During an interview on Wednesday with CNN’s Anderson Cooper, Republican Presidential candidate Donald Trump was asked to comment further on his response to a question at last Saturday’s Iowa Family Leadership Summit regarding whether or not he has ever asked God to forgive him.
As previously reported, Trump had been asked by moderator Frank Luntz during the Q&A segment of the event whether he has ever sought forgiveness for his sins.
“That’s a tough question,” he replied. “I am a religious person. People are so shocked when they find this out—I’m Protestant. I’m Presbyterian.”
“I go to church. I love God and I love my church,” Trump added.
He said that his pastor was the late motivational speaker Norman Vincent Peale, who was known for his teachings on the “power of positive thinking.”
“He was so great,” Trump said. “He would give a sermon, and you’d never wanted to leave…. I still remember his sermons. It was unbelievable.”
“But have you ever asked God for forgiveness?” Luntz repeated, evoking laughter from the audience.
“I am not sure I have. I just go on and try to do a better job from there. I don’t think so,” Trump stated. “I think if I do something wrong, I think I just try and make it right. I don’t bring God into that picture. I don’t.”
He said that he does take communion, and opined that perhaps it is a form of seeking forgiveness.
“When we go into church and when I drink my little wine—which is about the only wine I drink—and have my little cracker, I guess that is a form of asking for forgiveness,” Trump explained. “I do that as often as possible because I feel cleansed, okay? To me, that’s important. I do that.”
He said he doesn’t really think about needing to ask God to forgive him.
“In terms of officially, I could say absolutely and everybody—-I don’t think in terms of that. I think in terms of, ‘Let’s go on and let’s make it right.’”
On Wednesday, CNN’s Anderson Cooper mentioned Trump’s response, stating that it had surprised some hearers.
“I go to communion, and that’s asking for forgiveness in my opinion,” Trump responded.
“The idea of asking [for] forgiveness, is that a central tenant for you?” Cooper asked.
“I like to do the right thing where I don’t actually have to ask for forgiveness,” Trump replied. “Where you don’t [do] such bad things that you have to ask for forgiveness. I mean, I try and lead a life where I don’t have to ask God for forgiveness.”
Cooper then asked Trump if repentance is a subject that is important to him.
“I think repenting is terrific. I mean, it’s great,” Trump replied.
“But do you feel the need to?” Cooper inquired.
“If I make a mistake, yeah, I think it’s great. But I try not to make mistakes,” Trump replied. “Why do I have to repent, why do I have to ask for forgiveness, if you are not making mistakes? I work hard. I’m an honorable person. I have thousands of people who work for me. I have employed tens of thousands of people over the years.”
“You give millions to charity,” Cooper chimed in.
“I built the Vietnam memorial in lower Manhattan with a small group of people,” Trump exclaimed.
Following Trump’s initial comments on Saturday, Shane Vander Hart of Caffeinated Thoughts published an open letter to Trump to share the gospel with him and explain the reason why every man needs forgiveness.
“Mr. Trump, we all need forgiveness,” he wrote. “Our offenses may differ in number and perceived sincerity, but as we stand before a holy and just God, none of us measure up.”
“The natural reaction is that we try to balance the ledger so to speak with doing good things. You mentioned going to church and making things right, and those are not bad things,” Vander Hart continued. “They in themselves will not pay for our sin and satisfy God’s justice. Our human activity can never make up for our sin.”
“The Bible says ‘all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God’ (Romans 3:23). There is no one walking this planet that truth doesn’t apply to. The book of Isaiah tells us that ‘our sin separates us from God,’ (Isaiah 59:2),” he continued. “So we can have forgiveness, Mr. Trump, Jesus paid the price …, and it is free.”
Vander Hart then urged Trump to confess his sins to God as every man is required to do.
“The Bible tells us, ‘If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness,” (1 John 1:9). He wants us to ask. As we confess our sin we need to repent, that just means to turn around, turn around from your sin and turn to Jesus,” he said.
“It is my prayer and hope that you do just that.”