Minister Endorses Trump: 'Not a Bought Man'
LOURDES GARCIA-NAVARRO, HOST:
Republican front-runner Donald Trump's appeal to evangelical voters has baffled many political analysts. His language ranges from colorful to vulgar. He's immodest and money-obsessed. He's been married three times. And until recently, he was pro-choice. An appearance earlier this year at the conservative Christian college, Liberty University, saw him struggling with what many evangelicals would consider basic religious language.
(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)
DONALD TRUMP: Two Corinthians, right? Two Corinthians 3:17, that's the whole ballgame. Where the spirit of the Lord, right? Where the spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: That the verse that's more commonly referred to as Second Corinthians. And yet Liberty University President Jerry Falwell, Jr., one of the biggest names in the evangelical community, has endorsed Donald Trump. And so has Reverend James Linzey. He's a Christian minister and the founder of the Military Bible Association. He joins us from our member station, KPBS, in San Diego. Welcome, sir, to the program.
JAMES LINZEY: Thank you for having me.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: There are a few candidates in this race who have what you might call real evangelical roots. Ted Cruz's father is an evangelical pastor. But you've endorsed Donald Trump.
LINZEY: Well, first of all, I'd like to say that Ted Cruz is a hypocrite. All that religious talk is just for show. He's bought by Goldman Sachs. I voted for Donald Trump because he's not a bought man, and he means what he says when he lays out his policies. He stands for border control. He's going to bring back industry from foreign nations, which is the only way to create jobs. Furthermore, he's going to deport all the illegal aliens to reduce the financial burden on public services and make America safe again.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: So what I'm hearing from you is that this about his policies. His lack of religious bona fides isn't a problem at all.
LINZEY: Not at all. Frankly, I don't care what his faith is. I'm not voting someone because of his faith. And furthermore, he is not a pastor. He doesn't have to say Second Corinthians properly. He's a layman. He's not running for pastor in chief. He's running for commander in chief, and he's going to do a very good job.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: What about moral probity? I mean, this is a man whose name is emblazoned on a casino that features a strip club. Is that not a concern for you?
LINZEY: He's a businessman. When he becomes president, he's going to have nothing to do with his business. It's going to go into a blind trust and all that. But as a businessman, there are things you do for business. And that is separate from running for president of the United States. And I'd like to take Mitt Romney to task because he's violated the moral tenants of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints when he violated the Mormon rule of doing unto others what you would have others do unto you. And what he did to Trump was backhanded. It was political sabotage. It was hypocrisy. Four years ago, Donald Trump endorsed Mitt Romney. Mitt Romney begged for his endorsement. He would have gotten on his knees for that endorsement. And for him, four years later, to now come against Donald Trump is sheer hypocrisy. It's not loyalty. And he is a moral hypocrite.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: You mentioned that Donald Trump has business dealings and that is separate from his political ideology. And yet he once supported partial-birth abortion.
LINZEY: That's true. And I don't care what he said in the past. What I care about is what does he stand for today. People can change and that shows growth.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: But in one candidate, you call changing your mind hypocrisy and in Donald Trump you call it growth. There seems to be a disconnect in those two thoughts.
LINZEY: No, no, absolutely not. What Mitt Romney did was violating the moral tenants of his religion.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: But how can you be sure that Donald Trump won't change his mind yet again?
LINZEY: There is room for flexibility and working with people across the aisle. And as commander in chief, sometimes you have to work with people and sometimes you do have to compromise. But that does not mean you compromise what you believe and your core values.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: Reverend James Linzey is a Christian minister and the founder of the Military Bible Association. Thank you so very much for being with us.
LINZEY: My pleasure. Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.