Written by: Ivan Flores
Article source: religionunplugged.com
The evangelical coalition for President Donald Trump officially launched on Jan. 3, 2020 at El Rey Jesús, a megachurch in Miami.
The coalition was announced in the aftermath of the Christianity Today editorial that called for Trump’s removal from office amid the ongoing impeachment inquiry and asked his Christian supporters to consider how supporting such “grossly immoral character” impacts their witness as representatives of the faith.
Trump swiftly condemned the editorial, which revealed fissures inside the evangelical movement between those who support the president and those who believe that the editorial spoke for them.
The crowd gathered on a sunny field outside the church, where they lined up to be screened by the secret service. Worship songs played over loudspeakers while steam wafted off of parked food trucks. Vendors mingled in the crowd to sell Trump-branded hats, shirts, flags and pins. Decked out in a mix of their Sunday best and Trump-branded outfits, thousands gathered to pack the church to listen to Trump speak.
“Yes, he’s coarse and blunt but he has a pure heart,” said Valeria Bianco, who drove from Ft. Lauderdale to see the president. According to Bianco, the people who published the editorial are nonbelievers who are “stuck in the past.”
During the course of Trump’s speech he called on Cissie Graham Lynch, a granddaughter of Billy Graham, the late preacher and popular traveling evangelist who founded Christianity Today. Lynch said she would help secure the evangelical vote for the president’s reelection bid, and the crowd cheered. Several members of the Graham family have commented on the matter and have voiced competing opinions about the issue.
The church represents a unique intersection of voters that President Trump is attempting to reach ahead of the 2020 election, Latinos and evangelicals. Miami is 70 percent Latino or Hispanic, according to census data, and over half of the Cuban population voted for President Trump. Additionally, a recent study by the Pew Research Center showed that evangelical support for the president remains high.
In his opening remarks, Apostle Guillermo Maldonado, the head pastor and founder of King Jesus International Ministry, said that he was hosting Trump in a personal capacity and led the congregation through a prayer for the nation. Apostle Maldonado has appeared with Trump at a number of events and his congregation is one of the largest Hispanic churches in the nation.
Trump walked out to chants of “USA! USA! USA!,” from the crowd. His remarks touched on the articles of impeachment (which Speaker Pelosi has yet to present to the Senate), abortion, freedom of speech, gun rights, his re-election campaign and the Johnson Amendment, which prevents tax exempt organizations from endorsing or opposing political candidates.
While speaking about abortion, the president said, “We believe in the right to life.” The crowd erupted into applause and cheered, “USA, USA, USA” again.
Maria Martinez, a Christian who relocated from California to Miami, said she loved every moment of the rally.
“Christians understand this president,” she said.
Her husband, Ariel Martinez, said, “He’s been the strongest defender of Christianity today. He has a clear stance on abortion and Israel.”
“Everything he stands for is what the Bible says,” Maria added. The sentiment was common among those in attendance.
During the president’s hour long speech, he lashed out at several Democrats while calling the Democratic Party anti-religious. “The intolerant left is on a campaign against religion,” Trump said. “In America we don’t worship government, we worship God.” The audience applauded.
Oscar Freixas, a small business owner and Miami native who has supported Trump since 2016, said he feels safe enough to express his belief in God openly now that Trump is in office, a theme Trump touched on during his speech. “Now they’re all saying Merry Christmas, they’re all saying it again very proudly,” Trump said, referring to a perceived war on Christmas and declining prominence of Christian traditions.
As streams of cars flowed out of the parking lot after the President’s speech was finished, Valeria Bianco stood in the parking lot wearing a custom-made Trump 2020 hat that the president had signed.
“[His] actions speak louder than his words,” she said.
Date published: 14/01/2020
Feature image: U.S. President Donald Trump
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