Donald Trump is not your typical evangelical candidate. In July 2015, about a month after announcing he would run for president, the presumptive Republican nominee said in a Q&A that he believes in God but has never sought forgiveness. Trump has also found himself in the middle of two high-profile divorces and previously expressed pro-choice support.
“He has been married three times, but he’s proven to be a powerful, effective father,” says Mark Burns, a black pastor from small-town South Carolina, in a Time video feature. “He is willing to admit his mistakes but celebrate his children. When I see him, I see the message of grace.”
Burns, who will speak at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, is part of the set of Pentecostal televangelists who preach “prosperity gospel,” or the controversial belief that God wants people to be wealthy and healthy. As Elizabeth Dias writes for Time, these so-called prosperity evangelicals believe Trump’s “economic success is the truest sign of God’s blessing.” Like Trump, they are outsiders who have amassed an unusual amount of support.
While Washington’s evangelical establishment attacks Trump as anti-Christian, racist and misogynist, Trump’s new theological support is coming to the rescue. Prosperity gospel may even force the evangelical base to change its traditional strategy of championing “Biblical social policies,” as Dias writes. In a recent Pew Research poll, Trump held a 61-point lead among white evangelicals over Hillary Clinton.