Pastor Mark Burns was tasked with making the case for Donald Trump at the Faith and Family Forum today — and had a harder time than he might have expected winning over the conservative crowd.
Burns, who is the co-founder and chief executive of the Christian broadcasting NOW Television Network, argued that he knows the 2016 GOP frontrunner through multiple conversations and believes that he is conservative, pro-life and anti-gay marriage.
"I have spoken to him many times, and he has conveyed to me his heart," Burns said at the forum at Bob Jones University in Greenville, S.C. "He has conveyed to me the tricks of the trade and how others would try to make you to believe that he is a person that does not hold the same values that we hold dear.
"That is a lie. That is not the truth," he said. "I would not be sitting here talking to you, I would not be risking my name, my television network, all that I have built, the thousands of souls that have been saved under my ministry across the world, to be here and to look you in the face and to try to convey to you the heart of another person if I didn't believe it was true. I know Donald Trump, he is a friend of mine. And I know his values."
But Burns ran into a snag midway through the speech, when he started saying that Trump has the "same values as you and I do."
The pastor repeated four times: "Donald Trump is pro-faith. He is pro-faith. He is pro-faith. He is pro-faith."
But an attendee called out loudly that Trump is "profane" — presumably referring to Trump's use of the word "pussy" on stage to mock opponent Sen. Ted Cruz and other such statements over the course of the campaign.
Burns responded by admitting that Trump's language is profane.
"Let me tell you one thing, I'm grateful you said that, that Donald Trump is profane, and that's what you're saying," he said. "Donald Trump is profane, but guess what? ... I don't know about you but I don't trust a man that doesn't have mistakes. I don't trust a man that doesn't have the ability to have mistakes and then recognize those mistakes and then do what it takes to change."
[sharequote="center"]"Donald Trump is profane, but guess what? ... I don't know about you but I don't trust a man that doesn't have mistakes."[/sharequote]
Burns tied the argument into the Christian gospel, that no one can earn salvation through works alone.
"That's the whole message of grace. That's what all of us are under," he said. "We all have made mistakes, we all have said things we shouldn't have said. We all have declared words that were not right at some point. But the message of humility, the message of grace that says, 'I can change my opinion, I can change my language, I can change how people view me by changing my decisions, so that when I receive new information, what was once lost is now found. What was once blind can now see."
Burns asked faith-based voters to give Trump grace. "Remember the message of grace. ... Remember your own life, how you was once lost but now you're found. How you was once blind but now you see.
" ... Jesus said it like this: He that has not sinned cast the first stone."
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