Republican presidential candidate Donald J. Trump elicited many reactions during his speech at Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virginia Monday morning, but a particularly concerned response came from Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission president Russell Moore.
Prior to Trump's speech, Liberty University president Jerry Falwell, Jr. praised the real estate mogul-turned-GOP candidate for his successful business career:
“Donald Trump's life has borne fruit, fruit that has provided jobs to multitudes of people in addition to the many he has helped with his generosity.”
Falwell added that, “In my opinion Donald Trump lives a life of loving and helping others as Jesus taught in the great commandment.”
Following that quote, Moore tweeted his disdain for such a quote:
But Moore, who remains one of the United States most prominent evangelical leaders, elaborated further his primary concerns with Trump's speech to Independent Journal Review.
Noting that Liberty University “is right to have candidates from all viewpoints” address the student body, Moore wrote in an email that Trump's character should also be taken into concern:
“What concerned me was the cloaking of Trump in spiritual garb, saying that he has as Jesus taught us, borne fruit. If character matters, as evangelicals have been saying for fifty years, then character matters. This is a man who has broken up two households, who had made money off of breakup families and exploiting the poor in the casino gambling industry, and has used racially-charged slurs against various people and groups.”
Moore added that in lieu of such transgressions toward Christian values and principles, “Trump says he has nothing for which to seek forgiveness.”
Regarding Trump's prospects in the upcoming Iowa caucuses on February 1, Moore noted that many of the Hawkeye state's evangelicals appear to be committed to Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas):
“I think Ted Cruz has organized the politically activist evangelicals in Iowa, to the extent that Trump would have a difficult time there. If Trump wins, or comes close in Iowa, it would mean the start of a massive Trump wave.”
And if Moore is correct in his assertion that “politically activist evangelicals” are more drawn to Cruz, that could spell bad news for Trump, as evangelicals made up approximately 57 percent of Republican caucus-goers in the 2012 cycle.
But on the subject of Trump's speech, which included a scriptural gaffe, Moore concluded that “now is the time for a clear articulation of the gospel, not to leave a lost soul confused about his relationship with God. The gospel is more important than politics, more important than the United States of America.”