Trump supports displaying the Ten Commandments in schools and asks evangelicals to vote in November

Trump supports displaying the Ten Commandments in schools and asks evangelicals to vote in November
Trump supports displaying the Ten Commandments in schools and asks evangelicals to vote in November

WASHINGTON (AP) — Donald Trump told a group of evangelicals Saturday that they “can’t afford to sit on the sidelines” in the 2024 U.S. election, imploring them to “go and vote, Christians, please! ”

The former president also supported displaying the Ten Commandments in schools and elsewhere, in a speech in Washington to a group of politically influential evangelical Christians. He drew acclaim as he mentioned a new law passed in Louisiana this week, which requires the Ten Commandments to be displayed in all public school classrooms.

“Has anyone read the ‘Thou shalt not steal’ thing? I mean, has anyone read these incredible things? Simply incredible,” Trump declared at the Faith & Freedom Coalition meeting. “They don’t want it to be proclaimed. “It’s a crazy world.”

A day earlier, Trump posted his support for the new law on his social network, saying: “I love the Ten Commandments in public schools, in private schools and in many other places, in fact. Read them. How could we go wrong as a nation?”

The former president and virtual Republican presidential nominee backed the measure at a time when he is trying to mobilize his supporters on the religious right, who have strongly supported him after initially being suspicious of the twice-divorced New York tabloid celebrity when he He first ran for president in 2016.

That support has continued even though, in the first of four criminal trials he faces, a jury found him guilty of falsifying accounting records for what prosecutors say was an attempt to cover up a payment to porn actress Stormy. Daniels in order to buy her silence shortly before the 2016 elections. Daniels claims to have had a sexual encounter with Trump a decade earlier, something he denies.

Trump’s vocal opposition to signing a national abortion ban and his reluctance to elaborate on some of his views on the issue are at odds with many members of the evangelical movement, a key part of Trump’s expected base. to help him get votes in his November rematch against President Joe Biden.

However, while many members of the movement would like to see him do more to restrict abortion, they hail him as the cause’s greatest champion because of his role in appointing Supreme Court justices who struck down abortion rights nationwide in 2022.

Trump highlighted that fact Saturday, saying, “We did something amazing,” but the issue would be left for people to decide on in the states.

“Every voter must go with their heart and do the right thing, but we also have to get elected,” he said.

While he continues to take credit for the overturning of Roe v. Wade, Trump has also warned that abortion could be a politically complicated issue for Republicans. For months he dodged questions about his stance on a national ban.

Last year, when Trump spoke to the Faith & Freedom coalition, he said that “the federal government plays a vital role in protecting the lives of the unborn,” but did not elaborate further.

In April of this year, Trump stated that he believed the issue should now be left in the hands of the states. He later stated in an interview that he would not ratify a nationwide abortion ban if Congress passed it. He has so far declined to give details about his stance on women’s access to the abortion pill mifepristone.

About two-thirds of Americans say abortion should generally be legal, according to a poll conducted last year by The Associated Press and the NORC Center for Public Affairs Research.

Some attendees at Saturday’s evangelical rally noted that while they would like to see a nationwide abortion ban, Trump has lost none of their deep support for him.

“I would prefer that he enact a national ban,” said Jerri Dickinson, a 78-year-old retired social worker from New Jersey and member of Faith & Freedom. “But I understand that, under the Constitution, that decision should be left to the states.”

Dickinson said she can’t stand her state’s abortion law, which sets no limits on the procedure based on the stage of gestation. But she said that, even though she prefers a national ban, leaving the issue in the hands of the states “is the best alternative.”

John Pudner, 59, who recently started a Faith & Freedom chapter in his home state of Wisconsin, said members of the movement feel loyal to Trump, but “in general we would like him to be more anti-abortion.”

“I think many within the anti-abortion movement feel that it is too pro-choice,” she said. “But since they appreciate the justices he put on the Supreme Court, that’s kind of a positive thing within the anti-abortion community.”

According to AP VoteCast, a broad survey of the electorate, about 8 in 10 white evangelical Christian voters supported Trump in 2020, and about 4 in 10 Trump voters said they are white evangelical Christians. White evangelical Christians made up about 20% of the general electorate that year.

Beyond just offering its own endorsement in the general election, the Faith & Freedom coalition plans to help turn out the vote for Trump and other Republicans, using volunteers and paid workers to knock on millions of doors in battleground states.

Trump said Saturday that evangelicals and Christians “don’t vote as much as they should,” and joked that while he wants them to vote in November, he wouldn’t mind if they vote again after then.

He said Christianity is threatened by what he believes is an erosion of freedom, law and the nation’s borders.

In his nearly 90-minute speech, he returned several times to the topic of the border between the United States and Mexico and, at one point, when he said that the migrants who cross it are “resistant,” he joked that he had told his friend Dana White, president of the mixed martial arts company Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC), who enrolled them in a new version of that sport.

“Why don’t you establish a migrant league and maintain your conventional fighter league? And then you have the champion of your league, those are the greatest fighters in the world, fighting the champion of the migrants,” he said he told White. “I think the migrant could win, that’s how resistant they are. He didn’t like the idea very much.”

His story drew laughter and applause from the crowd.

Trump had planned to hold a nighttime rally in Philadelphia later Saturday.

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Associated Press writers Tom Strong and Amelia Thomson DeVeaux contributed to this report.

AP

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