The Atlantic magazine released its latest hit piece on President Trump prior to the November elections, this time focusing the president’s alleged private “contempt” for his Christian followers.
The article builds its case around the secret audio of then-candidate Trump during a meeting with faith leaders at the Trump Towers in New York City in September 2016. The meeting, by all accounts, started with some tension but by the end, these faith leaders were “eating out of his hand,” the report said.
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The report said the group seemed to agree with his opposition to trans women using women’s restrooms, so they looked past his admission that he didn’t know the Bible as well as others.
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The report quoted Pastor Robert Jeffress, the leader of First Baptist Church in Dallas, who summed up the meeting, “I’m not voting for Trump to be the teacher of my third grader’s Sunday-school class. That’s not what he’s running for.”
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The magazine also quoted Michael Cohen, trump’s former fixer, who said Trump calls pastors “hustlers.”
Jeffress was interviewed on the “Todd Starnes Show” on Tuesday and said that he thought the magazine’s article, although not sufficiently nuanced, was “quite accurate.”
Jeffress said he moderated the meeting in Trump Tower and said the group of religious leaders included those with varying opinions of the candidate. He said some who were undecided and others who were “never-Trumpers.”
He said the report was accurate because he sensed that some of the religious leaders were apprehensive about Trump at the beginning of the meeting but were “eating out of his hands” by the end.
“Look, the reason why Evangelicals are supporting President Trump is not because of the illusion that he’s leading Bible studies every day in the Oval Office. It’s because of his policies, not his personal piety.”
Jeffress said if you read the Atlantic article very carefully, it becomes clearer that Trump seems to be mocking “prosperity preachers.”
“And, frankly, there’s some things there to mock,” he said. “I don’t think that he’s beyond making fun of all of us– he has a great sense of humor– but he’s particularly intrigued by prosperity preachers. He calls it a sham and a racket, and in a lot of cases it is.”
Starnes said he doesn’t know the author of the Atlantic article but agreed that he failed to make the key distinction. The omission may or may not have been intentional.
“I’m not saying that in a negative way he just may not know, or maybe he thinks all the preachers are the same and that is certainly not the case,” Starnes said.
Jeffress said trump is a secular real estate tycoon and he doesn’t pretend to be pious. He said trump is not trying to portray himself as something that he’s not and Jeffress said he believes people find that honesty refreshing.