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Faith leaders say Trump has accepted Jesus Christ – just months before Election Day

By Emily McFarlan Miller/Religion News Service
On June 30, 2016

Donald Trump has described himself as “Presbyterian and Protestant,” a “Sunday church person” and a collector of Bibles.

Now, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee reportedly can add “born-again Christian” to that list, according to one of the members of Trump’s new evangelical advisory board.

Trump recently accepted a relationship with Jesus Christ as his Savior, making him a “baby Christian,” Focus on the Family founder James Dobson said last week.

“He did accept a relationship with Christ. I know the person who led him to Christ, and that’s fairly recent. … I believe he really made a commitment, but he’s a baby Christian,” said Dobson.

Trump Campaign Chairman Paul Manafort declined to comment on the report Sunday on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” saying, “I’m not going to speak to Donald Trump and his embrace of religion. You’ll have to talk to him about that.”

Trump himself has not spoken about a born-again experience or a new personal relationship with Christ.

Dobson told Anthony that Trump “doesn’t know our language,” noting the candidate spoke during the meeting about “religion,” but not “faith” and “belief.” Other words the candidate never used, according to transcripts: “Jesus,” “pray,” “Christ” and “Bible.”

“You gotta’ cut him some slack. He didn’t grow up like we did,” said Dobson.

Anthony responded with an allusion to the original “Damascus Road” conversion in the New Testament book of Acts. The Apostle Paul, then called Saul, had violently persecuted Christians before he encountered Jesus along the road to Damascus.

“I’m sure Saul, when he became Paul, didn’t know much of the language either,” he said.

Other Christians have responded on social media to the news of Trump’s reported come-to-Jesus moment with somewhat less enthusiasm.

Popular Christian author and blogger Rachel Held Evans put it bluntly in a tweet: “Oh give me a break. Donald Trump hasn’t been born again. The Religious Right has simply sold out.”

Evans pointed to the second chapter of James, which, among other things, includes the admonition “faith without deeds is dead.”

And in a blog post about Dobson’s statement, John Fea, chair of the history department at Messiah College in Grantham, Pennsylvania, called Trump’s meeting with evangelicals “the theo-political equivalent of money laundering.”

“Dobson and his gang are making Trump clean so that he is worthy of evangelical votes,” said Fea.

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