Meet the Pastors Who Support Donald Trump

Trump has been criticized for espousing hate, but some pastors believe in him.

ByABC News
April 14, 2016, 8:56 PM

— -- Pastor Mark Burns was "closing," finishing off what's become the usual sermonette he gives to warm up the crowd before Donald Trump arrives.

His raspy voice was aflame with passion; with every word he spoke, the audience awaiting Trump in Hickory, NC grew more and more fervent; whoops and cheers let loose. The faithful had flocked here for a Donald Trump experience...and Pastor Burns was just the man to usher them in.

"I know, even though there might be protesters outside, I know there are enough people in here that is excited, we're about to elect a man in Donald Trump that believes in the name of Jesus Christ!"

And as the crowd erupted in cheers, he added, "And he is going to make sure we as Christians are protected when he gets to the White House!"

Burns is just one of several religious leaders who have all thrown their weight behind the Republican frontrunner.

As Trump has made a name for himself chastising illegal immigrants, hurling insults at opponents, and proposing to ban people of a certain religion from entering the country, many of these leaders discount that idea that Trump is espousing hate, saying instead that he is the only choice for those who consider themselves to be Christian.

"He's fighting for Christianity," Burns told ABC News.

Before he became a surrogate for Trump, Burns was the founder of the NOWNetwork, a web-based, urban Christian programming network, in which he interviewed various prominent pastors, including Baltimore Pastor Jamal Bryant and Florida evangelist Paula White. He also pastors The Harvest Praise and Worship Center in Easley, SC, near where he resides with his wife and children.

In September, he was invited to attend a meeting with other religious leaders to discuss the possibility of Trump running. Burns said that he was told that Trump wanted to discuss religion.

As the group of pastors conversed with Trump, Burns said he impressed him by saying how Christianity was under attack.

"[Trump discussed] How people don't say Merry Christmas...he believes these are one of the core values that has made America great and we need to get back to those values. That was the beginning of what captivated my interest in Donald Trump," Burns said.

He says that Trump's [recent] pro-life position and admission that the Christian faith is under attack all appealed to him and he vigorously defended Trump against accusations of hate or discrimination.

"He's done business with literally almost every color and race, his work speaks volumes," he said.

Burns, who has voted for presidents Barack Obama and Bill Clinton, said he understands the skepticism people have about Trump's faith... but knows otherwise.

"I believe Donald Trump, not from what I've read in the paper, but in conversations, I've come to the conclusion that Trump has a personal relationship with God," he said.

As much as Trump often proclaims that he's a "good Christian" during rallies, he has made some missteps. Last year he told Republican pollster Frank Lutz that he tries to correct himself, without asking for forgiveness, a core tenant of the Christianity.

"I am not sure I have," Trump said when asked if he'd ever asked God for forgiveness. "I just go on and try to do a better job from there...I think if I do something wrong, I think, I just try and make it right. I don't bring God into that picture. I don't."