Trump Chides Past Evangelical Supporters Who Haven’t Endorsed Him

By Jack Jenkins
trump prayer jeffress disloyalty
On Sept. 1, 2017, religious leaders pray with President Donald Trump in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci, via RNS)

Former President Donald Trump is chiding evangelical Christian pastors who previously supported him but haven’t endorsed his new presidential campaign, accusing the faith leaders of “disloyalty.”

During an appearance on the Real America’s Voice show “The Water Cooler” on Monday, host David Brody asked Trump about evangelical leaders such as Robert Jeffress, a Texas pastor who was one of the former president’s most stalwart supporters during his presidency but who recently announced he would not endorse Trump unless he wins the GOP primary race.

Despite initially saying he didn’t “really care” about the lack of endorsement from pastors such as Jeffress, who preached a sermon to Trump the day he was inaugurated titled “When God Chooses a Leader,” the former president went on to voice palpable frustration.

“It’s a sign of disloyalty,” Trump said. “There’s great disloyalty in the world of politics and that’s a sign of disloyalty.”

Trump then touted his record on abortion, noting his administration appointed three conservative Supreme Court justices — a move that ultimately resulted in the overturning of Roe v. Wade, ending nearly 50 years of the nationwide right to an abortion.

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Nobody “has ever done more for right to life than Donald Trump,” insisted the former president.

Trump appeared to blame evangelical leaders for the Republican Party’s meager showing in the 2022 midterm elections, saying he was “a little disappointed because I thought they could have fought much harder” on the issue of abortion.

“A lot of them didn’t fight or weren’t really around to fight,” he said. “It did energize the Democrats. … I don’t know, they weren’t there protesting and doing what they could have done.”

Asked about Trump’s remarks on Tuesday, Jeffress lauded the former president — but maintained his plans to refrain from endorsing until after the primary, and noted Trump has not asked for his endorsement.

“Recently, I said to President Trump privately and on Fox News publicly that President Trump was our greatest president since Reagan and had done more for evangelicals than any president in history,” said Jeffress in a statement to media. “Furthermore, I predicted that evangelicals would ultimately coalesce around him as the GOP nominee for 2024 and I would happily and enthusiastically support him. Hopefully, President Trump doesn’t think of me as being disloyal for not volunteering a primary endorsement he has not requested from me.”

trump jeffress disloyalty
President Donald Trump, left, is greeted by pastor Robert Jeffress of Dallas at the Celebrate Freedom Rally on July 1, 2017, in Washington, D.C. (Photo by Yuri Gripas/Reuters)

Asked if he would endorse Trump if requested, Jeffress said that because he doesn’t identify as a Republican he sees “no need to insert myself at this point into a possible Republican primary fight.” He added that he expects Trump to be the 2024 nominee regardless.

Trump’s venting session highlights the former president’s ongoing struggle to amass the same level of fervent support from a subset of evangelical leaders he enjoyed in 2016 and throughout his presidency. Despite a “Pastors for Trump” initiative launched in December after Trump’s 2024 campaign announcement, conservative Christian leaders who championed his cause for years, such as Jeffress and evangelist Franklin Graham, have yet to throw their support behind the businessman’s new White House bid.

Meanwhile, Jeffress hosted former Vice President Mike Pence — who is rumored to be a potential 2024 presidential contender — at his church over the weekend, although Jeffress pointed out to RNS that he did not endorse Pence.

According to Axios, Pence told the crowd he “couldn’t be more proud of the Trump-Pence administration” but added: “Obviously the administration did not end well. It ended in controversy.”

Pence also appeared to endorse the idea of Christian nationalism, an ideology embraced by Jeffress and championed by Trump throughout his political tenure. The former vice president, who was at the church promoting his new book “So Help Me God,” called the term Christian nationalism “something of a pejorative … among the left-wing media.”

“This nation has ever been sustained by Christian patriots who believe in America,” Pence said, later adding, “America is a nation of faith.”

jack jenkinsJack Jenkins is an award-winning journalist and national reporter for the Religion News Service.

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14 thoughts on “Trump Chides Past Evangelical Supporters Who Haven’t Endorsed Him”

  1. Jeffress, Falwell and Franklin Graham’s Christian Nationalism brings to mind Will Rogers saying:
    “Mixing politics and religion is like mixing manure and ice cream. It doesn’t do much to the manure but it surely does ruin the ice cream”.

  2. President Trump’s decrying of disloyalty rings hollow after he threw his faithful Vice President, Mike Pence, to the wolves. Though some of his policies and priorities have indeed been good for the country, there appear to be some very attractive alternatives brewing in the background that do not have his baggage, irascibility, and self-importance. I would welcome some fresh faces in the ring.

  3. Mark M. Tyrrell

    Early in the 2016 presidential campaign, the Black American economist hit the nail right on the head when he stated that if Donald Trump and Hilary Clinton (and in 2020, Joe Biden) were truly the very best that the Republicans and the Democrats could do, then America was (and still is) in serious trouble.

    Tucker Carlson was equally right on the money when he stated that happy nations don’t elect Donald Trump as president; desperate ones do.

    One can call Donald Trump what one wishes, but he most assuredly is not a fiscal conservative. Immediately after his 2016 win, people from the conservative and libertarian wings of the Republican Party put it to President-elect Trump that the nation’s finances had to be a priority. They presented him with a plan to eliminate the deficit and restore a balanced budget.

    Their efforts went in one presidential ear and out the other.

    Finally, it must be stressed that whatever people’s faults may be, Donald Trump and his supporters are not racists. This can be seen in the fact that the city of Abilene, Texas voted overwhelmingly for Donald Trump in 2016. In 2017, Abilene voters elected a Black mayor.

