Trump held up what he said was a bible given to him by his mother. “She wrote the name and my address and it’s just very special to me,” he said, in a quiet voice. He then referred to polls showing his strong support among evangelicals and added: “I want to thank the evangelicals. I will never let you down.”
The following day, Trump went to church in Council Bluffs and confused the silver communion plates that were passed around with the offering plates, reaching for dollar bills from his pocket and leading some to question just how frequently he attended such services.
It did not matter. Trump’s appeal had worked. After he claimed a surprise victory that November, it would emerge he had secured the support of 81 per cent of white evangelicals.
This week, as the US controversially moved its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, and scores of Palestinian protesters were shot dead by Israeli snipers and soldiers, the evangelicals received their reward.
Those seeking to reconcile how a group of conservative Christians could support a thrice-married casino owner who bragged about sexually assaulting women and whose lawyer would feel obliged to pay hush money to an adult actress on the eve of the election, need look no further than the reaction from evangelicals to the embassy’s opening, amid slaughter in Gaza.
“We are deeply grateful to President Trump for finally recognising the reality that Jerusalem is the eternal, indivisible capital of Israel, the homeland of the Jewish people, and that the United States Embassy belongs in Jerusalem,” wrote evangelical Ralph Read, chairman of the Faith and Freedom Coalition and director of the powerful Christian Coalition during the 1990s.