The Rushmore Report: A Christian Response to Missile Strike on Syria

The United States’ missile attack on the Shayrat Airfield in Syria took out 20 percent of their aircraft, in response to Syria’s April 4 chemical attack that killed over 80 innocent civilians. This was America’s first direct military action in Syria’s six-year civil war that has taken the lives of 400,000 people. Reaction from the world community has been swift. But what is the proper Christian response to President Trump’s action?

First, we must acknowledge there is no easy answer. Count Jack Graham, pastor of Dallas’ Prestonwood Church and former president of the Southern Baptist Convention, among the supporters of the American response. Graham tweeted, “America stands up to terror and sends the right message to all evildoers.” Rev. Samuel Rodriguez, president of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference, issued this statement: “The world community cannot sit idly by while brutal dictators like Bashar al-Assad are allowed to terrorize their own people and defying every international law and convention in the process. Our continued inaction would be our complicity. Too many lines have been crossed and too many lives lost. Thankfully, it seems the days of allowing such atrocities to be left unchecked are over.”

But other religious leaders take the opposite view. While Pope Francis decried the Syrian action, he has not spoken in support of America’s response. Other Catholic leaders have been outspoken in their criticism, suggesting violence is never the answer to violence. America’s largest Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization, the Council of American-Islamic Relations, said this: “This limited attack will not end the ongoing genocide that has resulted in the death, injury, rape, torture, and displacement of millions of innocent Syrians whose only ‘crime’ was seeking freedom and self-determination.”

So while there is not a clear, universally accepted “Christian” position on the American response to Assad’s inhumane attack on his own people, there are a few principles we should all be able to embrace.

1. Man is powerless to bring peace to the mess he has created.

There is an old Imperials song that says, “There will never be peace until Christ is seated at the conference table.” This is not to say President Trump should have done nothing to punish the Syrian regime. Inactivity and empty threats did not serve the Obama Administration well; a different strategy was long overdue. But we would be naive to think military action will bring the answer to the real problems of pride and sin.

2. Syrian president al-Assad will not go unpunished.

Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) responded to America’s missile attack with a Scripture – “Be sure of this: the wicked will not go unpunished” (Proverbs 11:21). Sin comes with a price. Whether justice is brought by military force or eternal punishment, the barbaric actions of this ruthless, savage dictator have not gone unnoticed by the Great Judge, nor will they go unpunished.

3. President Trump needs our prayers more than our criticism.

The President’s freelancing ways have exposed him to much – and often justified – criticism. His critics are many, in and out of the Christian community. But I will say here what I said from the pulpit for over 30 years – Do not criticize a man for whom you have not prayed. We are to pray for “all who are in authority” (1 Timothy 2:2). Agreeing with President Trump’s policies, direction, and character are not relevant for whether or not you pray for him.

4. We can all respond to the Syrian crisis personally.

In 12-step work, addicts are encouraged to make amends to those they have hurt when possible (step 9). When they are unable to make direct amends, they are encouraged to make “indirect amends” by blessing others who have been harmed, though not by themselves. It’s a biblical principle. What does that mean for us? Very few of us will be called to minister in Syria or to take in a Syrian refugee. But we are surrounded by refugees of other kinds every day. We can respond to the Syrian crisis by blessing those God has put in our paths. Feed the hungry, give to legitimate charities, and minister to the less fortunate. The real definition of pure religion, the Bible says, is to care for the widows and orphans (James 1:27). And it is in blessing the poor, homeless, and helpless that we bless God (Matthew 25:40).

Was President Trump’s missile attack on Syria the right thing to do? Count me among the “yes” votes. What al-Assad started has invoked a military response from the most powerful nation on earth. But make no mistake – God will get the final word.

The Rushmore Report: What Trump Just Said About His Need for God

In a recent interview with David Brody, of the Christian Broadcast Network, President Trump said four amazing things. He spoke of the media as “the opposition party.” He voiced his thoughts on the new Supreme Court nominee. He addressed the refugee crisis. But he saved the best for last. President Trump spoke out about his personal need for God – more now than ever.

