A Texas Baptist pastor aiding the Donald Trump campaign in its outreach to Hispanic voters endorsed the Republican presidential candidate during an interview aired in three parts on The Jim Bakker Show in late July.
“Let me go ahead and say it,” Ramiro Peña, founding pastor of Christ the King Baptist Church in Waco, Texas, said on programs that aired July 21-23 on the PTL Television Network. “Can I just say it? I endorse Donald Trump for the presidency of the United States of America.”
Peña, a former nine-year member of the Baylor University board of regents who with Houston Astros owner Drayton McLane organized the Billy Graham-style Gathering on the Brazos attended by 35,000 at the university’s McLane Stadium on Palm Sunday 2015, said while Trump isn’t the ideal candidate for conservative Christian voters, he’s far preferable to Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton.
“If we don’t elect Donald Trump president, we’re going to end up electing someone who we absolutely know will put justices on the U.S. Supreme Court that will be pro-abortion,” the pastor said. “They will be pro-gay marriage. They will rob us of religious liberty, will continue to tear away at our right to bear arms, and that’s the kind of jurist that will be placed on the Supreme Court and on the federal bench.”
In contrast, Peña said, Trump has submitted 11 names of potential appointees vetted by the conservative Federalist Society and said he will appoint pro-life justices to the Supreme Court.
“On that point, if for no other reason, even if you don’t like some of the things that he has said or done, for that point alone, for the sake of the Supreme Court and the future of our nation, that’s why I’m so convinced that he must be elected next president of the United States,” Peña continued. “There are other reasons. He is pro-Israel. We need that.”
Peña, a Mexican American whose parents both attended Baylor with scholarship aid from the Baptist General Convention of Texas, said while Hispanics traditionally have tended to vote for Democrats, many of their values align with the GOP.
“In the community of Hispanic people, you find the greatest majority — as a group — that is pro-life, pro-family, pro-traditional marriage, pro-work ethic, faithful to God and country,” he said. “I tend to think that so many of them that embrace these values are embracing the very values of the Republican Party, even though historically the Republican Party hasn’t always embraced them. But the values, which is most important, are so linked. We believe the same things.”
Peña said a lot of Hispanic voters are wary of Trump because all they know about him is mistakes he has made like lumping all immigrants together as lawbreakers in his comments about tightening security at the U.S. border.
“If we’re waiting for a perfect candidate to come along, don’t hold your breath,” Peña said. “We will never have a perfect candidate. People — particularly of my culture — say ‘how can you support Mr. Trump when he has said these things?’ Look, I know what the other side looks like, and it is so bad.”
Peña, who attended both a closed door meeting between 1,000 evangelical leaders and Trump in New York City in June and a July meeting of Hispanic pastors with campaign officials in Miami, said he believes religious leaders have the candidate’s listening ear.
“I’m going to tell you something about Donald Trump: He has a genuine reverence and respect for clergy,” Peña. “It’s real.”
“I believe he is open to godly counsel, not just from me, but from others,” he said. “He is inviting godly counsel so that we can make America great again,” the pastor said.
As to values voters who say they cannot in good conscience vote for either candidate, Peña invoked Isaiah 45, where the Lord describes the Persian King Cyrus as “my anointed,” despite the fact “you do not know anything about me.”
“I don’t know if Donald Trump knows the Lord or not,” Peña said. “He claims to be Christian, but here’s the truth: The Lord can choose a person and use a person whether he knows Him or not, whether that person is living for the Lord or not.”
“Is it my ideal to elect a person that’s made their money in casinos?” Peña asked. “No, it doesn’t fit my model, but I’m not God. If God was to choose Donald Trump, to raise up, if he’s the one He wants to use, then who am I to say ‘No’?”
“I want to challenge Christians,” Peña said, “Don’t put God in a box. God can do what God wants to do.”
“If you want to criticize me for being a person who is giving input to a person such as Donald Trump, then you’re going to have to complain about Joseph,” he said. “The Scripture says that Joseph became like a father to Pharaoh. You’d have to complain about Esther and Mordecai, who saved the Jewish people with a pagan king. You’re going to have to criticize Daniel. Daniel served, ministered to, prophesied over, multiple pagan kings.”
“I’m not saying he’s a pagan,” Peña returned to Trump. “But I am saying that if God gives us an opportunity to demonstrate his love, to call down wisdom from above and guidance from the Lord, why wouldn’t we do that?”