Holy Rallyers: President Trump Comes To Miami For Event With Evangelicals
In his speech, Trump also spoke out against abortion and in favor of pro-life policies and other conservative Christian agenda issues such as prayer in schools and on college campuses. His address included a personal assurance for his evangelical audience: "I really do believe we have God on our side."
Trump touted his border wall but otherwise did not mention the hot-button immigration issue - though it was definitely on the minds of many protesters outside the church, including Venezuela native Carol Quintero. She's a U.S. citizen who said her husband is being detained on a 2004 deportation order.
"Trump is two-faced," Quintero said. "He says he's helping Venezuelans but he's detaining Venezuelans who arrive here and giving them deportation orders."
At a Spanish-language service last Sunday, King Jesus pastor Guillermo Maldonado told undocumented immigrants in his heavily Latino congregation that they shouldn't fear coming to the Friday rally in spite of Trump's hardline immigration policies.
Trump launched his speech at the rally by touting the U.S. drone strike he ordered Thursday in Iraq that killed Iran's top military commander, Major General Qassim Suleimani - who was believed the mastermind of recent militia attacks on U.S. targets in the Middle East as well as other Iran-backed terrorist activity in the region.
"Suleimani has been killed and his bloody rampage is now forever gone," Trump said as he took the stage at the King Jesus Ministry megachurch in West Kendall after huddling with faith leaders - who had earlier blessed him with outstretched arms. "He was plotting [more] attacks on Americans, but we've now insured his atrocities have been stopped for good."
As the Trump-and-Evangelicals rally was getting underway inside the King Jesus megachurch, anti-Trump protests were revving up outside. One, sponsored by the activist groups Broward for Progress and Women's March Miami, featured candles, flashlights and phone lights being lit at sundown to "shine a light" on what the protesters called the President's "immoral and unethical activities."
The protesters, however, were amply outnumbered by Trump supporters.
At the rally, scheduled to begin at 5 p.m., conservative Christians were expected to announce a more formal "Evangelicals for Trump" coalition - largely in angry opposition to a recent and stunning editorial in the prominent evangelical magazine Christianity Todaythat called for the impeached President Trump's removal for office and criticized Evangelicals who back him.
Not surprisingly in Miami, many of the Trump supporters waiting to enter the King Jesus church for the rally were Latinos. South Florida resident and cosmetics saleswoman Marilyn Enjamio, a Cuba native who came to the U.S. at age six, said Trump "represents the flag and everything we love." She added Trump "reminds me of my dad...a very successful businessman [who] has created a lot of jobs."
Martha Ruiz, a Venezuela native, waved both U.S. and Venezuelan flags in front of a "Trump Train" van. She supports Trump in no small part because of his ongoing (albeit seemingly stalled) efforts to oust Venezuela's authoritarian socialist regime. "I am here at the rally because of the political situation my [home] country is living in," Ruiz said in Spanish, "and because he still wants to help us." She added that both her sons are in the U.S. Air Force.
The rally President Trump was set to arrive at late Friday afternoon in Miami may have been hosted by Evangelicals - at a West Kendall megachurch called Ministerio El Rey Jesús, or King Jesus Ministry - but commerce was prominent outside the sanctuary, which holds about 7,000 people.
Terry Lackey came over from Tampa to sell Trump hats and T-shirts and promote "four more years of Trump," he said. "That's what it's all about." Lackey's best-seller at King Jesus: a black baseball hat that reads "Re-elect President Trump" and the message "Make the Liberals Cry Again."
Sergio Fernandez was feeling flush too: He does the printing for the King Jesus church, where he attends services regularly, and gushed: "I love how [Trump] helps small businesses" like his - especially this week.
Patricia Velez was in line to enter the church with her husband Roger and said she was feeling especially pumped up after Thursday night's Trump-ordered U.S. military drone strike at the Baghdad airport in Iraq that killed Iran's top military commander, Major General Qassim Suleimani.
"We finally have somebody that stands up and does something instead of sitting back and watching them do things to us and getting away with it," said Velez, who's been a Trump fan since she read his book "The Art of the Deal" years before he became President.
"I've been dying to be able to see him in person and come to one of his rallies."
Plantation resident Francisco Morales wanted to come to the rally as well - but to protest Trump. A native Guatemalan, he objects to the President's anti-immigration policies and controversial personal conduct; and he added, taking aim at Trump's conservative Evangelcal support: "I'm Christian and you know, I believe the Christian church has gone too far from the values and has turned into a political game. They're just endorsing someone that is totally against what Jesus stood for."
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