From the now-infamous “Access Hollywood” leaked tape to actions that may have directly contributed to a violent attack on the United States Capitol, it has long appeared that there is nothing former president Donald Trump could do to lose support among white evangelicals.
However, events that took place over the weekend seemed to indicate growing fissures in that once impassable unity of approval, with Florida governor Ron DeSantis emerging as heir apparent over leadership of the Republican party, as well as the white evangelical support that comes with it.
DeSantis, whose gubernatorial re-election campaign will be decided this week, is believed to be preparing for a run at the presidency in 2024.
Trump, who garnered overwhelming support from white evangelicals in 2016, and then again in 2020, did so by bringing together a coalition of theologically diverse Christian leaders. The coalition has been so broad, in fact, that some Christian leaders within it would not only refrain from platforming each other but actively speak out against one another as false teachers.
The bigness of Trump’s theological tent was on display on Saturday (Nov. 5), when he held a campaign rally in Pennsylvania to support Republican senate candidate Mehmet Oz and Republican gubernatorial candidate Doug Mastriano. Featured at the event was prosperity preacher Kenneth Copeland.
Referring to him as “one of the great men of our country,” Trump invited Copeland to the podium to offer a prayer.
“By covenant, this nation belongs to God. Therefore, voting is a sacred trust. And if you don’t vote, hush for at least two years. You have no comment,” Copeland said, going on to describe Trump as “a man who will do what he says and keep his campaign promises.”
“In a few days here, people will be going to the polls again to cast vote[s] in the greatest nation in history,” Copeland prayed. “Your perfect will will be done, and this nation will begin to change, and it will continue to do so and it will continue under your leadership and your guidance. It will continue to change and change and change until it is great again.”
While Trump has yet to officially announce his candidacy for president in the 2024 election, he appears to have been gearing up for another presidential bid.
“I’m not going to say it right now, but I’m telling you…I promise you, in the very next—a very, very, very short period of time, you’re going to be so happy,” Trump said on Saturday.
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Alluding to a possible campaign, Trump said, “Today, I have the highest poll numbers I’ve ever had—perhaps partly because the Democrats are doing so badly running our country and people want our tremendous success of no inflation, energy independence, military victory.”