Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Will Trump Hold Evangelical Appeal?


Trump with his Bible at Council Bluffs, Iowa
I'll be interested to see how Donald Trump's appeal to evangelicals continues following his rally in Council Bluffs, Iowa on Tuesday night.

Trump began the rally waving his Bible and noting that he is a Protestant and a Presbyterian in particular. It appeared to be obvious pandering to evangelical Christians, a strong voting bloc in Iowa, which starts the voting when it holds its caucuses on February 1.

Trump noted that his mother gave him the Bible and had written "This is Donald Trump's Bible" inside.

What evangelicals will notice that others may not is that the Bible was in pristine condition. It hasn't seen a lot of wear and tear. He hasn't spent hundreds of hours studying it.

My first Bible.
That doesn't mean Trump hasn't studied another Bible, saving that one because it was a gift from this mother. But when I see it I think of the Bible my grandmother gave me when I was 14. It, too, was inscribed. And it sat in pristine condition for five years.

When I truly gave my life to Christ, that was the only Bible I owned, so it was the one I initially studied. I still have it, but now its edges are frayed and its binding is duct taped.

Hugh Ross' tattered first Bible. (Greg Richter)
I've also seen Reasons to Believe founder Hugh Ross hold up his first Bible. It's tattered.

Still, a pristine first Bible isn't enough to make evangelicals see trump as a phony.

But not long afterward, Trump noted that one of his rivals for the Republican nomination, former New York Gov. George Pataki, had just dropped out of the race.

"Somebody else dropped out, but there's not much to split up because he was at zero," Trump said, not even mentioning Pataki's name and bascically kicking him while he was down.

Meanwhile, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, whose Cuban-born father is an evangelical pastor, offered words of praise for Pataki.

"I’m grateful for Governor George Pataki’s many years of dedication to our nation and to the state of New York — particularly while serving as Governor on September 11th," Cruz wrote on his Facebook page. "He brought experience and knowledge to the race for the Republican nomination, and as a result, helped prepare our eventual nominee to win in November and take back the White House."

Cruz's response is more likely to resonate with evangelical Christians, who may not support someone like Pataki for president, but who also don't believe in being unnecessarily mean to him.

As for Cruz, Trump closed out his rally repeating an old line in which he questions Cruz's own evangelicalism.

"Just remember this – you gotta remember, in all fairness, to the best of my knowledge, not too many evangelicals come out of Cuba, OK?" he said. "Just remember that. Just remember."

Trump again held up his pristine Bible as he closed things out.