Home Christian News Trump, Confirmed a Presbyterian, Now Identifies as ‘Non-Denominational Christian’

Trump, Confirmed a Presbyterian, Now Identifies as ‘Non-Denominational Christian’

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FILE - In this Sept. 1, 2017 file photo, religious leaders pray with President Donald Trump after he signed a proclamation for a national day of prayer to occur on Sunday, Sept. 3, 2017, in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington. As the threat of impeachment looms, President Donald Trump is digging in and taking solace in the base that helped him get elected: conservative evangelical Christians who laud his commitment to enacting their agenda. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci, File photo).

WASHINGTON (RNS) — In an exclusive interview with Religion News Service, President Trump said in a written statement that he no longer identifies as a Presbyterian and now sees himself as a non-denominational Christian.

“Though I was confirmed at a Presbyterian church as a child, I now consider myself to be a non-denominational Christian,” Trump, who has repeatedly identified as a Presbyterian in the past, said in a written response to RNS.

Saying that his parents “taught me the importance of faith and prayer from a young age,” Trump went on to say that “Melania and I have gotten to visit some amazing churches and meet with great faith leaders from around the world. During the unprecedented COVID-19 outbreak, I tuned into several virtual church services and know that millions of Americans did the same.”

non-denominational Christian
President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump walk to board Air Force One to travel to Nashville, Tenn., for the presidential debate, Thursday, Oct. 22, 2020, in Andrews Air Force Base, Md. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

The revelation about Trump’s religious identity appeared in an interview that was conducted in writing and covered a variety of faith topics, ranging from the president’s own spiritual life to his plans for the White House office tasked with engaging faith groups.

Questions for the interview, which were first negotiated with the White House press office, were presented to the president by Paula White, a Florida pastor and the head of the White House Faith and Opportunity Initiative, according to the White House.

White House staffers said that the answers are attributable to the president.

Despite the unusual context, the result is a rare exchange about religion-related matters with a president who, while allying closely with evangelical Christian leaders, has said relatively little about his own faith.

Asked whether he learned anything spiritually from his experience of contracting COVID-19, Trump responded that he and Melania “felt the prayers of Americans from all across the country — and even around the world” when he was recovering at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center.

“I said, ‘There were miracles coming down from heaven.’ I meant it — Melania and I are very thankful to God for looking out for our family and re-turning us to good health,” he wrote.

Though the president didn’t directly answer a question about particular spiritual lessons he had learned from his influential evangelical supporters, Trump praised their faith and said Franklin Graham, president and CEO of his father Billy’s evangelistic organization and of the relief organization Samaritan’s Purse, had visited the Oval Office to pray for him earlier this month.

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Religion News Service (RNS) is an independent, nonprofit and award-winning source of global news on religion, spirituality, culture and ethics, reported by a staff of professional journalists. Founded in 1934, RNS seeks to inform readers with objective reporting and insightful commentary, and is relied upon by secular and faith-based news organizations in a number of countries. RNS is affiliated with the Missouri School of Journalism at the University of Missouri.