1. “The opposition party”

Comparing the media to the Democratic Party, Trump said of the media, “I think to a large extent they’re much more capable than the other side.” He continued, “I think the media is the opposition party in many ways. A big portion of the media – the dishonesty, total deceit and deception – it makes them certainly partially the opposition party, absolutely.”

2. Replacing Scalia

When asked what kind of Justice Trump would nominate, he said, “I think people are going to love it. I think evangelicals, Christians will love my pick and will be represented very fairly.”

3. The refugee crisis

President Trump showed a special affinity for persecuted Christians. “They’ve been horribly treated. Do you know if you were a Christian in Syria it was impossible, at least very tough, to get into the United States. If you were a Muslim you could come in, but if you were a Christian, it was almost impossible.”

4. His need for God

Brody asked, Do you feel the need to pray more now that you are President?” Trump replied, “Well, I’ll tell you what. I’ve always felt the need to pray, and you know that. So, I would say that the office is so powerful that you need God even more because your decisions are no longer ‘Gee, I’m going to build a building in New York,’ or ‘I’m going to do this.’ These are questions of massive life and death, even with regard to health care. You know we’re working very hard on health care. But there, you’re talking about life and death and you’re talking about better lives.”

The Rushmore Report: Five Things to Know About Mike Pence

Indiana Governor Mike Pence is the Vice President-elect of the United States. During the general election, all focus is on the top of each ticket. But Governor Pence stands to make a significant difference in the Trump White House. So let’s meet Mr. Pence. There are five things you need to know about his faith and positions on issues like abortion and religious liberty.

1. Catholic, then Evangelical

Pence was raised in the Roman Catholic Church and attended private schools, belonging to what he once described as a large Irish family that celebrated the 1960 election of Democrat John F. Kennedy.

In an interview with CBN in 2010 while still a member of Congress, Pence explained that he had a deep spiritual conversion in college that eventually led him to become an evangelical.

“I began to meet young men and women who talked about having a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, and while I cherish my Catholic upbringing and the foundation that it poured into my faith, that had not been a part of my experience,” Pence said to CBN.

“Standing at a Christian music festival in Asbury, Kentucky, in the spring of 1978, I gave my life to Jesus Christ and that’s changed everything.”

2. Once Endorsed Ted Cruz for President

Initially during the 2016 Republican primary season, Pence officially endorsed not Trump but rather U.S. Senator Ted Cruz of Texas.

“I’m not against anybody, but I will be voting for Ted Cruz in the Republican primary,” said Pence to WIBC back in April. “Let me be very clear on this race. Whoever wins the Republican nomination for president of the United States, I’m going to work my heart out to get elected this fall.”

Pence’s endorsement of Cruz, however, also came with the Indiana governor speaking highly of Trump and urging primary voters to “make up their own minds” on who to elect.

3. A Pioneer Opponent of Common Core

As Governor of Indiana, Pence is credited with being the first state executive to sign legislation to reverse the controversial Common Core State Standards. In March of 2014, Pence singed Indiana Senate Bill 91, which reversed the Common Core standards adopted four years earlier by the Hoosier state.

“I believe when we reach the end of this process there are going to be many other states around the country that will take a hard look at the way Indiana has taken a step back,” stated Pence.

4. Pro-Life Record

Pence has been known as a staunch supporter of the pro-life movement. While in Congress he championed the effort to defund Planned Parenthood Federation of America.

Earlier this year, Pence signed into law House Enrolled Act 1337, a pro-life bill that banned abortions on the basis of a baby’s race, gender, or potential disability.

When Trump initially stated he supported punishing the mother who sought an abortion, Pence was one of the many pro-lifers to express his disagreement with the idea. “Governor Pence does not agree with the statement made by Donald Trump. As someone who has embraced the pro-life position all of his life, he has a deep compassion for expected mothers and the unborn,” stated Pence’s office in March.

5. Religious Liberty Legislation

While Governor of Indiana, Pence signed into law the state’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act, garnering much backlash from LGBT and progressive groups.

Even though the state RFRA law did not mention the LGBT community at all and was inspired by federal legislation that had been on the books since the 1990s and had bipartisan support, many activists wrongly interpreted it as allowing Christian businesses to deny services to gay people. Pence eventually caved into the pressure, receiving widespread criticism from religious freedom activists.

