Donald Trump's appeal to conservative evangelicals is playing well in the polls, but in reality, he's not lived the traditional life of a religious person, says an opinion piece in Tuesday's USA Today.
"Trump is a lot of things, but stupid isn't one of them," writes Kirsten Powers, a USA Today writer and author of the new book, "The Silencing: How the Left is Killing Free Speech."
"He clearly determined that the only way to win the Republican nomination was through an appeal to the conservative evangelical vote."
And his appeal to evangelicals is working despite his divorces and remarriages, his support for abortion rights in the past, and other opinions not usually associated with traditional evangelical favorites.
According to a Fox News poll
in August, Trump came out as the far-and-away favorite of white conservative Christians, getting the nod of 27 percent of the respondents. His closest competition was neurosurgeon Ben Carson at 14 percent, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz at 12 percent, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush at 10 percent, and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, who normally scores well with the evangelical vote, at just 9 percent.
Further, evangelist Jerry Falwell, Jr. has praised Trump as "one of the greatest visionaries of our time," and Franklin Graham has lauded him for "shaking up the political process, Powers notes.
However, she poked fun at Trump saying the Bible is his favorite book while not saying what his favorite verse is, saying Trump's claim "might be part of that truthful hyperbole that serves as promotion for the reality TV star seeking the presidency of the United States."
But at the Iowa Family Leadership Summit in July, Trump raised eyebrows not for his statements that people are surprised to learn he's a Protestant, but for saying he does not seek God's forgiveness
for his transgressions.
"A Christian who has never sought forgiveness for his sins is like a vegan who has filet mignon for dinner every night," writes Powers.
He also raised eyebrows when he commented that he goes to church to "drink my little wine, have my little cracker,"
At July’s Family Leadership Summit, Trump exclaimed, "People are so shocked when they find ... out I am Protestant. I am Presbyterian. And I go to church and I love God and I love my church."
But the Twitter hashtag #TrumpBible, complete with user-written Trump-style verses
, is funny becuase "they are so close to the truth," writes Powers.
"Trump is a dangerous megalomaniac with a distorted sense of reality," she said, noting that when 30,000 people came to see him in Mobile, Ala., he told the crowd he knows how Billy Graham felt.
Powers also notes that Trump has said he attends Marble Collegiate Church in New York, where the late Norman Vincent Peale was pastor.
"Pastor Paula White, a prosperity gospel huckster, reportedly will host a meeting for Trump
with Christian leaders," said Powers. The evangelist often tells her flock to donate large sums of money to "seed" God's answers to their prayers.
"She's a scam artist," said Powers, "just like Trump. Evangelical voters need to wake up."
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