people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender in workplaces, housing or schools. About 6 in 10 Catholics, white mainline Protestants and nonwhite Protestants supported those protections, compared with about a third of white evangelical Protestants.
White evangelicals were also more likely than members of other faiths to say religion should have at least some influence on policy-making.
But Democrats have shown strong interest in connecting with voters of faith, even evangelicals whom Trump is often assumed to have locked down. And some religious leaders believe people of faith may be turned off by Trump’s personal conduct or record.
“Friday’s rally is Trump’s desperate response to the realization that he is losing his primary voting bloc — faith voters. He knows he needs every last vote if he wants a shot at reelection, as losing just 5% of the faith voters ends his chances,” said the Rev. Doug Pagitt, the executive director of Vote Common Good.