As Donald Trump keeps up the steady drumbeat of hateful attacks on immigrants seeking asylum and safety in the United States, evangelical leaders who are highly supportive of the blustery president have gone silent on his decidedly un-Christian rhetoric.
The Daily Beast attempted to gauge whether those same Trump-backing Christians agree with the president and want to turn away the immigrants — many of them Christians themselves — and came up empty as few wanted to talk about it.
According to the Beast, they “contacted more than a dozen top conservative Christian religious leaders with close ties to Trump, and only three of them were willing to talk on the record or issue comments about the president’s approach and policies. Those who did comment either avoided taking firm positions or declined to condemn Trump’s demagoguery on the issue.”
Dallas megachurch pastor Robert Jeffress, one of Trump’s most ardent supporters, explained that his followers are sympathetic but that they also are willing to draw a line when it comes to crossing the border.
“I’m sure the vast majority of the president’s base supports his efforts to secure the borders—including dispatching 5,200 soldiers to deal with the potential threat posed by the caravan,” Jeffress explained. “Every evangelical Christian I know is sympathetic with individuals who are fleeing persecution and are trying to enter our country legally. But when they come as a large group and defiantly vow to cross our borders, that sympathy tends to evaporate.”
He added that Trump’s plan to use the military to halt the immigrants would play well to the president’s base.
According to the Beast, evangelists Joel Osteen, Gloria and Kenneth Copeland, Paula White-Cain, and Jim Bakker, “declined to comment or did not respond to requests to comment on the record,” about the immigration crisis.
Focus on the Family’s James Dobson also refused to personally comment, instead having a spokesperson issue a statement reading, “The Dobson Policy Center supports President Trump’s firm stance on immigration policy that protects our borders, our national security, national sovereignty, and ultimately protects our families. A government’s chief legitimate obligation is to protect and preserve the fundamental, unalienable rights endowed by God for its own citizens.”
Spokesperson Jenna Ellis ducked the biblical aspect of turning a stranger away at the door, by adding, “We are supporters of legal immigration and the rule of law by immigration authorities.”