When Rick Perry bowed out of the Republican race for President on Friday, he preached a little Scripture to Donald Trump before he left.
“Demeaning people of Hispanic heritage is not just ignorant; it betrays the example of Christ,” Perry said.
Asked about Perry’s parting shot, Trump — a longtime student of the art of insult — turned the other cheek.
He probably wanted to avoid a biblical brawl. Trump may not fit the classic profile of a Bible-belt favorite, but he is appealing to a significant number of the evangelical voters who can make a splash in GOP primaries.
A former Democrat who has in the past supported abortion rights and called himself a “liberal” on health care, the thrice-married Trump has been assailed as a poser by everyone from rivals Jeb Bush and Bobby Jindal to commentators George Will and Glenn Beck.
But he’s still the national front-runner in the GOP contest — thanks, in part, to church-going folk who want to back a viable winner as much as anyone else.
“In terms of his public statements, Mr. Trump has made himself minimally acceptable to faith-based voters,” said the University of Akron’s John Green.
When Trump, a Protestant, says he believes in God, or finds satisfaction in attending church, “these are kind of pro forma statements — the kind of statement that any candidate would make,” Green said.
Team Trump did not respond to a request for comment about the candidate’s religious observance and appeal to evangelicals.
But David Brody, chief political correspondent for the Christian Broadcasting Network and host of “The Brody File,” says evangelical voters aren’t looking at Trump as their future “pastor-in-chief.”
Instead, Brody said, “Evangelicals are sick and tired of being used as political pawns in the Republican leadership ‘Game of Thrones’ — and along comes Donald Trump, who, for better or for worse, [IS]coming across as honest and truth-telling. And evangelicals are loving every moment of it.”
Like Trump, Brody said, evangelicals are used to getting called out for being vocal about their beliefs. What’s more, “Evangelicals operate in this world of Biblical absolutes: right and wrong. Good and evil. This is the kinship between evangelicals and Donald Trump.”
Click here to read more.