During Donald Trump’s convocation speech at Liberty University in January, he read notes written out for him by Tony Perkins who is the president of the Family Research Center.
Trying to woo evangelicals, Trump declared that Christianity is under siege and quoted a Bible verse written in the aforementioned notes. The problem was it read 2 Corinthians 3:17.
"We're going to protect Christianity. I can say that. I don't have to be politically correct...Two Corinthians, 3:17, that's the whole ballgame...is that the one you like?" Trump asked, drawing laughter from the crowd of students who knew Trump was attempting to refer to "Second Corinthians." He was still able to draw applause by reading the verse, “Where the Lord is, there is liberty.” That specific verse is prominently displayed throughout Liberty’s campus. Of course, the pundit class had a field day with Trump’s “stumble”.
His boastful claims that he will build a wall and have Mexico pay for it or the more incendiary comment wherein Trump called for “a total and complete shutdown” of Muslims entering the United States prompted Pope Francis to say the following, “A person who thinks only about building walls, wherever they may be, and not of building bridges, is not Christian. This is not the gospel. As far as what you said about whether I would advise to vote or not to vote, I am not going to get involved in that. I say only that this is man is not Christian if he has said things like that. We must see if he said things in that way and I will give him the benefit of the doubt.”
Immediately after the pope's comments were made public Trump responded, "For a religious leader to question a person's faith is disgraceful. I am proud to be a Christian and as President I will not allow Christianity to be consistently attacked and weakened, unlike what is happening now, with our current President. No leader, especially a religious leader, should have the right to question another man's religion or faith."
He went further, saying, "If and when the Vatican is attacked by ISIS, which as everyone knows is ISIS's ultimate trophy, I can promise you that the Pope would have only wished and prayed that Donald Trump would have been President because this would not have happened."
The businessman said that Francis had "only heard one side of the story" and hadn't seen the crime, drug trafficking, and negative economic impacts on the US. He also slammed the Mexican government, saying they are "using the Pope as a pawn and they should be ashamed of themselves for doing so."
Mollie Hemingway, opining at The Federalist believes that the Vicar of Christ’s “straw man” approach didn’t help to convey his message.
“There is absolutely no question that Christians are called to love our neighbors as ourselves. How we manifest that love when it comes to others is actually open to some debate. Consider how you manage your own home. If you’re Christian, you should believe in caring for those who are impoverished. Very few would argue, though, that this means you must open your home to everyone who seeks shelter. Prudence is also a virtue that helps guide the Christian. This is complicated even more when you deal with the reality that the United States might be inhabited mostly by Christians but does not set policy according to the New Testament.”
“There is an entire book of the Old Testament about a godly man who is called to Jerusalem to build a wall around it. There are walls around portions of various cities, including the Vatican and Jerusalem. There are walls around our dwelling places. And there are even metaphorical walls that enable us to have healthy relationships. So no one thinks “only” about walls and walls aren’t even necessarily bad, Biblically speaking.”