    1. trump supporters may not be racists, but electing a racist certainly isn’t a deal breaker for them. and continuing to support trump even with his incredibly racist policies means they might be more racist than they’d like to think they are. Also, saying they’re not racist because they voted for a Black mayor is akin to saying I can’t be racist because I have a Black friend. Racism isn’t about outright hatred in most cases- but about thinking that white people are naturally superior, more morally pure, better parents, etc. than other races, and came here “the right way”.

      1. “Racism isn’t about outright hatred in most cases- but about thinking that white people are naturally superior, more morally pure, better parents, etc. than other races….”

        I pretty sure I don’t know a single person who thinks this way, including the people I know who voted for Trump.

        1. Gordon –

          I would agree with you – to an extent. While I don’t know any who consciously think this way, many of thier comments and expressed attitudes and beliefs definitely have this undertone (Examples I’ve experienced: open hostility toward diversity, saying Black kids who misbehave “should be locked up” and “clearly have irresponsible parents”, while saying white kids who misbehave “shouldn’t have their lives ruined and deserve another chance” and their “parents are clearly overworked trying to keep up with rising costs of living”, etc.)
          It’s reading between the lines.

    2. “Abilene voters elected a Black mayor.”

      This is no different from the excuse racists have used since time immemorial: “Some of my friends are black.” in that it doesn’t mean anything.

      Racism rarely manifests as “I hate all black people.” It’s typically far less overt than that. For example, a person having black friends doesn’t mean that they can’t believe black people are inferior to white people in some way, or that they are intrinsically less trustworthy, etc.

      It is widely known that male white supremacists often seek out Asian women to marry, and it’s certainly not because they believe that Asian people are their equal.

      That’s not to say all Trump supporters are racist, but you certainly cannot conclude they aren’t racist from this data point either, especially since only 7,015 people voted for Williams in his 2017 run off and Trump got over 33,000 votes in 2016. Williams also underperformed Trump by a massive margin (percentagewise), which would certainly indicate significant reluctance in supporting him among Trump supporters. For what reason, I couldn’t say, but his race certainly could be one factor.

    3. Jen said it beautifully.
      I don’t think all Trump supporters are racist. I just think that racist and bigoted comments and behavior are not deal breakers.
      I don’t care what a candidate is promising – if I hear that person make statements full of ignorant, insulting generalizations or stereotypes, it’s GAME OVER. And if that person were to get elected, I would not make excuses for that behavior by blaming “the media”, trying to say “it’s God’s will” or “he’s like King Cyrus – it’s Biblical!”, or spinning it with “well at least Roe v Wade was overturned!” I would actually spend more time demonstrating compassion and empathy for those on the receiving end of his statements, who have to deal with the fact that it’s coming from the mouth of the person elected to be their leader. What does it feel like when your own President refers to you as “rapists” or “sons of b___ches” – and your fellow Americans – who proclaim to be Christians and “love you with the love of Christ” cheer? THAT has been a major source of discord: not just Trump, but the reaction to him.
      Shame on the church for letting it get this far.
      Let’s move on and salvage what’s left of our reputation. Next candidate, please.

  4. Mike Pence is a weasel and just as bad as trump- maybe worse because he spent 6 year supporting and giving cover to trump, making trump’s lies legitimate. He also wields his faith like a weapon and gets away with it- he’s just pandering to christians by quoting scripture, and adapting it to meet his political needs, like he did at the republican convention. He’s worse than trump because he’s lying and scheming in Jesus’ name.

  5. How any Christian could continue to support an ungodly man that demands loyalty to himself akin to a tyrant, and if you don’t he throws you aside, is beyond me. He’s never even asked God for forgiveness for ANYTHING…

    “I am not sure I have [asked God for forgiveness]. I just go on and try to do a better job from there. I don’t think so,” he said. “I think if I do something wrong, I think, I just try and make it right. I don’t bring God into that picture. I don’t.”

    “When I drink my little wine – which is about the only wine I drink – and have my little cracker, I guess that is a form of asking for forgiveness, and I do that as often as possible because I feel cleansed,” he said. “I think in terms of ‘let’s go on and let’s make it right.’”

    (These things are EASILY Google-able and widely known and can be watched on YouTube. Asking for a reference for this is being willingly lazy.)

    This man has zero understanding of being a Christian. People who continue to believe he is after reading this are willingly deceiving themselves…or are themselves deceived.

  6. Jeffress et al will never get the taint off them from their worship and adoration of Trump. They proved to the world they and their brand of Christianity are empty of principle and truth.

  7. I did not vote for Trump in 2016 or 2020, but I will say that I am thankful that he ran both times. I just wish he would have done this running back in 1974 when I first a believer. It would have known the kind of people I was rubbing shoulders with in church and would have saved 42 years of my life in that world. I think the evangelicals that voted for him need to consider the tremendous damage he has done and continues to do to the cause of Christianity. Was it, is it worth it? I personally do not think it was and it continues to be a heavy price.

  8. Don’t think for a minute that any of these pastors are avoiding Trump because his personal moral corruption, his political corruption or his financial corruption is at odds with their Christian faith.

    They will all be in line to kiss his ring if Trump proves he can win the Republican nomination.

  9. White evangelicals were in large part responsible for nominating Trump as President in 2016 and 2020. White evangelicals will again be responsible for Trump’s nomination in 2024.

    Given the vulgar and nasty character of Trump I was at first surprised, but after 6 or 7 years no longer….

    I have pretty much stopped talking to most of my evangelical friends…. it is a complete waste of time…..

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