Gaylord News is a reporting project of the University of Oklahoma Gaylord College of Journalism and Mass Communication

Gaylord News

Gaylord News is a reporting project of the University of Oklahoma Gaylord College of Journalism and Mass Communication

Gaylord News

Gaylord News is a reporting project of the University of Oklahoma Gaylord College of Journalism and Mass Communication

Gaylord News

‘He’s somebody who needs prayer:’ Trump’s connection with evangelical voters remains strong

Tamara Scott, national committeewoman of Iowa’s Republican Party, leads a crowd at a campaign rally for former President Donald Trump in Indianola, Iowa. Peggy Dodd/Gaylord News

INDIANOLA, Iowa – While some pastors across the country have openly endorsed former President Donald Trump in his 2024 campaign, a few are questioning whether their fellow ministers are going too far in throwing their support Trump’s way.

“He needs wisdom, and he definitely needs humility,” said Michael Demastus, executive pastor of the Fort Des Moines Church of Christ.

Christianity is front and center at Trump’s campaign rallies, including at his final stop in Indianola just hours before he easily won the Iowa Republican caucus. Trump received over 50% of the vote in the Iowa GOP caucuses.  

But just 15% of registered Republicans voted in the caucuses, or just over 110,000 of the state’s registered Republicans.  With dangerously cold temperatures affecting turnout, Trump left the state with 7% of Republicans in support of his campaign. 

Just like other Trump rallies, Indianola’s began with a prayer. While other rallies opened with local pastors, national committeewoman of Iowa’s Republican Party Tamara Scott led Trump’s followers in a convocation. 

As Scott spoke, a large portion of the attendees bowed their heads in prayer, with an “amen” echoing across the room at its conclusion. 

Before Trump came on stage, Ohio Rep. Jim Jordan spoke of Trump’s political achievements and offered commentary on his favorite bible verse. “God Bless the USA” played over speakers as the former president entered the stage to deliver his nearly 2 hour-long speech. 

However, while people waited for Trump, a video that sparked some controversy within Iowa’s pastoral community was shown on two large screens. The video, titled “God Made Trump,” includes a monologue saying God directly created Trump to become president. 

Demastus said some pastors found the video distasteful. 

“That whole messianic, seemingly narcissistic view, that’s bothersome,” Demastus said. “Trump is not a Messiah; he is not anointed by God. He is a political leader, and he’s somebody that needs prayer.”   

The issues that draw evangelical voters to the polls are abortion, religious liberty, matters regarding transgender rights and marriage equality and free speech, Demastus said. 

Demastus said in 2016 he fully supported Sen. Ted Cruz but ended up voting for Trump in the general election. Trump won Demastus over during his presidency with moves like appointing three conservative justices to the Supreme Court — leading to the overturning of abortion protections under Roe v. Wade — and moving the U.S. embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. 

The 2024 race is a different time, according to Demastus. 

“Trump has made comments that have caused many evangelicals to, at the minimum, scratch their heads and wonder why,” Demastus said. 

For Dick Green, pastor of His Healing Hands Ministry in Brighton, Trump always had and always will have his vote. Green was asked to deliver the convocation at Trump’s rally in Newton, which he called an answered prayer. Green disagrees that supporters think Trump is a Messiah.

“We all believe that God is the one who can change all of this in the first place,” Green said. “Donald Trump just happens to be a tool that he’s using.”

The issues that draw Green to the polls are abortion and First Amendment rights. Green wasn’t always a Republican but first voted for one when Ronald Reagan was running for president. Since the Reagan presidency, Green said he hadn’t seen God in the White House until Trump. 

Green was originally drawn to Trump because he said was what the minister wanted to hear from a politician. Green also admired Trump’s business knowledge and career. Over his political career, Green believes Trump has gotten closer to God.

“(Trump) talks to (God), he listens to him,” Green said. “I believe the man was actually anointed for this particular job for this particular time.”

Other religious figures in Iowa, like Bob Vander Plaats of the Family Leader, endorsed other candidates like Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis. Vander Plaats is a well-known evangelical in Iowa with an involvement in politics, often giving endorsements during the Iowa caucuses and unsuccessfully running for governor of Iowa three times.

In 2016, Vander Plaats endorsed Ted Cruz in the Republican caucus. Four years earlier, he endorsed Rick Santorum. In 2008, he served as Iowa state chair for former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee’s failed campaign. All three won the Iowa caucus during their campaigns for president. 

Both Demastus and Green said they didn’t see the Vander Plaats endorsement make a split in the evangelical community. 

Demastus said there’s one side of evangelicals that is frustrated and experiencing what he calls “Trump fatigue,” but there will always be a side of the evangelical community that supports Trump.

“They’re just there come hell or high water, they’re gonna be with him,” Demastus said. 

The attachment to Trump comes from the change many evangelicals feel Trump brought to Washington, according to Demastus. He said evangelicals appreciated Trump pushing back against the media and promoting a conservative agenda and see him as a champion. 

However, Demastus said he has a pause on Trump while weighing his political achievements, character and the way he speaks. While not endorsing or regularly supporting anyone this election cycle, Demastus said he thinks people will rally behind Trump should he be the party’s nominee. 

Green is one of those faithful Trump supporters. He encourages his congregation to vote for Trump at the pulpit,. Green said he is completely loyal to Trump, and there is no way he couldn’t vote for him. 

“No,” Green said. “That’s it. Nothing could happen, not a thing.” 

Gaylord News is a reporting project of the University of Oklahoma Gaylord College of Journalism and Mass Communication.  For more stories by Gaylord News go to


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