Op-ed: Campaign conversion?

  • By Cal Thomas
  • Saturday, July 2, 2016 4:12pm
  • Opinion

Following a meeting between a group of evangelical leaders and Donald Trump last week, Dr. James Dobson, founder of Focus on the Family, was interviewed by Pennsylvania pastor Michael Anthony. Dobson told Anthony that Trump had recently come “to accept a relationship with Christ” and is now a “baby Christian.”

Dobson was vague about the details of Trump’s supposed religious conversion, telling Anthony that while he knows the person responsible for “leading” Trump to Jesus, he would not name the person and couldn’t specify the time or place. “I don’t know when it was,” said Dobson, “but it has not been long.”

If it occurred, it must have been within the last three weeks. Here is a transcript of what Trump told me he believed about Jesus in a June 6 interview I conducted with him:

“CT: Every president has called upon God at some point. Lincoln spoke of not being able to hold the office of the presidency without spending time on his knees. You have confessed that you are a Christian…

DT: And I have also won much evangelical support.

CT: Yes, I know that. You have said you never felt the need to ask for God’s forgiveness, and yet repentance for one’s sins is a precondition to salvation. I ask you the question Jesus asked of Peter: Who do you say He is?

DT: I will be asking for forgiveness, but hopefully I won’t have to be asking for much forgiveness. As you know, I am Presbyterian and Protestant. I’ve had great relationships and developed even greater relationships with ministers. We have tremendous support from the clergy. I think I will be doing very well during the election with evangelicals and with Christians. In the Middle East — and this is prior to the migration — you had almost no chance of coming into the United States. Christians from Syria, of which there were many, many of their heads … chopped off. If you were a Muslim from Syria, it was one of the easiest places to come in (to the U.S.). I thought that was deplorable. I’m going to treat my religion, which is Christian, with great respect and care.

CT: Who do you say Jesus is?

DT: Jesus to me is somebody I can think about for security and confidence. Somebody I can revere in terms of bravery and in terms of courage and, because I consider the Christian religion so important, somebody I can totally rely on in my own mind.”

No one can fully know what is in another person’s heart, but this is not the language most evangelicals would consider as evidence of a religious conversion.

In his classic book “Mere Christianity,” C.S. Lewis had this to say about people who call Jesus of Nazareth by something other than what He called Himself: “A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic — on the level with a man who says he is a poached egg — or he would be the Devil of Hell. You must take your choice. Either this was, and is, the Son of God, or else a madman or something worse. You can shut him up for a fool or you can fall at his feet and call him Lord and God. But let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about his being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us.”

It is a strange thing when evangelicals divide their loyalty, hoping for an earthly “deliverer” as if any politician, or businessman, could save the country from its collective sins. They project their faith on many who do not share it and approve of that faith only in Republicans, never in Democrats, some of whom demonstrate more knowledge of Scripture and practice its teachings better than some Republicans.

Think of it this way. If you are about to have surgery, wouldn’t you want the most competent doctor you can find regardless of his faith? That should also be the standard for electing a president.

Readers may email Cal Thomas at tcaeditors@tribpub.com.

More in Opinion

An array of stickers awaits voters on Election Day 2022. (Clarise Larson / Juneau Empire file photo)
Opinion: The case for keeping the parties from controlling our elections

Neither party is about to admit that the primary system they control serves the country poorly

Voters fill out their ballots at the Challenger Learning Center in Kenai, Alaska on Election Day, Nov. 8, 2022. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
Voter tidbit: Important information about voting in the upcoming elections

Mark your calendar now for these upcoming election dates!

Larry Persily (Juneau Empire file photo)
Opinion: State’s ‘what if’ lawsuit doesn’t much add up

The state’s latest legal endeavor came July 2 in a dubious lawsuit — with a few errors and omissions for poor measure

The entrance to the Homer Electric Association office is seen here in Kenai, Alaska, on May 7, 2020. (Photo by Brian Mazurek/Peninsula Clarion file)
Opinion: Speak up on net metering program

The program allows members to install and use certain types of renewable generation to offset monthly electric usage and sell excess power to HEA

Gov. Mike Dunleavy signs bills for the state’s 2025 fiscal year budget during a private ceremony in Anchorage on Thursday, June 25, 2024. (Official photo from The Office of the Governor)
Alaska’s ‘say yes to everything’ governor is saying ‘no’ to a lot of things

For the governor’s purposes, “everything” can pretty much be defined as all industrial development

Alaska Permanent Fund Corp. board members, staff and advisors meet Oct. 30, 2023. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire file photo)
Opinion: The concerns of reasonable Alaskans isn’t ‘noise’

During a legislative hearing on Monday, CEO Deven Mitchell referred to controversy it’s created as “noise.”

(Juneau Empire file photo)
Opinion: Crime pays a lot better than newspapers

I used to think that publishing a quality paper, full of accurate, informative and entertaining news would produce enough revenue to pay the bills

Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire file photo
Lt. Gov. Nancy Dahlstrom addresses the crowd during an inaugural celebration for her and Gov. Mike Dunleavy at Elizabeth Peratrovich Hall on Jan. 20, 2023.
Opinion: The many truths Dahlstrom will deny

Real conservatives wouldn’t be trashing the rule of law

Gov. Mike Dunleavy discusses his veto of a wide-ranging education bill during a press conference March 16 at the Alaska State Capitol. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire file photo)
Governor, please pay more attention to Alaskans

Our governor has been a busy guy on big issues.

Priya Helweg is the acting regional director and executive officer for the Region 10 Office of Intergovernmental and External Affairs, Office of the Secretary, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (Photo courtesy U.S. Department of Health and Human Services)
Happy Pride Month

This month is dedicated to acknowledging and uplifting the voices and experiences of the LGBTQI+ community

A roll of “I voted” stickers sit at the Alaska Division of Elections office in Juneau in 2022. (Ben Hohenstatt / Juneau Empire File)
Strengthening democracy: Native vote partners to boost voter registration

GOTNV and VPC are partnering to send over 4,000 voter registration applications this month to addresses and P.O. boxes all over Alaska

Hiroko Masuike/The New York Times
Former President Donald Trump arrives at Trump Tower after he was found guilty of all counts in his criminal trial in New York on May 30.
Opinion: Trump’s new fixers

Fixers from Alaska and elsewhere step in after guilty verdict