HOUSTON (Christian Examiner) – Republican frontrunner Donald Trump said on ABC News' This Week with George Stephanopolous that Easter "really means something very special" to him, but what it means he had difficulty expressing.
"I'm going to church in an hour from now and it's going to be – it's a beautiful church. I'm in Florida," Trump said.
"And it's just a very special time for me. And it really represents family and get-together and – and something, you know, if you're a – a Christian. It's just a very important day."
And it's just a very special time for me. And it really represents family and get-together and – and something, you know, if you're a – a Christian. It's just a very important day.
The comment – and the inability to explain simple concepts of the Christian faith, among them the central doctrine of the resurrection of Jesus Christ – is the latest in a growing line of public gaffes that could cost Trump evangelical support in the remaining primary states before the Republican National Convention in June.
Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, who is gaining on Trump in national polls and in some polls shows a lead in Wisconsin (the next primary contest), also issued a statement on the Good Friday-Easter weekend.
"This weekend, Christians of every denomination remember the most transformative event in history – Christ's crucifixion and resurrection – the ultimate sacrifice that redeemed the whole world," Cruz said in the statement.
Cruz said the sacrifice of Jesus Christ and the gift of salvation God offers in him makes believers "new" – taken together all familiar ways Christians describe the doctrine of atonement, resurrection and being born again.
Cruz also spoke to the recent terror attacks in Brussels in his statement.
"The light of Christ brings hope to every corner of the world. This year Heidi and I pray that in the wake of the Brussels attack, as we mourn for the victims who lost their lives in the subway tunnels and airport corridors at the hands of baseless terrorists, we will remember that the light of truth is stronger than the darkness of terror," Cruz said.
Trump's unfamiliarity with evangelical thought and doctrine first showed in July 2015, when the New York billionaire, who has bragged in his bestsellers about seducing married women, said he had never asked for forgiveness.
"I just try to go and do a better job from there. If I do something wrong, I think I just try and make it right. I don't bring God into that picture. I don't," Trump said.
He also confused communion as a means of conveying forgiveness, which is nearer to Catholic doctrine, but not identical there either.
"When we go in church and when I drink my little wine and have my little cracker, I guess that's a form of asking for forgiveness," Trump said. "I do that as often as possible because I feel cleansed."
During a CNN interview the following month, Trump said his favorite book was the Bible. Asked what his favorite Bible verse was, he could not – or would not – answer.
"I wouldn't want to get into it. Because to me, that's very personal," Trump said. "The Bible means a lot to me, but I don't want to get into specifics."