Donald Trump defended his comments about Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson’s Seventh-Day Adventist religious beliefs on Sunday, stating that he said nothing bad about them and reiterated that he doesn’t know “about it.”
“I know nothing about it really. I’m a Presbyterian and I had mentioned that, and I did say I don’t know about it. And in fact those are my exact words,” Trump said on ABC’s This Week. “I didn’t say anything bad about it. I just don’t know about it. I would certainly give an apology if I said something bad about it. But I didn’t. All I said was I don’t know about it.”
At a campaign event in Iowa a day earlier, Trump appeared to portray Carson’s faith as out of the mainstream.
“I love Iowa. And, look, I don’t have to say it, I’m Presbyterian,” Trump said. “Can you believe it? Nobody believes I’m Presbyterian. I’m Presbyterian. I’m Presbyterian. I’m Presbyterian. Boy, that’s down the middle of the road folks, in all fairness. I mean, Seventh-day Adventist, I don’t know about. I just don’t know about.”
Seventh-Day Adventists follow the teachings of the late Ellen G. White, who they believe to have been a prophetess. They observe Saturday as the Sabbath, and as White wrote in her book “The Great Controversy,” opine that “[w]hen Sunday observance shall be enforced by law, … those who continue in transgression [with Sunday worship] will receive ‘the mark of the beast.’”
“This church would not be where it is without the special guidance given it by God through Ellen White in the writings of the Spirit of Prophecy,” Ted N.C. Wilson, the grandson of SDA President Nathaniel Wilson stated this month at a Spirit of Prophecy Symposium at Andrews University. “In the Seventh-day Adventist Church we accept Ellen G. White as a modern servant of the Lord and prophet.”
Adventists also believe in the “annihilation of the wicked,” rejecting the doctrine of eternal torment out of their assertion that the Bible “did not mean eternal punishing, but rather punishment in the world to come that ends in cessation of being,” as outlined in “The Conditionalist Faith of Our Fathers” by Adventist author LeRoy Edwin Froom.
Some also teach that Jesus was Michael the archangel before manifesting in the flesh on Earth.
“Seventh-day Adventists … teach—unlike most Christians—that the biblical references to the celestial Michael are references to Jesus himself in his pre-incarnate state,” explained Russ Winkle for the Adventist publication Spectrum. “While this is not a fundamental belief of Seventh-day Adventism, it is a belief that Seventh-day Adventists have promoted.”
Trump has been under scrutiny for his own faith in recent months, stating in July that he “loves God,” but is not is “not sure” if he has ever “asked for forgiveness.” Days later, he asked CNN’s Anderson Cooper why he needed to “repent” if he is not doing anything wrong.
“If I make a mistake, yeah, I think [repentance is] great. But I try not to make mistakes,” Trump said. “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.”
As previously reported, last month, a group of nearly 30 clergy laid hands on and prayed for Trump’s potential presidency at his Trump Tower in New York, including prosperity preachers Kenneth Copeland and Paula White.
“Father, we just secure him right now by the blood of Jesus. We thank you that no weapon formed against him will be able to prosper and any tongue that rises against him will be condemned according to the word of God,” White, who leads New Destiny Christian Center in Florida, prayed. “I secure him. I secure his children. I secure his calling and his mantle.”