Donald Trump appeared on Tony Perkins’ radio show “Washington Watch” on Saturday, where the two discussed, among other things, the government’s increasing assault on religious liberty. You can listen to the segment and read the transcript below:
DONALD TRUMP: Well, Tony, I can, tell you this, that religious liberty is very important to me, and I see more and more, especially, in particular, Christianity, Christians, their power is being taken away. I just watch it and I get angry at it. You look at what is going on with other religions, you look at, as an example, what’s happening with respect to Muslims and others where perhaps they just band together better or something. But, you know, the Christian, every year, you just see it more and more.
You know, you go from one thing to the next to the point where it’s not politically correct to say ‘Merry Christmas’ to anybody or you go to stores and you don’t ever see the word ‘Christmas’ anymore. You don’t see that term anymore, Tony.
One of the things I always say, and I say it lightheartedly but I mean it, it’s actually not supposed to be so lighthearted, and I get standing ovations, especially in Iowa and certain places, is we are going to start saying ‘Merry Christmas’ again. Because you go into these stores and you don’t see anything having to do with Christmas and it’s disgraceful, frankly, as far as I’m concerned, and that’s the way it should be and I feel strongly about it.
TONY PERKINS: Yes, and I think that is another area where you are connecting with conservative voters. And there is a poll out this week by Rasmussen that showed that among adults with school-age children at home, 82 percent favor celebrating Christmas in public schools. And that’s overwhelming. When you read something at 80 percent, that’s almost universal. Sixty-one percent of those same parents believe that there should be more religion — the Christian religion — in those schools. But somehow that’s been lost on the media and the cultural elite, and it appears that you have tapped into that which is why I believe your number continue to — they’re not stagnant, they continue to rise, even in the midst of being attacked.
How do you explain it? I mean, you’ve been attacked by the media; you’ve been attacked by other candidates. But your numbers haven’t gone down.
TRUMP: Right, they’ve actually gone way up, because, you know, the new polls are coming out in the 40s, you know, 42, 41. And I’m doing — you know, the new Public Policy Polling just came out, highly respected, and that just came out, where I’m leading Iowa, and also, as you know, I’m leading Iowa in the CNN poll. The CNN poll just came out a week ago, a week and a half ago, and I was leading by 13 points. I’m at 33 to 20 for Ted Cruz. And, you know, I just think that — I just think it’s a natural constituency for me somehow.
But, you know, when I see coaches being fired or suspended because they’re having a prayer for football players, the players are grabbing each other’s hand and praying before or after a game and they suspend the coach or fire the coach in some cases, I say, that’s not happening, if I get in, that’s not happening, Tony, I’ll tell you right now and I’ll make a big deal out of it.
I mean, we have some very important problems, when you look at ISIS and the disaster of Obamacare and our military and our vets not being taken care of properly, but you know that’s still something that is very important to me. How do you suspend a coach because he is practicing his faith?
Then, when I want to see what’s going on with, as an example, you know, it’s been a very big subject, the whole thing with the Muslims, and you get lambasted for doing something and yet they’ll fire a coach who’s a Christian coach because he’s saying a prayer on a football field with his players. It’s an incredible situation that’s taking place and not a good one!
Thomas Valentine is a researcher for the American Principles Project and a junior at the Franciscan University of Steubenville.