A new CNN report on President Donald Trump’s fraught relationship to Christianity reveals that the president may be unwelcome in his childhood church in Queens — and that the son of the last religious leader he was close to has publicly renounced him.
According to the report by journalist MJ Lee, the evolution of Trump’s quasi-Christianity took him from First Presbyterian Church in Jamaica, Queens, where he was raised and confirmed, to Marble Collegiate Church in Manhattan.
Although Trump was close to Marble’s former reverend and author of the bestselling self-help book “Power of Positive Thinking” Norman Vincent Peale, the late pastor’s son has publicly rebuked the president. Prior to the election, Peale’s son John said he “cringes” when Trump invoked his fathers name on the campaign trail.
“I don’t respect Mr. Trump very much. I don’t take him very seriously. I regret the publicity of the connection,” Peale’s son wrote. “This is a problem for the Peale family.”
The Peale family weren’t the only ones to distance themselves from Trump — during the campaign, Marble Collegiate issued a statement rejecting Trump’s claims that he attends their church and stated he “is not an active member.”
Though the Trump family is reportedly church-less, the president enjoys touting the religiosity of his supporters.
“I did very, very well with evangelicals in the polls,” the president reportedly told the pastors of First Presbyterian Church and Manhattan’s Fifth Avenue Presbyterian Church, who “gently reminded Trump that neither of them was an evangelical.”
Although First Presbyterian, Trump’s childhood church, had an affluent all-white congregation when he attended as a boy, it’s now almost entirely comprised of people of color — many of whom are critical of the president’s policy and rhetoric.
“The policies he’s promoting go against our biblical teaching,” Philip Malebranche, a first-generation Haitian immigrant and First Presbyterian parishioner told CNN. “Our president should be representing us and not a minority of people.”
When Lee asked Malebranche if Trump would be welcome at First Presbyterian today, he expressed apprehension.
“What spirit would the President bring to this congregation on a Sunday morning?” he told CNN. “I would be very skeptical.”
Read the entire report on Trump’s tense relationship to Christianity and the churches he’s attended via CNN.