Many Religious Right leaders joined President Donald Trump in Orlando on Tuesday for his re-election rally, and others cheered him on via social media. Paula White, Trump’s spiritual adviser, opened with a prayer that portrayed Trump as God’s anointed ruler and his opponents as agents of Satan.
Among those in attendance was Steven Strang, head of the Pentecostal-oriented Charisma media company. Strang commented on the rally in a blog post and podcast, which he also used to promote the two books he’s written about how, he says, God raised up Trump, and the impact that Trump has had in office.
Strang praised Trump for being “a champion for the church” at “a time when the left is waging an attack on Christianity.”
Strang repeatedly declared that he was “surprised” by how many Christian leaders came to Orlando for the event—among them Jentezen Franklin, Jerry Falwell Jr., Robert Jeffress, Harry Jackson, Alveda King, and Darrell Scott.
Why in the world would Strang be surprised at a strong showing from the Religious Right? Conservative white evangelicals are the most loyal part of Trump’s base and people like Falwell and Jeffress are among Trump’s most visible and unapologetic supporters. Jackson and King are both part of the POTUS Shield network that promotes Trump as God’s anointed.
Strang reported on his conversations with other religious leaders in attendance—he says King got him invited to a VIP reception with Trump and Vice President Mike Pence and Florida Republican leaders—and said most of them expected Trump to win re-election, but that some had concerns about “the left’s radical enthusiasm” and whether Trump’s Christian supporters will turn out to vote. He said reception attendees were required to lock up their cellphones before entering so no one could record what was said there.
Strang’s message, which conservative Christians will be hearing relentlessly between now and November 2020, is that “there’s a real attack on Christianity,” a “war against biblical Christianity,” which is why, he warns, that conservative evangelicals must turn out.
“If Christians don’t turn out to vote in record numbers, the left could win and reverse all the good Trump has accomplished,” according to Strang.
“The future of our country is at stake in next year’s election,” he wrote. “And if Christians decide not to rally together and vote according to biblical values, we could see our spiritual enemy win some major battles—in our policies, our leadership and our rights. If you agree, share this article and encourage your friends to vote!
Trump’s rally speech was, in many ways, typically Trump; it was marked by lies, a lingering obsession with Hillary Clinton, hyperbolic self-aggrandizement and vicious demonization of his critics. Trump also followed the Religious Right’s time-honored strategy of wrapping his campaign in the language of faith and family. In a follow-up fundraising email, Trump declared it “probably the GREATEST campaign announcement in this history of politics because of all of the incredible energy!”