James Dobson didn’t realize his off-the-cuff remarks about Donald Trump’s faith would set off so many questions about the Republican candidate’s alleged recommitment to Christ.
The former Focus on the Family leader, who has endorsed Trump, publicly addressed the situation for the first time in a letter sent to followers today, stating he “didn’t waffle on anything” when he had to clarify that he didn’t know the exact details of Trump’s relationship with Jesus.
Dobson explained what happened following the June gathering of 1,000 evangelical leaders at Trump Tower in New York:
I talked that day to what seemed like 500 people in a 15-hour period ending at 11:30 p.m. One of those well-wishers was carrying a recording device, and he suddenly appeared before me and held a microphone in my face. He asked for my impressions from the day.I spoke candidly for about 20 seconds, as I recall. Then he disappeared. By the next morning, millions of people were talking about my saying I had heard during the day that a minister had led Donald Trump to a relationship with Christ. I didn’t elaborate because I said all I knew.
The man with the recorder was Pennsylvania pastor Michael Anthony, and Dobson told him that Trump “did accept a relationship with Christ” and “really made a commitment, but he’s a baby Christian.”
Trump, whose awkward referrals to Jesus as “somebody I can revere in terms of bravery” and communion as “my little wine … and my little cracker” have made evangelicals cringe, describes himself as a Presbyterian who goes to church “when I can.” Few Americans consider Trump to be very religious, according to the Pew Research Center.
Some of the mainstream media jumped on Dobson’s comments, leading him to point to controversial televangelist Paula White as the source of the potential “born again” incident. In an interview with Trump, Mike Huckabee also referred to the close relationship between White and Trump, calling her his “spiritual counselor and advisor.”