Religious Conservatives Cheer Trump at Conference

June 06, 2011

Ethic Daily ran my latest article today, which is entitled "Religious Conservatives Cheer Trump at Conference." It covers the enthusiastic welcome Donald Trump received over the weekend at the second annual conference of the Faith & Freedom Coalition, which was started by former Christian Coalition leader Ralph Reed. Despite his divorces and casino business, Trump was the star of the conservative Christian event (the photo is one I took of him during his speech at the event).

In addition to Trump, the weekend drew most of the 2012 Republican presidential hopefuls, including Michele Bachmann, Herman Cain, Jon Huntsman, Ron Paul, Tim Pawlenty, Mitt Romney, and Rick Santorum. The fact that all of these candidates came to the event shows that our age of confessional politics is still going strong. The only major candidate to skip the event was Newt Gingrich (who was originally on the schedule), which was odd since Newt has been working to woo conservative evangelicals. One of the candidates who did attend, Santorum, officially announced his presidential run today. As I noted earlier (see post here), Santorum articulates many of the confessional political arguments as he frames himself as the anti-JFK candidate. Additionally, dozens of Republican congressional leaders attended the event. Two particularly interesting confessional moments occurred during the event. Former U.S. Senator George Allen (R-VA), who is seeking to win back his old Senate seat next year, opened up about calling someone a racial slur during the 2006 campaign (an incident which cost him the close race). Although Allen has defended himself in the past, at this event he admitted "I never should have singled out that young man working for my opponent calling him a name" and "I was wrong to do that to him." He talked about how he had learned from that experience, as well as learning that same year that his mother was Jewish. The other confessional moment came at the start of Trump's speech (and is mentioned in my article). He started by showing the picture of his confirmation class at his childhood Presbyterian church, as if he needed to prove his religious credentials. Below is the video of that moment. I also captured a couple of other videos: Trump walking by in the hallway while straightening his tie (here), Jon Huntsman talking to reporters about Chinese cyber attacks (here), Representative Mike Pence (R-IN) talking to reporters but refusing to say if any Republican presidential candidates were not good enough for social conservatives (here), and Representative Tom Price (R-GA) talking to reporters about how Republicans were actually saving Medicare while Democrats were destroying it (here).