Donald Trump spoke out in favor of Christian values on Friday afternoon in the nation’s capital.
Trump, the presumptive Republican nominee for president, showed up at a gathering of Christian conservatives gathered by longtime operative Ralph Reed. He briefly checked off issues he knew mattered to his audience and got a vocal ovation.
He may not have been the first choice during the Republican primary of many in the Faith and Freedom conference crowd, but the thought of Hillary Clinton as president made Trump supporters out of the Christian confab’s attendees.
And Trump knew it. He made promises to the crowd about appointing conservative Supreme Court justices, pledged to “restore faith to its proper mantle in society” and said he would “respect and defend Christian Americans.”
But Trump spent as much time telling the crowd why they should fear the election of Clinton, the presumptive Democratic nominee, to the presidency.
Clinton, he said, would “appoint radical judges, … abolish the Second Amendment and the rule of law, … restrict religious freedom, … undermine the wages of working people with uncontrolled immigration.” And the list went on.
Reed, 54, who was a phenom of the Christian right during its heyday in the 1990s but was implicated in the Jack Abramoff scandal a decade ago, did what he could to make the room receptive to Trump.
Reed spoke for nearly 30 minutes and took on some of the arguments that are being made by other evangelicals for why Christians should oppose Trump.
Many anti-Trump evangelicals intend to vote this fall but skip the presidential race. Reed portrayed those evangelicals as people “who counsel timidity and retreat, and … recommend that people of faith retreat to the cold comfort of the stained-glass ghetto.”
“That is not an option to followers of Christ,” he said.
Echoing Liberty University President Jerry Falwell Jr., who during the primary said Christians are not voting for a “pastor in chief,” Reed said, “We’re not looking for a political messiah because we already have a messiah.”
Many evangelicals are turned off by Trump’s penchant for vulgarity, his three marriages, his misogynistic language, his consistent pattern of lying about matters of public record and his ownership of casinos, among other things.
But Reed said voters should accept Trump’s flaws.
“There has only been one perfect person who walked on this earth,” Reed said. “His name was Jesus Christ.”
And Reed also accused anti-Trump evangelicals of the sin of pride, as well as being inflexible.
“We’re called to put aside a my-way-or-the-highway pride,” he said. “Beware the temptation of pride … to simply declare a pox on both houses and thereby remove yourself from the struggle between right and wrong.”