A high-profile Southern Baptist pastor says evangelicals "by the droves" are flocking to support billionaire Donald Trump because polls indicate there's not much support nationally for a born-again Christian to be elected – and electability, says the pastor, should now take center stage.
Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions has passed on fellow Senator Ted Cruz and officially endorsed Trump. And while he has not officially endorsed Trump, Dr. Robert Jeffress, the pastor of First Baptist Church-Dallas – who garnered national attention when he participated in a Trump rally in late January – appeared at another Trump rally this past Friday.
Today on American Family Radio, Jeffress summarized his comments at that rally.
Jeffress: "I had been asked to come there and pray. I'm happy to pray. I prayed II Chronicles 7:14 to the crowd there, but then Trump invited me unexpectedly to come up and talk about some things. So I thought, Well, here's my opportunity to talk about the values that are important to evangelical voters – and I talked about the importance of the sanctity of life. I said very clearly: Now some people may not believe in Donald Trump's conversion to pro-life; but even if you don't believe it, let me remind you that Hillary Clinton doesn't even claim a pro-life conversion – and if she's elected, we'll have the most pro-abortion candidate in history."
'A pig in a poke'
Dr. Charles W. Dunn, a professor emeritus of government at Clemson University, says conservatives need to be discerning when it comes to Donald Trump's value system – and Pastor Robert Jeffress, he says, hasn't looked at Trump's "fruit," adding that neither has Alabama Senator Pete Sessions, who on Sunday endorsed Trump.
"They bought into a pig in a poke – and because of them and others buying into this pig in a poke, the hour is now late," Dunn tells OneNewsNow. "Whether Trump can be stopped from shanghaiing the Republican Party and conservatism is a big question."
Dunn says it is important for the anti-Trump forces to hold him to less than 35 percent of the vote on Super Tuesday, if there is any chance at all to stop him. He maintains that Trump would lose to Hillary Clinton if he gets the GOP nomination.
Jeffress further explained that appearance, as well as comments he made during a recent interview with National Public Radio.
Jeffress: "I was trying to explain why so many evangelicals are open to Donald Trump. I'm not saying I think that's the way it should be. I was quoting what I believe many evangelicals are thinking. I was not agreeing with that position. After the same-sex ruling last June, I think it was such a gut punch to many evangelicals that they pretty much gave up on the idea of depending upon government to uphold biblical values and they're saying, Okay, let's let the church do that and let's just depend upon government to do the other.
"Let me make it clear. I'm not saying that's what I think; I'm saying that is the explanation for why evangelicals by the droves are going to Donald Trump. So there's a real difference between the way things are versus the way things should be, in my estimation. And let me be clear: I think it is important to vote for a candidate who will uphold things that we believe in .... I think the gay marriage issue is gone. It's never going to be re-litigated. Even Ted Cruz said that behind closed doors in New York when he was talking to donors."
But what about Trump's well-documented use of vulgar language on the campaign trail – an issue pastor and author Max Lucado addressed in a recent guest column published by The Christian Post?
Jeffress: "Let me tell you, George Patton couldn't care less about tone and language; he was intent on wining a war – and I think we are in a war right now. We need to win the war and I think we need a president who is intent on doing that who can get elected.
"Look, I would love to have a born-again Christian who has humbled himself before God and whose faith is part of every area of his life – if he could get elected. I'm saying I don't think that candidate can get elected today."
In Jeffress' opinion, Trump is the most electable of the Republican candidates.
Jeffress: "William F. Buckley said, We need to nominate the most conservative candidate who's electable – and I think that's why there's a case for Donald Trump. [Many evangelicals] may not agree with me – that's fine. Everybody needs to make their own mind up about this. But nobody has the right to be a Pharisee and try to impose their opinion as an obligation on other people. I think we need to respect the right of other Christians to disagree."
Jeffress went on to say: "The Bible gives absolutely no checklist for how to vote, because voting was not present in biblical times."