Dec 27, 2019

Trump's moves to shore up his evangelical base

Photo: Nicholas Kamm/AFP via Getty Images

President Trump is working to strengthen his following among evangelical voters after Christianity Today, a magazine founded by the late Rev. Billy Graham, published an editorial earlier this month calling for his removal in the wake of his impeachment.

Why it matters: About 81% of evangelical Christians — a group that makes up 25% of the electorate — voted for Trump in 2016, according to Pew Research Center.

What he's doing:

  • On Christmas Eve, the president and First Lady Melania Trump opted to go to a conservative Baptist-affiliated church in West Palm Beach instead of the liberal Episcopalian church in which they were married and often attend holiday services, USA Today reports.
  • Trump's 2020 campaign announced last week that the president will be on hand to launch the "Evangelicals for Trump" coalition at a Jan. 3, 2020 event in Miami.

The backdrop: Christianity Today called Trump "grossly immoral" in its editorial calling for his removal.

  • Trump quickly responded on Twitter, claiming, "No president has done more for the evangelical community."
  • A group of nearly 200 conservative evangelical leaders sent a letter last weekend rebuking the editorial.
  • The op-ed sent shockwaves throughout the Christian journalism community, as the Christian Post's plan to publish a pro-Trump editorial in response caused one of the publication's top editors to resign.

Go deeper: How Trump wins 2020

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Trump touts record at megachurch event to boost evangelical following

President Trump stands in a prayer circle with faith leaders during a Evangelicals for Trump campaign event in Miami. Photo: Jim Watson/AFP/Getty Images

President Trump received an ovation from a crowd at a predominantly Hispanic megachurch where he touted his immigration policies and southern border wall during the launch of a new coalition, "Evangelicals for Trump," on Friday in Miami, the Washington Post reports.

Why it matters: "Trump’s decision to launch the new group at one of the largest Latino evangelical churches in the nation was 'without a doubt' a reaction to" an op-ed Christianity Today released calling for the president's impeachment, the Post writes. Trump is counting on a strong evangelical vote in 2020, and his re-election campaign expects Evangelicals for Trump to expand before then.

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Why it matters: Trump has recently taken steps to shore up his evangelical base after an editorial in Christianity Today, a magazine founded by the late Rev. Billy Graham, attacked his "gross immorality and ethical incompetence."

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