According to the Washington Post'sSarah Pulliam Bailey, Julie Zauzmer and Josh Dawsey, Trump created an evangelical advisory board, rather than an "ecumenical faith advisory council." Multiple well-known evangelicals have vouched for the president's faith, such as Rev. Franklin Graham and Johnnie Moore, who both serve on his advisory board. Per the Washington Post:
“I think there’s no question he believes,” said the Rev. Franklin Graham, who has followed in the footsteps of his father, Billy Graham, as a faith adviser in the White House. Graham said he believes Trump has had a conversion moment, but he doesn’t know when it might have happened.
“I absolutely believe he’s a born-again Christian,” Moore said. “I see it in things he’s said publicly and privately. I’ve seen it in his desire to stand up for what he believes is right."
A common criticism of Trump's faith is that he is putting on a show in order to secure the evangelical Christian vote. In the Washington Post, Bailey, Zauzmer and Dawsey add:
Most of Trump’s current relationships with evangelical pastors, particularly with believers in Pentecostal, charismatic and prosperity gospel strains of Christianity, appear to have developed only as he considered running for president.
According to Pew Research, "half of U.S. adults either say they’re not sure what Trump’s religion is...or that he has no religion." In addition:
And Americans overall don’t think Trump is particularly religious: A majority say Trump is “not too” (23%) or “not at all” (40%) religious, while 28% say he’s “somewhat” religious and only 7% say he’s “very religious,” according to a new Pew Research Center survey.
After addressing the nationwide protests that have erupted after the murder of George Floyd—which have notably since been made violent by police—on Monday, June 1, Trump walked to the nearby St. John's Episcopal Church to take a photo holding up a bible.
The public was horrified to learn Washington D.C. police fired tear gas and flash-bang explosions on the peaceful crowd gathered in front of the church moments before Trump's walk and during his national address. The act was called out by protestors, journalists and faith leaders alike. As CNN's Daniel Burke puts it:
To many Christians, even conservatives ones, Monday's stunt was surreal, even sacrilegious. "Blasphemy in real time," one bishop tweeted.
After the event, Bishop Mariann Edgar Budde of the Episcopal Diocese of Washington spoke out, saying she had no idea Trump planned to pose for a photo outside the church and was "outraged" by the forceful actions taken on American citizens to make it possible. The following day, Trump faced another rebuke from Catholic Archbishop Wilton Daniel Gregory after visiting a Catholic monument to St. John Paul II. Per the New York Times' Michael Crowley and Elizabeth Dias:
And on Tuesday, as Mr. Trump prepared to visit the Saint John Paul II National Shrine, a few miles from St. John’s, Archbishop Wilton Gregory, the Catholic archbishop of Washington, denounced the event in similar terms, calling it “baffling and reprehensible.”
Still, some Christians identify with Trump's apparent search for faith-based reassurance during crisis. The Guardian's Matthew Teague shares the perspective of Benjamin Horbowy, a Trump supporter who lives in Tallahassee, Florida, when
Horbowy already supported Trump politically – he heads the local chapter of a pro- Trump motorcycle club and is campaigning for a seat in Florida’s state senate – but when Trump lifted the Bible, Horbowy and his family felt overcome spiritually.
“My mother started crying. She comes from Pentecostal background, and she started speaking in tongues. I haven’t heard her speak in tongues in years,” he said....