Evangelical leader urges Trump to fire campaign manager accused of battery

Corey Lewandowski is seen allegedly grabbing the arm of reporter Michelle Fields in this still frame from a video.Reuters

An evangelical leader has called for Donald Trump to fire his campaign manager, who has been charged with battery in Florida over an incident involving a reporter.

Police in Jupiter, Florida, charged Corey Lewandowski, 42, with intentionally grabbing and bruising the arm of Michelle Fields, then a reporter for the conservative news outlet Breitbart, when she tried to question Trump at a campaign event on March 8.

At a meeting on Tuesday night, Trump said he would remain loyal to his campaign manager and that Lewandowski would remain on the job even though it might be more convenient on behalf of his campaign to "terminate this man, ruin his life, ruin his family... ruin his whole everything and say: 'You're fired.'"

Trump has so far played well with self-identified evangelical voters. However, in a sign his pugnacious and unapologetic style of campaigning is not appealing to all of them, a prominent evangelical leader has called for Lewandowski's firing.

Director of the highly conservative Christian Defense Coalition Rev Patrick Mahoney said: "The evangelical community is far more committed to integrity, truthfulness, justice and treating everyone with dignity and respect than it is in just making America great again.

"Donald Trump needs to understand if he wants to 'Make America Great Again' he needs to embrace the values that evangelicals cherish and embrace. Those values are not rooted in political slogans but in the eternal teachings of the Scriptures and of Christ. "

He said Trump's response to the Lewandoski charge "stands in stark contradiction to those timeless values" and that Lewandowski's behaviour "shows a pattern from this campaign of a profound disrespect for the integrity of women. That is certainly not something evangelicals are comfortable with or support."

Both of Trump's rivals for the nomination, Ted Cruz and John Kasich, have also called for Lewandowski's sacking.