Donald Trump didn’t shy away from courting the Christian vote in the run-up to the presidential election and now that he’s secured his place in the White House, he’s not shying away from leaders of faith either.
First off there is Trump’s wingman, Indiana governor and committed Catholic Mike Pence, who has described himself as “a Christian, a conservative, and a Republican, in that order.”
Although he grew up in a Catholic family, he credits a group of evangelical Christian college friends with his decision to become a born-again Christian while at a Christian music festival in Kentucky. He told reporters: “I gave my life to Jesus Christ and that’s changed everything.” He and his wife Karen are regulars at The College Park Church, North Indianapolis.
Another notable Christian is Trump’s choice for education secretary, billionaire philanthropist Betsy DeVos, who has close ties to the Christian Reformed community in Michigan and has served as an elder at Rob Bell’s previous church, Mars Hill Bible Church in Grand Rapids.
According to the Washington Post, Doug Koopman, a political scientist at Calvin College, the school DeVos attended, doesn’t think she should be categorized as the typical Religious Right evangelical – DeVos actually spoke out against Trump’s candidacy prior to his election.
And he doesn’t expect her to be bogged down with issues like the teaching of evolution and creationism in schools, as some have suggested. Instead, he thinks she will be concerned primarily with how education can serve the common good.
“It would be a mistake to put her in the Religious Right camp. That’s not who she is,” Koopman said.
U.S. Senator (R-Ala.) Jeff Sessions is all set to be the next attorney general, having been an early supporter of Trump during his election campaign. He and wife Mary Blackshear Sessions attend the Ashland Place United Methodist Church, where he is a Sunday school teacher, and he has also been a delegate to the annual Alabama Methodist Conference. Sessions has previously opposed legislation that would grant legal status to illegal immigrants and is supportive of a border wall.
Another high profile Christian in the Trump administration will be the man he beat off to secure the Republican nomination, neurosurgeon Ben Carson, appointed the next secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development. The Seventh-Day Adventist previously said “it’s the relationship with God that’s most important” and says being diagnosed with deepened his faith: “And I just said, ‘Lord, if it’s time for me to go, You know what is best.’ I don’t want to go, but if it’s time, that’s fine, I trust You.’”
Trump’s pick for the Department of Energy is former Texas Governor and staunch religious freedom advocate Rick Perry, who was re-baptized in 2014. While Governor of Texas, Perry and his wife attended the non-denominational Lake Hills Church in Austin. They previously attended Tarrytown United Methodist Church, the same church attended by George W. Bush when he was Texas Governor.
While in office, Perry didn’t shy away from speaking about his Christian faith, equating public office to a call to ministry in a speech in 2012: “I’ve just always been really stunned by how big a pulpit I was going to have. I truly believe with all my heart that God has put me in this place at this time to do his will.”