NEW YORK CITY (Christian Examiner)—A day before the New York presidential primaries, a coalition of 60 conservative ministers who support Republican presidential frontrunner Donald Trump met with the candidate as part of his National Diversity Coalition for Trump.
Seattle-area evangelist Eric Cowley, who organized the group of pastors, has been collecting e-mails and letters from 100 pastors and ministers endorsing Trump since last November.
The list includes a variety of family members of the ministers, as well. Cowley's wife, Gillian, and daughter, Jessica, appear on the list and count among the 100. Both serve as "ministers" in Cowley's work. Others on the list are five from New Creation Church in Houston, Texas, and two from the Full Gospel Business Fellowship of America. Some are identified as "African-American" and "North American Indian."
According to an article on Time.com, Cowley's decision to back Trump is spiritually motivated.
"As I prayed about it, what dropped into my heart ... was a Scripture in the Bible, 'They strained over gnats and they swallowed camels,'" Cowley told Time. He went on to note that Christians should be more concerned by issues of substance rather than Trump's past "indiscretions."
When Cowley sent into the campaign his list of endorsements for Trump, he also provided a copy of his campaign strategy manual, which he has used to fill stadiums of people overseas that respond to his message.
The pastor sees some of his own work in Trump's self-financing of his campaign. Cowley has self-financed evangelistic missions in Africa.
Trump's support among evangelicals has largely stumped pundits in 2016. Though twice-divorced and with a seemingly recent conversion to the moral and cultural issues that have shaped the conservative Christian vote since at least 1980, he has gotten broad evangelical support—including the endorsements of several high-profile Christian leaders.
There have been a variety of cases made for his success in the evangelical world—including the possibility that he is reaching mostly nominal evangelicals. A recent Washington Post article noted that while Trump has won 36 percent of the white, evangelical vote in the 20 state primaries or caucuses where exit polls had been conducted up until that point, his support has dropped significantly among more active churchgoers.
Yet Ed Stetzer noted of the Washington Post piece that even among the most devout evangelicals, Trump is the most popular Republican candidate. Stetzer suggests that while "it's a myth to say all evangelicals are for Trump, it's also a myth to say that evangelicals are not for Trump."
Time has previously reported on another segment of the evangelical community that has latched on to the real-estate mogul. Time says Trump has built a strong following among "prosperity pastors," those who teach that God wants to give people better health and more wealth.
Time noted that prosperity preachers' focus on winning and success syncs with Trump's own ideology.
"Trump does not need the come-to-Jesus conversion long required of American politicians to have the ideal testimony for prosperity believers," Elizabeth Dias of Time reported. "His economic success is the truest sign of God's blessing. It even frees Trump's supporters to accept what would traditionally be seen as evangelical failings: his three marriages, past support for abortion, and public refusal to ask for forgiveness."
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