BEDMINSTER, N.J. — Churchgoers at a PCUSA Presbyterian assembly in New Jersey gave President-elect Donald Trump a standing ovation on Sunday as he attended services with Mike Pence, Reince Preibus and others.
Trump and his entourage visited Lamington Presbyterian Church in Bedminster Township for worship, which is located just two miles from the National Golf Club Bedminster, where Trump is interviewing prospective cabinet members.
Lamington Presbyterian, led by female interim minister Jacqui Van Vliet, is a member of the Presbyterian Church USA (PCUSA), which is considered apostate by orthodox Christians as a majority of presbyteries voted last year to amend the Book of Order to redefine marriage and allow ministers to officiate same-sex ceremonies. PCUSA congregations are also generally pro-abortion.
Presbyterian Church USA differs from the Presbyterian Church of America (PCA), which split from the PCUSA in the 1970’s due to “opposition to the long-developing theological liberalism which denied the deity of Jesus Christ and the inerrancy and authority of Scripture.”
PCA believes the Bible defines marriage as being between a man and a woman, and has declared in official statements that “abortion is wrong; it is a sin.”
Trump arrived at the historic Lamington Presbyterian at approximately 10:00 a.m. and left at 11:15 a.m. to much applause. Reporters were not allowed inside.
“I just want to say thank you to President-elect Trump from the bottom of my heart. I’ve been a member of this church for 45 years and the whole congregation is thrilled to have him,” member Shelley Ricco, 62, told the New York Post.
“We gave him a standing ovation at the end of mass, a rousing standing ovation!” she said, adding, “I hope he follows his heart.”
Trump has stated numerous times over the past year that he identifies as Presbyterian. It is not known if he is aware of the difference between PCUSA and PCA.
“I am a religious person. People are so shocked when they find this out—I’m Protestant. I’m Presbyterian,” he said during the Iowa Family Leadership Summit last July, stating that his pastor was the late Norman Vincent Peale, who became known for his books and speeches on “the power of positive thinking.”
Peale led Marble Collegiate Church in New York City, which according to its website is affiliated with the Reformed Church in America (RCA).
As previously reported, Trump also visited First Presbyterian Church of Muscatine (PCUSA) in January just days before the Iowa caucus, as a woman spoke in delivering the reading of 1 Corinthians 12.
“I also want you to think about how this keeps your significance from getting blown up into self-importance. For no matter how significant you are, it is only because of what you are part of,” she said.
“We talked about humility in church today,” Trump told reporters following the service. “I don’t know if that was aimed at me. Perhaps.”