By any standard, Mike Pence is a reliable conservative, devoutly evangelical in his faith. Whether he will be an effective Vice President remains an open question.

About the Author

Michael Gryboski is a writer for the Christian Post and a featured lecturer on the cultural issues of the day. He has addressed such relevant issues as the legalization of drugs and a biblical perspective on national leadership.

The Rushmore Report: What Trump Just Said to the Black Church

Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump stunned the political world with a speech that went directly to the heart of African-American voters. And afterward, a number of black faith leaders said they were swayed by his comments. By addressing the African-American church, Trump broke new ground. But what did he say that was so “stunning”?

Said Trump: “For centuries, the African-American church has been the conscience of our country. It’s from the pews and pulpits and Christian teachings of black churches all across this land that the civil rights movement lifted up the soul of our nation. The African-American faith community has been one of God’s greatest gifts to America.”

Trump continued, “There is perhaps no action our leaders can take that would do more to heal our country and support our people than to provide a greater platform to the black churches and church-goers. You raise children in the light of God; I will always support your church, always. And defend your right to worship.”

Trump addressed the division in America. “Our nation is too divided. We talk past each other, not to each other. And those who seek office do not do enough to step into the community and learn what is going on. They don’t know. They have no clue.”

But it was Trump’s closing comments that really impressed those who heard him speak. It was a side of Donald Trump that very few have seen on the campaign trail, but those who were on hand said it was a very “genuine moment” for the GOP presidential nominee.

“Now, in these hard times for our country, let us turn again to our Christian heritage to lift up the soul of our nation. I am so deeply grateful to be here today and it is my prayer that the America of tomorrow – and I mean that – that the America of tomorrow will be one of unity, togetherness and peace.”

And then Trump concluded with Scripture. “I’d like to conclude with a passage from 1 John, chapter 4. You know it? See, most groups I speak to don’t know that. But we know it. If you want, we can say it together: ‘No one has ever seen God, but if we love one another, God lives in us and His love is made complete in us.'”

You have to give the man credit. Democrats have been railing against him for months, because he had not addressed an African-American audience. Now, predictably, they are railing against him because he spoke to an African-American audience. Meanwhile, while Trump went to Louisiana to visit flood victims and give them $100,000 of his own money, Hillary Clinton was at a Hollywood fund-raiser that cost $36,000 per plate. And then, Trump accepted the offer of the Mexican president to visit him to discuss relations between the two countries. Trump went. And of course, he was criticized for going – by Mrs. Clinton, who declined the offer so she could raise over $100 million at more fund-raising events.

As for the African-American church, the Louisiana floods, and Mexico. Give Trump credit – at least he showed up. And according to those in church last Sunday, he spread the Good News of God’s Word while he was there.

The Rushmore Report: The Faith of Tim Kaine

Hillary Clinton’s pick for Vice President is very open about practicing his faith and isn’t ashamed to admit it. The Virginia Senator is a practicing Roman Catholic – which you’ll probably hear more about on the campaign trail. According to the Washington Post, Kaine is a regular attendee of a “black church” in Richmond, Virginia, where he is very much at home. Kaine and his wife married at the church and all three of his children have been baptized there. Kaine often takes breaks from politics at church but is also open about talking about how “Catholicism informs his views.”

His Catholicism can be traced back to his childhood where he attended a Jesuit board school and frequently attended mass. A year into law school, Kaine went on a mission trip to Honduras, which, according to his mother, “made him into who he is.” This strong, constant presence of the church in his life seems to ground and center Kaine.

“I do what I do for spiritual reasons,” Kaine told C-SPAN in June. It seems as if there is no denying that Kaine has a strong moral background and is rooted in his religious beliefs and his commitment to make a change for others. Kaine is so religious, in fact, that he has cited the Pope during a discussion about allowing Planned Parenthood to access funding for Zika.

Despite his religious roots, Kaine makes sure that his religion doesn’t fully influence all of his political decisions – as Kaine believes that the state “should not impose a moral view on others,” according to the Daily Beast. He said, in 2008, “I take an oath to uphold the laws of the commonwealth. My church doesn’t make me cross my fingers when I do.”

