Christian reactions to Trump's guilty verdict

Former President Donald Trump with his "God Bless the USA" Bible.(Photo: Truth Social)

Several notable Evangelical leaders have reacted to a Manhattan jury's decision to convict former President Donald Trump on all 34 counts of falsifying business records in the case of The People of New York v. Donald J. Trump.

The jury reached their decision Thursday, more than a year after Trump was indicted based on allegations that the Trump campaign paid porn star Stormy Daniels in the weeks leading up to the 2016 presidential election. Trump's former attorney-turned-adversary Michael Cohen testified to the United States House of Representatives in 2019 that his former boss "asked me to pay off an adult film star with whom he had an affair, and lie to his wife about it, which I did."

Cohen presented a House committee with "a copy of the $130,000 wire transfer" he sent to Daniels' attorney "during the closing days of the campaign" so she would "maintain her silence about her affair with Mr. Trump." In 2021, the Federal Election Commission voted not to pursue charges against Trump for violating campaign finance law.

Supporters of Trump have maintained that the charges against the former president related to the so-called "hush money" payments constitute election interference in light of his status as the leading Republican candidate and presumptive opponent of President Joe Biden in the 2024 presidential election, which is just over five months away.

 Here are 10 reactions from high-profile Evangelicals.

1. Rev. Franklin Graham

The Rev. Franklin Graham, CEO of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association and the charitable organization Samaritan's Purse, took to Facebook to opine that "Our country is at a crossroads."

Graham added, "What we saw today has never happened before, and I think for the majority of Americans, it raises questions about whether our legal system can be trusted. Pray for our nation, for God's guiding hands that this republic will be one nation under God with liberty and justice for all."

2. Tony Perkins

Tony Perkins, the president of the Evangelical conservative advocacy group Family Research Council, shared his thoughts on the verdict in an X post Thursday, saying: "Our Republic only thrives when justice is blind, it dies when justice is blinded by politics and power. This is a sad day for our Republic."

3. Jack Graham

Jack Graham, senior pastor of Prestonwood Church in Plano, Texas, delivered a message to his followers on X Thursday. "Everyone take a deep breath, pray and ask God to deliver justice to America after the sham of a trial in NYC," he said. "There is so much at stake including the future of our legal system and the constitution of our nation."

4. Jentezen Franklin

Jentezen Franklin, the senior pastor of Free Chapel in Gainesville, Georgia, doubled down on his support for the former president in a post on X Thursday.

"My prayers are with @RealDonaldTrump. It's a very sad day for this nation," he wrote, recalling that he "met with him a few months ago along with other leaders."

"We prayed, talked for over an hour and he knew this battle would become severe," Franklin added. "I am proud to have known this man and I will continue to be a friend he can count on. I know who I can't wait to vote for on Nov. 5! Get registered to vote time is running out."

The post included a picture of Franklin posing with Trump and another image of religious leaders praying over the former president.

5. Shane Claiborne

While most statements coming from the Evangelical community indicated support for Trump or opposition to the charges against him, Evangelical author Shane Claiborne's reaction to the verdict reflected a different point of view. Claiborne declared in an X post on Friday morning that "No one is beyond redemption, not even Donald Trump."

"It is true that his life currently embodies the 7 deadly sins, but God's grace can transform any human being. There is a path to healing and salvation for Trump if he chooses it. Redemption begins with repentance. And repentance begins with confession. And confession begins with truth. I do not rejoice in anyone's suffering — but I do rejoice in truth and accountability. Because truth sets us free. And sin has consequences."

Claiborne vowed that "I will continue to pray for Trump, that he will know the love of Jesus personally and be transformed by that love."

The pinned post on Claiborne's X account decries "the heresy of Christian nationalism, the cult of Trump" and expresses support for "ending the war, welcoming immigrants, chopping guns [and] abolishing the death penalty."

6. Paula White

Paula White, who served as a spiritual advisor to Trump during his tenure in the White House, described Thursday as "a sad day for all Americans as we watched firsthand the judicial system weaponized to go after President Trump for political gain."

Like Franklin, White shared pictures of spiritual leaders praying over Trump in a post published on the social media platform X on Thursday.

"We the people will stand up against this in November!" she vowed. "May God bless you, my long time friend, President Trump, and may God bless all of us who stand for righteousness!"

7. Ralph Reed

Ralph Reed, founder and chairman of the Evangelical conservative advocacy organization Faith & Freedom Coalition, issued a lengthy statement following the verdict. "Today's verdict was as shameful as it was predictable. The entire process was nakedly partisan from the start, with New York's leftist prosecutor campaigning on taking down President Trump," he said.

"The deck only continued to be stacked as the judge permitted prejudicial testimony, prohibited the defense from offering evidence to counter the prosecution's bogus charges, especially on federal campaign law, and then instructed the jury in a way that all but guaranteed a guilty verdict," Reed added. "No honest observer believes this trial was based on justice or fairness — it was based on hatred for Donald Trump, revenge for his successful conservative presidency, and a desperate desire to derail his campaign."

Insisting that "justice requires that this verdict be appealed," Reed predicted that "it will ultimately be overturned" and that "millions of American voters will respond to this and other politically motivated prosecutions by voting to restore the rule of law on November 5."

8. Mike Johnson

U.S. House Speaker Mike Johnson, R-La., an outspoken Evangelical Christian, released a statement on X proclaiming that "Today is a shameful day in American history." Johnson expressed concern that "Democrats cheered as they convicted the leader of the opposing party on ridiculous charges, predicated on the testimony of a disbarred, convicted felon," referring to Cohen.

"This was a purely political exercise, not a legal one," he asserted. "The weaponization of our justice system has been a hallmark of the Biden administration, and the decision today is further evidence that Democrats will stop at nothing to silence dissent and crush their political opponents. The American people see this as lawfare, and they know it is wrong — and dangerous. President Trump will rightfully appeal this absurd verdict — and he WILL WIN!"

9. Dwight McKissic

Dwight McKissic, the senior pastor of Cornerstone Baptist Church in Arlington, Texas, shared his thoughts about the verdict on X Thursday. "I'm baffled as to the factual basis as to why white evangelicalism feels like an injustice occurred today," he remarked.

McKissic cited the reaction to the verdict as the latest example of how "there are two Americas, and two churches." He pondered whether the "disappointment & disapproval of today's verdict" was based on white Evangelicals' "belief that DJT didn't have sex with SD," if it was "based on a belief that DJT didn't pay $130,000 to cover up his affair so as not to hurst his election chances" or "based on not believing DJT's own recorded words admitting to as such."

10. Michael Wear

Michael Wear, a former adviser to former President Barack Obama, shared McKissic's perspective on the verdict. In a thread published on X Thursday, Wear commented that "Not much surprises me anymore here, but the fact that the nature of the crime does not provoke a minute of hesitation to those defending Trump today is one of those things."

"Isn't the conviction of someone who made a hush money payment to cover up an adulterous affair about as straightforward of a tale of moral comeuppance as one could tell?" he asked.

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