Donald Trump says Christianity is ‘under siege’

Republican Presidential candidate Donald Trump gestures during a speech at Liberty University in Lynchburg, Va. (AP)

Donald Trump declared himself a defender of besieged Christians in a campaign speech to more than 11,000 people, as the Republican presidential frontrunner openly courted evangelicals two weeks before the first nomination vote.

The 69-year-old billionaire found a receptive audience at Virginia’s Liberty University, an evangelical bastion and a rite of passage for conservative presidential candidates from Ronald Reagan in the 1980s to Ted Cruz, Trump’s main Republican rival.

After a Christian rock band warmed up the crowd, the real estate tycoon stressed his ties with evangelicals, who largely vote for conservatives and play a key role in which candidate ultimately wins the party’s nomination.

But evangelicals also typically back Republicans that are conservative on social issues, an area of weakness for Trump.

The audience at the Vines Center was mostly filled with youths, including students who were excused from class, but also included other supporters.

Many attendees at the event, which was open to the public, wore t-shirts and sweatshirts bearing Trump’s name.

“We’ve done great with the evangelicals. The evangelicals have been amazing,” Trump told the crowd to cheers.

“We’re going to protect Christianity. If you look what’s going on throughout the world - you look at Syria, where if you’re Christian, they’re chopping off heads.”

Trump, who is known more for his multiple wives, extravagant lifestyle and bombastic rhetoric than piety, kept Christianity at the fore as he spoke at the university founded by Southern Baptist pastor Jerry Falwell.

“You look at the different places, and Christianity, it’s under siege,” he said.

“I’m a Protestant, I’m very proud of it, Presbyterian to be exact, but I’m proud of it, very, very proud.”

Last Update: Wednesday, 20 May 2020 KSA 09:46 - GMT 06:46