Mr. Trump, many have noted, is a somewhat clumsy fit within Evangelical circles. His flamboyant Manhattan lifestyle, his ownership of casinos and beauty pageants, and his numerous gaffes have turned many Evangelicals decisively away.
But the candidate has been working to solidify his support from the group that, as a whole, has been the most reliable Republican base for decades. And among those evangelical leaders most supportive of the real estate mogul, many adhere to what is called the “prosperity gospel” or the “health and wealth gospel.” This is the idea that God materially rewards those who are faithful to his commands.
At the end of June, the Trump campaign announced the names of 25 prominent religious leaders serving on his evangelical executive advisory board, which agreed to advise the presumptive Republican nominee on the issues most important to them. These included Jerry Falwell Jr., president of Liberty University; the televangelists Kenneth and Gloria Copeland; and Focus on the Family founder James Dobson.
“It certainly seems that the majority of the evangelical leaders who are supporting him are in the prosperity gospel camp,” says Carter Turner, professor of religious studies at Radford University in Virginia. “And, really, Trump’s brilliant in so many ways, because he’s been forging these relationships with the prosperity people for a long time, knowing that when he ran for president, they were going to be the ones who defended him in front of Evangelicals and defended his wealth.