To Woo Evangelicals, Trump Waves His Bible

And he tells them he will be “the greatest jobs president that God ever created.”

Jose Luis Magana/AP

Let our journalists help you make sense of the noise: Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily newsletter and get a recap of news that matters.

On Friday, Republican front-runner Donald Trump tried to woo evangelical voters at the Values Voter Summit, the annual gathering of social conservative voters hosted by the Family Research Council where Rick Santorum-style social conservatives are more common than New York City real estate moguls. But Trump is trying to preserve his top-of-the-polls standing, and that requires maintaining strong support among evangelicals. “Most importantly,” he said, holding up his copy of the holy book, “I brought my Bible.”

Trump made sure to cover issues important to many conservative evangelical voters. Religious freedom is one of their key talking points these days, and Trump observed, “freedom of religion, so important.” He emphasized his love of Christmas. “I love Christmas. I love Christmas,” he declared as the audience applauded, assuring them that he would bring back the phrase “Merry Christmas” if elected president. The crowd also cheered his promises to negotiate a better deal with Iran and be “the greatest jobs president that God ever created.”

Trump lost the audience, however, when he went after one of their favorites, presidential candidate Marco Rubio, who has recently climbed in the polls and who spoke to the group earlier in the day. “You have this clown, Marco Rubio,” Trump said, and the audience booed loudly. Trump persisted, chiding the Florida senator for abandoning his effort to promote comprehensive immigration reform once his poll number began to fall. “If you believe in something, you have to be true to yourself,” said Trump.

Polls show Trump leading among evangelical voters—a fact he brought up several times during his speech. But that support could be thin, especially given his personal history and his past stance in favor of abortion rights. Even though he said his favorite book is the Bible, Trump, a Presbyterian, has refused to name his favorite passage. “The Bible means a lot to me, but I don’t want to get into specifics,” he said last month. And, of course, he’s been married three times.

Trump turned down the initial invitation to the Values Voter Summit, and Tony Perkins, the head of the group hosting the event, responded with some tough words. He said Trump’s absence sent a “message to evangelicals and values voters that he wants their support, but he is not really interested in having a conversation with them.” But Friday Trump was all about praising evangelicals. “You’re special people,” he said. “And I love you all.”


Headshot of Editor in Chief of Mother Jones, Clara Jeffery

It sure feels that way to me, and here at Mother Jones, we’ve been thinking a lot about what journalism needs to do differently, and how we can have the biggest impact.

We kept coming back to one word: corruption. Democracy and the rule of law being undermined by those with wealth and power for their own gain. So we're launching an ambitious Mother Jones Corruption Project to do deep, time-intensive reporting on systemic corruption, and asking the MoJo community to help crowdfund it.

We aim to hire, build a team, and give them the time and space needed to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We want to dig into the forces and decisions that have allowed massive conflicts of interest, influence peddling, and win-at-all-costs politics to flourish.

It's unlike anything we've done, and we have seed funding to get started, but we're looking to raise $500,000 from readers by July when we'll be making key budgeting decisions—and the more resources we have by then, the deeper we can dig. If our plan sounds good to you, please help kickstart it with a tax-deductible donation today.

Thanks for reading—whether or not you can pitch in today, or ever, I'm glad you're with us.

Signed by Clara Jeffery

Clara Jeffery, Editor-in-Chief

payment methods

We Recommend