Trump pledges bigger voice for religious voters

"I got the evangelicals", he boasted Friday.

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump addressed socially conservative attendees Friday afternoon (Sept. 9) at the Values Voter Summit, an annual political conference in Washington, D.C. The group's members hold strong anti-abortion and anti-same-sex marriage stances.

As he closed his speech, Trump announced he would go to St. Louis Saturday for the funeral of conservative icon Phyllis Schlafly, who died last week at age 92 and who many say played a key role in stopping passage of the Equal Rights Amendment for women's equality.

"Crime, no jobs, education is the worst".

Speaking from teleprompters, it served as a pointed contrast to his speech a year ago which seemed to focus on the importance of saying "Merry Christmas" instead of "Happy Holidays".

A Pew Research poll in July found that 78 percent of self-identified white evangelicals plan to vote for Trump in November but that half of the respondents weren't satisfied with their ballot options.

"How many of you would like the church of Jesus Christ to wake up?" the Benham brothers asked a packed audience. Not mentioned was Trump's own refugee policy, which would be a blanket ban on anyone from the region entering the United States. Given Trump's boorish behavior, naughty language, womanizing, and past deep associations with liberal Hollywood and Democratic Party figures, it seemed only natural that evangelicals would grow to loathe Trump.

Trump also vowed to repeal the Johnson Amendment-a change in the US tax code proposed by then-Senator Lyndon B. Johnson, which prohibits tax-exempt organizations from endorsing a political candidate.

"And Hillary Clinton, you can forget about her". The room exploded in applause and one attendee could be seen waving his tricorne hat in support. Even the far-right John Birch Society had a table in the group's exhibition hall.

Trump is pushing for the end of a 1950's era law prohibiting religious non-profits from endorsing candidates and warning against Supreme Court justices nominated by Democrat Hillary Clinton.

"Such a great actor [and] person", Trump said.

"ISIS is hunting down and exterminating what it calls the nation of the cross", Trump said.

Trump said she had endorsed him when "it was not the thing to do".

Republican National Committee chairman Reince Priebus warned that Americans' religious liberties were under siege, and he applauded conservatives' efforts to "take back our country for freedom and American values".

However, many are still nervous about Trump, concerned about his beliefs on social issues such as gay rights, his bombastic persona and the personal lifestyle of the thrice-married, twice-divorced NY real estate mogul and former reality-television host.

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