Kaine’s strong religious background combined with his progressive political beliefs makes him a strong pick for Vice President, according to Democratic insiders. It will be very interesting to hear Kaine speak more about his religious influences on the campaign trail.

About the Author

Casey Suglia is a freelance writer and graduate of Appalachian State University. She is a frequent blogger on current events in American religion and culture.

The Rushmore Report: Is Donald Trump a Christian?

James Dobson, the founder of the renown Colorado-based organization Focus on the Family, asserted last week after gathering with nearly 1,000 evangelical leaders to listen to Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump that he believes Trump is a “baby Christian” who needs to be “cut some slack.”

Dobson was interviewed by Michael Anthony of GodFactor.com, who likewise attended the event held at the Marriott Marquis in Manhattan. Dobson characterized the gathering as “historic” among Christians, and shared his belief that Trump is himself a Christian.

“There are a lot of people ministering to him personally – a lot of ministers,” he stated in the recorded interview. “I mean, he did accept a relationship with Christ. I know the person who led him to Christ, and that’s fairly recent. I don’t know when it was, but it has not been long.”

Dobson continued. “I believe he really made a commitment, but he’s a baby Christian. We all need to be praying for him, especially if there is a possibility of him being our next chief executive officer.”

He said that he believes Trump is open to hearing about the things of God, but that he doesn’t really understand Christianity at the present. “He doesn’t know our language. We had 40 Christians together with him and he used the word ‘hell’ four or five times. He doesn’t know our language. He really doesn’t. He refers a lot to religion and not much to faith in Christ. But you have to cut him some slack. He didn’t grow up like we did.”

Some have expressed concern over Dobson’s assertion, noting that when one is truly born again, although still needing sanctification, they will show definite signs of repentance and change.

“Those who are new Christians will often make mistakes, but I don’t know a single person who truly received Christ and the filling of the Holy Spirit, who didn’t show some immediate change, even if small,” writes Susan Wright for RedState.

She pointed to 1 John 1:6 and 1 John 3:9, the first of which reads, “If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth.”  She said she hasn’t seen any fruit of conversion with Trump.

“So what are our signs that Donald Trump has had a true conversion experience? Has he gone to all those he’s attacked on the campaign trail and apologized for the slander? Will he settle the fraud case hanging over his head? Will he stop dropping the ‘f-bomb’ at rallies, encouraging violence against protesters, or making so much about how much money he has?”

Write continued, “It is damaging to the cause of Christ when the watching world observes Christians pronounce someone as saved when they have not truly been regenerated.”

Speaking of Dobson’s pronouncements about Trump, Write says, “I cannot overstate the danger of Trump’s position now, with those who are known leaders in the faith community, such as Dr. Dobson, willing to vouch for his relationship with God, when there has been no outward evidence of such. The world that is watching and hearing that he is Christian will judge Christianity by what he does and our faith leaders will be seen as promoting it.”

About the Author

Heather Clark is a writer and motivational speaker based in Dallas, Texas. She is a frequent contributor to the Christian News Network.

The Rushmore Report: President Obama’s Faith in His Own Words

Several years ago, a series of interviews with prominent American leaders, focused on their faith, gave birth to the book, The God Factor: Inside the Spiritual Lives of Public People. One of the interviews was conducted with Illinois State Senator Barack Obama at the Café Baci in Chicago on March 27, 2004. This remains his most comprehensive interview on his faith. Here, we will consider some of the most revealing answers Mr. Obama gave to questions about his faith – none of which he has retracted in the 12 years since the interview.

What do you believe?

“I am a Christian. So, I have a deep faith. So I draw from the Christian faith. On the other hand, I was born in Hawaii where obviously there are a lot of Eastern influences. I lived in Indonesia, the largest Muslim country in the world, between the ages of six and ten. My father was from Kenya, and although he was probably most accurately labeled an agnostic, his father was Muslim. And I’d say, intellectually, I’ve drawn as much from Judaism as any other faith.”

What is the road to truth?

“I’m rooted in the Christian tradition. I believe there are many paths to the same place, and that is a belief that there is a higher power. There are values that transcend race or culture.”

