Donald Trump riled up religious leaders during a private meeting in New York City on Thursday — going as far to say current American leadership is “selling Christianity down the tubes.”
In a series of clips posted by Christian radio broadcaster E.W. Jackson from the meeting, Trump pledged to make sure department store employees say “Merry Christmas,” cast doubt on presumptive Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton’s religion, and asked those in attendance to pray for his election to the White House.
“The thing about Hillary in terms of religion is that she’s been in the public eye for years and years, and yet there’s nothing out there,” he said. “There’s like nothing out there. It’s going to be an extension of Obama because with Obama you had your guard up. With Hillary you don’t.”
“People were saying pray for your leaders, and I agree with that … but what you really have to do is pray for everybody to get out to vote for one specific person,” he continued. “And again, we can’t be politically correct and say pray for all our leaders because all of your leaders are selling Christianity down the tubes, selling the Evangelicals down the tubes, and it’s a very very bad thing that’s happening.”
Trump later boasted of picking up “massive majorities” of the Evangelical vote.
“The Evangelical vote was mostly gotten by me,” the presumptive Republican nominee said. “I ended up getting massive majorities in the Evangelical vote, and then people were saying, ‘What’s going on?'”
Andrea Lafferty, president of the Traditional Values Coalition, was in attendance and told Business Insider that Trump’s message really hit home with her. She said she left the meeting feeling “even more positive” about her support from Trump.
She added that he addressed many areas of concern for her, such as issues related to national security, religious liberty, and appointing judges who are in-line with Evangelical thought, among other topics.
“It’s interesting because the train has left the station and some of the folks are still on the platform,” she said. “But the American people have spoken, and I think we’re seeing a real enthusiasm for Mr. Trump.”
One topic that was not discussed at the meeting, she said, was money. On Monday night, the Federal Election Commission released a dismal report on Trump’s May fundraising. In it, Trump’s measly $3 million in contributions and $1.3 million in cash on hand was laid out. It was dwarfed by Hillary Clinton’s more than $28 million raised in May in addition to more than $45 million in cash on hand.
But Lafferty said those in attendance “left with a good comfortable feeling that the campaign is on good footing.”
“Money will need to be spent, but meeting goals that were previously set aren’t necessarily important this cycle,” she said. “Because this is a different cycle.”
Lafferty also addressed the statement Trump made doubting Clinton’s religion. Clinton is a Methodist.
“There really wasn’t a lot of discussion of Hillary,” she said, adding that “he spoke a little bit and people asked questions. He responded to those questions.”
“At this point, the people in this room, the people are well aware of who and what Hillary Clinton is and all of that,” she continued. “This is really more about getting to know him and where he is on issues.”
But for Rev. Emily Scott, a pastor who protested outside the New York event with fellow faith leaders, the contrast in opinions was stark.
“My opinion is that you cannot support Trump and also support Jesus,” she said.
When asked about Trump doubting Clinton’s faith, Scott laughed.
“Yeah, that’s amazing,” she said. “I think that we know a lot about Donald Trump’s religion, and it has a lot to do with hatred and greed, which is contrary to biblical teachings.”
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