Evangelical leader James Dobson says Donald Trump is a born-again Christian
Dobson and other evangelical leaders met with Trump last week in New York
Donald Trump is now a born-again Christian, an evangelical leader says, but a top campaign aide declined to comment on that revelation on Sunday.
“He did accept a relationship with Christ,” James Dobson, the founder of Focus on the Family, said in a radio interview with on Pennsylvania pastor Michael Anthony’s “Godfactor” taped Tuesday. “I know the person who led him to Christ, and that’s fairly recent.”
Trump does not speak publicly about his faith often, but last week he met with a group of high-profile evangelical leaders in New York.
Dobson told Anthony Trump is a “baby Christian.”
“I don’t know when it was, but it has not been long,” Dobson said. “And I believe he really made a commitment. He’s a baby Christian, if you will – (Christians) need to be praying for him.”
Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort deflected questions about the presumptive 2016 Republican nominee’s faith on Sunday.
“I’m not going to speak to Donald Trump and his embrace of religion. You’ll have to talk to him about that,” Manafort said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”
But Manafort touted Trump’s support from evangelical Christian leaders.
“In my 40 years in politics, I’ve never seen such a broad base of support within that community for one candidate,” he said.
Dobson said in the radio interview Trump isn’t fluent in the terminology common to evangelicals – but deserves “some slack.”
“He doesn’t know our language. You know, we had 40 Christians together with him. He used the word hell four or five times. He doesn’t know our language, he really doesn’t. And he refers a lot to religion and not much to faith and belief,” Dobson said. “You got to cut him some slack, he didn’t grow up like we did. I think there’s hope for him.”
After the meeting with Trump on Tuesday, another evangelical leader, Ralph Reed, said Trump “talked about personal faith, importance of faith.”
“But he made it abundantly clear, ‘I don’t know the Bible as well as you do, I’m not a theologian, but I’m a Christian,’” Reed said. “He talked about his children and how he raised his children, moral values, don’t smoke, don’t drink, don’t do drugs.”
Reed added: “It’s not really our job to judge other peoples’ spiritual journey. Just because they’re not in the same place we are, we accept him for who he is now.”
But Trump has publicly expressed skepticism about other candidates’ faith before – including Tuesday, after his meeting with evangelical leaders, when he attacked Hillary Clinton and President Barack Obama.
“We don’t know anything about Hillary in terms of religion,” Trump said. “Now, she’s been in the public eye for years and years, and yet there’s no – there’s nothing out there. There’s like nothing out there. It’s going to be an extension of Obama but it’s going to be worse, because with Obama you had your guard up. With Hillary you don’t, and it’s going to be worse.”
The day after Trump’s remarks, Clinton appealed to her Christian faith as the guiding source for her desire to help children.
“Every single child deserves the chance to live up to his or her God-given potential. That has been the cause of my life. It’s rooted in the values that I’ve learned from my family and my faith,” she said Wednesday in Raleigh.
“We have responsibility to lift each other up,” she added. “As we Methodists like to say, do all the good you can to all the people you can in all the ways you can.”
While Clinton doesn’t regularly talk about her faith, she has had a number of public interactions with people where they discussed her faith.
She also talked about her faith in an interview with CNN in January, saying: “My faith is a central part of who I am.”
CNN’s Ashley Killough contributed to this report.