Have you always been a Christian?

“I was raised more by my mother and my mother was Christian.”

What denomination were you most influenced by?

“My grandmother was Methodist. My grandfather was Baptist. But my mother, she wasn’t a church lady. We’d go to church on Easter. My mother was deeply spiritual, but I had no structured religious education.”

What church are you a part of now?

“The church I have become involved with is the Trinity United Church of Christ. And the pastor there, Jeremiah Wright, became a good friend. So I joined that church and committed myself to Christ in that church.”

Did you actually go up for an altar call?

“Yes. Absolutely. It was a powerful moment for me because it not only confirmed my faith, it allowed me to connect the work I had been pursuing with my faith.”

When was that?

“1987 or 1988.”

So would you say you were born again?

“Yeah, although I don’t like to think I have a monopoly on the truth or that my faith is automatically transferrable to others. I think religion at its best comes with a big dose of doubt.”

Do you pray often?

“Uh, yeah, I guess I do. It’s not formal, me getting on my knees. I think I have an ongoing conversation with God. I think throughout the day, I’m constantly asking myself questions about what I’m doing, why am I doing it.”

Who is Jesus to you?

“Jesus is a historical figure for me, and he’s also a bridge between God and man, in the Christian faith, and one that I think is powerful precisely because he serves as that means of us reaching something higher. And he’s also a wonderful teacher. I think it’s important for all of us, of whatever faith, to have teachers in the flesh and also teachers in history.”

Is Jesus someone who you feel you have a regular connection with now, a personal connection with in your life?

‘Yeah, yes. I think some of the things I talked about earlier are addressed through, are channeled through my Christian faith and a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.”

Have you read the Bible?

“Absolutely. But I don’t read it as regularly as I would like.”

Do you take time for prayer and meditation each day?

“I’ll be honest with you, I used to all the time, in a fairly disciplined way. But now I don’t . . . just too busy.”

What do you think will happen to the people of the world who aren’t Christians?

“I find it hard to believe that my God would consign four-fifths of the world to hell.”

Do you believe in heaven?

“Do I believe in the harps and clouds and wings?”

A place spiritually you go to after you die.

“What I believe is that if I live my life as well as I can, that I will be rewarded. I don’t presume to have knowledge of what happens after I die.”

Do you believe in sin?

“Yes.”

What is sin?

“Being out of alignment with my values.”

Let’s go back to that moment in 1987 or 1988. Was that moment – the altar call – an epiphany for you?

“No. I think it was just a moment to certify or publicly affirm a growing faith in me.”

 

The Rushmore Report: Hillary’s Faith – In Her Own Words

In a recent town hall meeting, a high school guidance counselor asked Hillary Clinton to explain her faith. Mrs. Clinton took the opportunity to share her views on Christianity and the Bible. These were her words.

Thank you for asking that. I am a person of faith. I am a Christian. I am a Methodist. I have been raised Methodist. I feel very grateful for the instructions and support I received starting in my family but through my church, and I think that any of us who are Christian have a constantly, constant, conversation in our own heads about what we are called to do and how we are asked to do it, and I think it is absolutely appropriate for people to have very strong convictions and also, though, to discuss those with other people of faith. Because different experiences can lead to different conclusions about what is consonant with our faith and how best to exercise it.

The idea you heard on the radio of looking at individuals, I think, is absolutely fair. My study of the Bible, my many conversations with people of faith, has led me to believe the most important commandment is to love the Lord with all your might and to love your neighbor as yourself, and that is what I think we are commanded by Christ to do, and there is so much more in the Bible about taking care of the poor, visiting the prisoners, taking in the stranger, creating opportunities for others to be lifted up, to find faith themselves that I think there are many different ways of exercising your faith. But I do believe that in many areas judgment should be left to God, that being more open, tolerant and respectful is part of what makes me humble about my faith, and I am in awe of people who truly turn the other cheek all the time, who can go that extra mile that we are called to go, who keep finding ways to forgive and move on. Those are really hard things for human beings to do, and there is a lot, certainly in the New Testament, that calls us to do that.

