Trump courts Christian vote with big promises at rally featuring bizarre "shirt off" remark

Washington DC - Donald Trump urged evangelical Christians Saturday to vote en masse for him in November, vowing to "aggressively" protect their religious freedom if he is elected.

Donald Trump addressed supporters at a conference organized by the Faith and Freedom Coalition on Saturday.
Donald Trump addressed supporters at a conference organized by the Faith and Freedom Coalition on Saturday.  © REUTERS

The ex-leader, who rarely appears in church himself, has built a crucial base among the religious right, promising – and delivering – on some of their biggest priorities, including by appointing Supreme Court justices who helped overturn the federal right to abortion.

"The evangelicals and the Christians, they don't vote as much as they should," Trump told hundreds of supporters at a Washington conference put on by the Faith and Freedom Coalition, a conservative advocacy group.

"They go to church every Sunday, but they don't vote," he said, adding in a half-joke that "in four years, you don't have to vote. Okay? In four years, don't vote. I don't care."

Trump launches vicious attacks on George Clooney and Nancy Pelosi amid Biden crisis
Donald Trump Trump launches vicious attacks on George Clooney and Nancy Pelosi amid Biden crisis

If elected, Trump would be ineligible to run for president again in 2028 because of term limits.

Trump says he has "taken a lot of wounds"

Trump claimed he had "taken a lot of wounds" in order to defend religious freedoms.
Trump claimed he had "taken a lot of wounds" in order to defend religious freedoms.  © REUTERS

Evangelical voters were crucial for Trump's 2016 victory and again in his failed 2020 campaign, when 84% of white evangelical Protestants voted for him, according to the Pew Research Center.

Trump promised to protect their interests Saturday, as he vowed to "aggressively defend religious freedom."

"We will protect Christians in our schools, in our military, in our government, in our workplaces, in our hospitals, and in our public square," he told supporters.

Far-right Hungarian PM Orban gushes over Trump after Mar-a-Lago meeting: "He's going to solve it!"
Donald Trump Far-right Hungarian PM Orban gushes over Trump after Mar-a-Lago meeting: "He's going to solve it!"

The former president claimed that he had "stood up to the communists, Marxists, and fascists to defend religious liberty like no other president has ever done."

"If I took this shirt off, you'd see a beautiful, beautiful person. But you'd see wounds all over, all over me, I've taken a lot of wounds," Trump said.

He again refused to commit to a national abortion ban or restrictions despite pressure from right-wing groups, telling supporters it is instead up to states to individually decide.

Trump did promise to create "a new federal task force on fighting anti-Christian bias" that would investigate supposed "illegal discrimination, harassment, persecution" of Christians in the US – a supposed phenomenon for which there is no evidence.

Cover photo: REUTERS

More on Donald Trump: