For at least the third time since he became a candidate for president, Donald Trump was asked whether he seeks God’s forgiveness. The first two times he said no, but in an interview published Wednesday his answer was a bit vaguer.
Here is the exchange, which ran on the blog of Cal Thomas, a syndicated columnist and conservative Christian leader:
Thomas: “You have said you never felt the need to ask for God’s forgiveness, and yet repentance for one’s sins is a precondition to salvation. I ask you the question Jesus asked of Peter: Who do you say He is?”
Trump: “I will be asking for forgiveness, but hopefully I won’t have to be asking for much forgiveness.”
Thomas: “Who do you say Jesus is?”
Trump: “Jesus to me is somebody I can think about for security and confidence. Somebody I can revere in terms of bravery and in terms of courage and, because I consider the Christian religion so important, somebody I can totally rely on in my own mind.”
Last summer, Trump was asked at the Iowa Family Leadership Summit whether he had ever asked God for forgiveness.
“I am not sure I have,” he said then. “I just go on and try to do a better job from there. I don’t think so. 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.” He went on to say that he does receive Communion at church.
“When I drink my little wine — which is about the only wine I drink — and have my little cracker, I guess that is a form of asking for forgiveness, and I do that as often as possible because I feel cleansed,” he said. “I think in terms of ‘Let’s go on and let’s make it right.'”
In January, he told CNN’s Jake Tapper that he doesn’t regret never asking God for forgiveness and doesn’t have much to apologize for.
“I have a great relationship with God. I have a great relationship with the evangelicals,” Trump told Tapper.
“I like to be good. I don’t like to have to ask for forgiveness. And I am good. I don’t do a lot of things that are bad. I try to do nothing that is bad.”
Christian leaders have been bitterly divided as the Trump campaign has gone on as to whether believers can support someone who says he has never asked for forgiveness from God — a basic aspect of Christian teaching. The candidate’s comments about women and religious, ethnic and racial minorities also have stirred considerable debate among conservative Christians, who are accustomed to voting for Republican presidential candidates.