The famous discussion on the Sermon on the Mount should be something that you really pay attention to. There’s a lot of great Bible studies: What does the Sermon on the Mount really mean? What is it calling us to do and to understand? Because it sure does seem to favor the poor and the merciful and those who in worldly terms don’t have a lot but who have the spirit that God recognizes as being at the core of love and salvation.

So there is much to be learned and I have been very disappointed and sorry that Christianity, which has such great love at its core, is sometimes used to condemn so quickly and judge so harshly. When I think part of the message that I certainly have tried to understand and live with is to look at yourself first, to make sure you are being the kind of person you should be in how you are treating others, and I am by no means a perfect person, I will certainly confess that to one and all, but I feel the continuing urge to try to do better, to try to be kinder, to try to be more loving, even with people who are quite harsh.

So, I think you have to keep asking yourself, if you are a person of faith, what is expected of me and am I actually acting the way that I should? And that starts in small ways and goes out in very large ones, but it’s something that I take very seriously. So thank you for asking.

The Rushmore Report: Trump, Evangelicals, and the Elephant in the Room

Do evangelicals support Donald Trump for president, or do they not? It depends on who you ask, and what you ask them. It also depends on who is an evangelical. Or who says, “I’m an evangelical.” It can be rather tricky. There are evangelicals who say, “The only evangelicals who are voting for Donald Trump are inactive evangelicals.” And that’s actually a bit of a myth. I think it’s a way for evangelicals who don’t like Trump to assert that people from their tribe aren’t voting for him.

There’s been a bit of a disappointment among some evangelicals seeing this reported support. Some seem to be coming up with any reason as to why Donald Trump must not really have this kind of support.

The Church Attendance Argument

When you look at it, there is what we call a correlation. The more you go to church as an evangelical, the less likely you  are to vote for Donald Trump. In South Carolina, for instance, much was made over the 34 percent of self-identified evangelicals who voted for Trump. Somehow overlooked is the corresponding fact that 66 percent didn’t vote for him.

Doctoral candidate Matthew MacWilliams has written on the subject of support for Trump among voters he classifies as “authoritarian.” But, among those he might expect to find as Trump supporters there is a clear “soft spot”: Regularly, weekly church attendance – as measured by a standard Pew Research question included in my survey – predicted a statistically significant and substantive opposition to Trump. However, that’s not the whole story.

Trump Leads Among Weekly Church-Going Attendees

In a recent article published in the Washington Post, the title explained, “Where is Trump’s evangelical base? Not in church.” But, according to our surveys, Trump was chosen by more church-going evangelicals than anyone else. In other words, the most frequently chosen candidate of church-going evangelicals was Donald Trump.

Trump’s support declines with church attendance, but he is still the highest among church attendees, which the title of the article might have caused the reader to infer otherwise.

Looking Deeper

Some may assert the exit poll question, “Would you describe yourself as a born-again or evangelical Christian?” is too broad, but that’s what happens when the definition is – for all intents and purposes – undefined or so amorphous as to mean anything. (This lack of clarity is why LifeWay Research and the National Association of Evangelicals sought a more accurate research definition.)

Paul Matzko noted this very thing after the South Carolina primary: “The correlation between church membership and a decreased likelihood of voting for Trump is especially apparent in the Upstate, where people are two or three times more likely to go to church regularly . . . and were half as likely to vote for Trump. There are individual county results that don’t fit the pattern, but there’s a clear line of best fit when you scatter plot the data. Counties with lower church adherence tend to have a higher percentage of Trump supporters.”

So, Which Is It?

There are many self-identified evangelicals who attend church, and another large percentage, also self-identified as evangelical, who don’t. Self-identified evangelicals who don’t go to church regularly are far more likely to vote for Trump than self-identified evangelicals who actually go to church.

There is a both/and here: just as it’s a myth to say all evangelicals are for Trump, it’s also a myth to say that evangelicals are not for Trump. While Trump has often won a plurality of evangelical Republican primary voters, he has not won the majority. On Super Tuesday alone 51 percent of evengelicals voted for either Ted Cruz or Marco Rubio.

