Trump endorses Ten Commandments in schools, implores evangelical Christians to vote in November

Donald Trump speaks under a large sign reading "Faith & Freedom," words repeated on a lectern and in logos in the background
Former President Trump speaks Saturday at the Road to Majority conference in Washington.
(Manuel Balce Ceneta / Associated Press)
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Donald Trump told a group of evangelicals they “cannot afford to sit on the sidelines” of the 2024 election, imploring them at one point to “go and vote, Christians, please!”

Trump also endorsed displaying the Ten Commandments in schools and elsewhere during his speech to a group of politically influential evangelical Christians in Washington on Saturday. He drew cheers as he invoked a new law signed in Louisiana this week requiring the Ten Commandments to be displayed in every public school classroom.

“Has anyone read the ‘Thou shalt not steal’? I mean, has anybody read this incredible stuff? It’s just incredible,” Trump said at the gathering of the Faith & Freedom Coalition. “They don’t want it to go up. It’s a crazy world.’’


Trump had posted an endorsement of the new law on his social media network a day earlier, saying: “I LOVE THE TEN COMMANDMENTS IN PUBLIC SCHOOLS, PRIVATE SCHOOLS, AND MANY OTHER PLACES, FOR THAT MATTER. READ IT — HOW CAN WE, AS A NATION, GO WRONG???”

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The former president and presumptive Republican presidential nominee backed the move as he seeks to galvanize supporters on the religious right, which has fiercely backed him after initially being suspicious of the twice-divorced New York City tabloid celebrity when he first ran for president in 2016.

That support has continued despite his conviction in the first of his four criminal cases. Last month, a jury found him guilty of falsifying business records for what prosecutors said was an attempt to cover up a hush money payment to porn actor Stormy Daniels just before the 2016 election. Daniels says she had a sexual encounter with Trump a decade earlier, which he denies.

Trump’s stated opposition to signing a nationwide ban on abortion and his reluctance to detail some of his views on the issue are also at odds with many members of the evangelical movement, a key part of Trump’s base that’s expected to help him turn out voters in his November rematch with Democratic President Biden.

But while many members of the movement would like to see him do more to restrict abortion, they cheer him as the greatest champion for the cause due to his role in appointing conservative U.S. Supreme Court justices who helped overturn national abortion rights in 2022.

Trump highlighted that fact Saturday, saying that “we did something that was amazing,” but that the issue would be left to people to decide in the states.


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“Every voter has to go with your heart and do what’s right, but we also have to get elected,” he said.

While he still takes credit for the reversal of Roe vs. Wade, Trump has also warned abortion can be tricky politically for Republicans. For months, he deferred questions about his position on a national ban.

When Trump addressed the Faith & Freedom Coalition last year, he said there was “a vital role for the federal government in protecting unborn life,” but didn’t elaborate.

This April, Trump said he believed the issue should now be left to the states. He later stated in an interview that if elected, he would not sign a nationwide ban on abortion if Congress were to pass one. He has still declined to detail his position on access to the abortion pill mifepristone.

About two-thirds of Americans say abortion should generally be legal, according to polling last year by the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research.

Attendees at the evangelical gathering on Saturday said that while they’d like to see a national abortion ban, Trump isn’t losing any of their deep support.


Trump did not say when in pregnancy he believes abortion should be banned, declining to endorse a national cutoff that would have been used as a cudgel by Democrats ahead of the November election.

April 8, 2024

“I would prefer if he would sign a national ban,” said Jerri Dickinson, a 78-year-old retired social worker and Faith & Freedom member from New Jersey. “I understand though, that as in accordance with the Constitution, that decision should be left up to the states.”

Dickinson said she can’t stand the abortion law in her state, which does not set limits on the procedure based on gestational age. But she said outside of preferring a national ban, leaving the issue to the states “is the best alternative.”

John Pudner, a 59-year-old who recently started a Faith & Freedom chapter in his home state of Wisconsin, said members of the movement feel loyal to Trump but “we’d generally like him to be more pro-life.”

“I think a lot, you know, within the pro-life movement feel like, well, gosh, they’re kind of thinking he’s too far pro-choice,” Pudner said. “But because they appreciate his Supreme Court justices, like, that’s a positive within the pro-life community.”

According to AP VoteCast, a wide-ranging survey of the electorate, about 8 in 10 white evangelical Christian voters supported Trump in 2020, and nearly 4 in 10 Trump voters identified as white evangelical Christians. White evangelical Christians made up about 20% of the overall electorate that year.

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Beyond just offering their own support in the general election, the Faith & Freedom Coalition plans to help get out the vote for Trump and other Republicans, using volunteers and paid workers to knock on millions of doors in battleground states.


Trump said Saturday that evangelicals and other Christians “don’t vote as much as they should,” and joked that while he wanted them to vote in November, he didn’t care whether they voted again after that.

He portrayed Christianity as under threat by what he suggested was an erosion of freedom, law and the nation’s borders.

He returned several times during his roughly 90-minute speech to the subject of the U.S.-Mexico border, and at one point described migrants crossing it as “tough,” joking that he’d told his friend Dana White, president of the Ultimate Fighting Championship, to enlist them in a new version of the sport.

“‘Why don’t you set up a migrant league and have your regular league of fighters. And then you have the champion of your league — these are the greatest fighters in the world — fighting the champion of the migrants,’” Trump said he told White. “I think the migrant guy might win — that’s how tough they are. He didn’t like that idea too much.”

His story drew laughs and claps from the crowd.

Later Saturday, Trump planned to hold an evening rally in Philadelphia.

Associated Press writers Price and Alexander reported from Washington and Philadelphia, respectively. AP writers Tom Strong and Amelia Thomson DeVeaux contributed to this report.