Trump: Christianity is under siege

Republican presidential candidate, businessman Donald Trump. (Chuck Burton, AP)
Republican presidential candidate, businessman Donald Trump. (Chuck Burton, AP)

Lynchburg - Donald Trump declared himself a defender of besieged Christians in a campaign speech to more than 11 000 people on Monday, as the Republican presidential frontrunner openly courted the support of evangelicals two weeks away from first voting.

News that Trump, known more for womanising, an extravagant lifestyle and bombastic rhetoric than piety, was to speak at the private Liberty University in Virginia had triggered threats of student protests.

But the 69-year-old billionaire and real-estate tycoon found a receptive audience at the university, an evangelical bastion and a rite of passage for conservative presidential candidates from Ronald Reagan in the 1980s to Ted Cruz, Trump's main Republican rival.

Trump, who has courted a string of controversies and urged a ban on Muslims entering the United States, and Cruz are locked in a tight race in Iowa, which on February 1 becomes the first state to vote for party nominees.

Cruz, a Texas senator whose father is a Cuban-born evangelical preacher, already enjoys strong support from the evangelical community.

On Monday, it was Trump's turn to secure the backing of the key voting block.

"We've done great with the evangelicals. The evangelicals have been amazing," he told the crowd, to cheers, on what was a US holiday commemorating civil rights leader Martin Luther King.

"We're going to protect Christianity. If you look what's going on throughout the world, you look at Syria, where if you're Christian, they're chopping off heads.

"You look at the different places, and Christianity, it's under siege.

"I'm a Protestant, I'm very proud of it, Presbyterian to be exact, but I'm proud of it, very, very proud."

Evangelical voters typically support candidates that are conservative on social issues, an area of weakness for Trump.

According to polls, nearly two-thirds of evangelical Republicans say a candidate's position on abortion is the most important issue driving their voting decision.

But Trump, who during his political life has been a Democrat and an independent, is only a recent convert to the "pro-life" anti-abortion position prevalent among evangelical Christians.

In recent weeks Trump has stressed his own faith as he steps up efforts to reach out to this critical Republican voter group.

We live in a world where facts and fiction get blurred
In times of uncertainty you need journalism you can trust. For only R75 per month, you have access to a world of in-depth analyses, investigative journalism, top opinions and a range of features. Journalism strengthens democracy. Invest in the future today.
Subscribe to News24
Lockdown For
DAYS
HRS
MINS
Voting Booth
When assisting your child with remote learning this year, did you:
Please select an option Oops! Something went wrong, please try again later.
Results
Follow the school's comprehensive sexuality education (CSE) curriculum?
13% - 49 votes
Adjust the CSE curriculum to suit the family's morals?
26% - 95 votes
Ignore the schools CSE programme and do your own teaching?
61% - 222 votes
Vote
ZAR/USD
15.24
(-0.20)
ZAR/GBP
20.30
(+0.04)
ZAR/EUR
18.16
(-0.24)
ZAR/AUD
11.23
(-0.38)
ZAR/JPY
0.15
(-0.25)
Gold
1806.19
(-0.17)
Silver
23.18
(-0.06)
Platinum
958.00
(-0.03)
Brent Crude
47.75
(-1.52)
Palladium
2368.36
(+0.54)
All Share
57871.61
(-0.09)
Top 40
53074.52
(-0.02)
Financial 15
11746.73
(+0.87)
Industrial 25
79725.48
(-0.33)
Resource 10
52697.22
(-0.18)
All JSE data delayed by at least 15 minutes morningstar logo