So, for those for whom religious faith is important enough (as with regular church goers), Trump does not dominate, but he often leads. Now that we’re down to three candidates in the Republican primary, we could see a shift in which evangelicals go for Cruz (whose faith has been widely mentioned), Trump (whose faith has been questioned), or Kasich (whose faith has just recently received coverage). More exit polling (especially in larger states) may help us see which set of self-identified evangelicals are voting for which candidate.

About the Author

Ed Stetzer is an author, speaker, researcher, pastor, church planter, and Christian missionologist. He is a contributor to the North American discussion on missional church, church planting, and cultural issues.

The Rushmore Report: The Faith of Donald Trump

Donald Trump continues as the front-runner for the Republican nomination for President. We have heard a lot about his wealth, his bravado, and in a few cases, his actual positions. But what we haven’t heard much about is his faith. Though bringing up his Presbyterian faith in the campaign, not much else is widely known about Trump’s religious heritage. This is what we know about the faith of Donald Trump, as first published in The Rushmore Report on September 30, 2015.

1. Donald Trump is a Presbyterian. In 2012, he told the Christian Broadcasting Network, “First Presbyterian Church in Jamaica, Queens, is where I went to church. I’m a Protestant, I’m a Presbyterian. And you know I’ve had a good relationship with the church over the years. I think religion is a wonderful thing, and I think my religion is a wonderful religion.” Trump has also been a member of Marble Collegiate Church, a Reformed Church in America congregation that was once led by Norman Vincent Peale.

2. Trump is a collector of Bibles. In an interview with CNN, Trump said fans often send him Bibles and he keeps every one of them “in a very nice place.” He often gives these Bibles away to individuals and groups in need of Bibles. All of his public comments about Scripture, though few and far between, are positive. He calls the Bible “the Book.”

3. The Donald doesn’t actually attend church very often. When asked how often he attends, he said, “Always on Christmas. Always on Easter. Always when there’s a major occasion.” Then he added, “I’m a Sunday church person.” But when asked where he attends, he frames his response in the past tense: “First Presbyterian is where I went to church,” he acknowledged.

4. Mr. Trump is no fan of Islam. In an interview with Fox News’ Bill O’Reilly, he said there is a “Muslim problem.” He said, “I don’t notice Swedish people knocking down the World Trade Center.” He opposed a mosque being built near the 9-11 site. Questioning President Obama’s birthplace, he pondered, “Maybe he’s a Muslim.” When pressed, he said there are “fabulous Muslims” in the world, but he failed to identify any.

5. Trump claims he’d be a defender of Christianity. In a May interview with CBN, he said, “I will be the greatest representatives of Christians they’ve had in a long time.” Specifically, he was talking about the Christians being slaughtered in the Middle East, especially in Syria. He said Christians around the world don’t have anyone to really represent them, and complained that it is easier for Muslims to enter America than persecuted Christians.

6. He has  praised well-known evangelical leaders. In 2011, Trump declared, “I recently spoke to Ralph Reed and Tony Perkins and I was really impressed. They have great reputations and I have been hearing about them for years.” He added that they were “smart people.” While Trump has famously stood on different sides of many issues, there is no evidence that he has been anti-Christian or anti-evangelical in any way.

7. Donald Trump is pro-life. On this issue, the candidate has evolved. He has a track record of supporting pro-choice candidates, but in January he stated his position as being pro-life. He credits a friend’s experience with not wanting a baby and then adoring that baby as a big reason for his shift. Similarly, he has moved toward a strong position in opposition to same-sex marriage.

8. Trump does not speak of a personal conversion experience. While he has a long record of being a church person, Mr. Trump does not speak openly of a personal relationship with Christ or a time when he became a Christian. There does not seem to be much evidence of Trump having what evangelicals would call a “born again” experience.

In conclusion, Donald Trump considers himself a Christian and is a Presbyterian. He does not seem comfortable talking about his religion or personal faith the way other candidates do, such as Cruz, Fiorina, Rubio, or Huckabee. While Trump does not seem to consult a pastor or religious leader to inform his positions, his public statements are pro-Christianity. Whether he has a dynamic, personal faith, we cannot judge. But if Mr. Trump has a personal conversion experience and a personal, daily walk with Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord, that is something he does not appear to be comfortable sharing with the rest of us.