During an Iowa campaign event Wednesday, Donald Trump reportedly did the unthinkable, especially for a man who is vying to be the leader of the secular United States. According to multiple reports, during his campaign event, Donald Trump not only singled-out non-Christian members of the audience, he asked the Christian members of the same audience whether or not he should throw the non-Christians out.
The unbelievable incident took place in Council Bluffs, Iowa during Donald Trump’s inaugural “Iowa Christian Conservatives For Trump” coalition event. In attendance were nearly 700 of Iowa’s top religious (read: Christian) leaders, a group of Christian Conservatives who’d come out to show their support for the Republican presidential candidate. The incident was also caught on tape and broadcast for the world to see.
So what exactly happened? How did a political event turn into a presidential candidate quasi-threatening to throw non-Christian audience members out of the gathering? First, Donald Trump addressed the Christians in attendance, who were the overwhelming majority of the Iowa rally’s attendees. It was, after all, an event for Iowa Christian Conservatives.
From his place on the podium, Donald Trump asked the Christian members of his audience to raise their hands to identify themselves. Presumably to the candidate, as well as to each other, reports Time.
“Raise your hands, Christian Conservatives everybody.”
Most of the audience members at the Iowa Donald Trump event raised their hands at that point. Not surprising, given the nature of the venue. Trump could have left it at that, used his position as the Republican presidential nominee as a show of inclusiveness and solidarity with the Christians in his audience without making the non-Christians feel uncomfortable. However, Donald Trump opted to keep questioning his audience about their religious affiliation. Or lack thereof.
He followed up his first question by asking which members of the (now determined by show of hands to be predominantly Christian) audience were not Christians. He instructed those slim few to also raise their hands.
“Raise your hand if you’re not a Christian conservative—I want to see this, right.”
While that might have seemed inappropriate enough, given the rash of violence that has plagued Donald Trump’s events, the Republican candidate took it further still. Trump went on to ask his audience whether or not “we” (presumably Donald Trump and his conservative Christian supporters) should keep “them” (non-Christian audience members) at the event. Really.
“Should we keep them in the room?”
Apparently, the Christian conservatives in attendance at the Iowa Donald Trump event proved tolerant of their non-Christian brethren, because Donald Trump can next be heard agreeing to allow the non-Christians to stay at the rally.
“Yes? I think so.”
Not surprisingly, quite a few people were displeased with the way Donald Trump first profiled and then treated his non-Christian audience members. Especially given the allegations his campaign has faced regarding racism, antisemitism, and religious intolerance in the past. For Donald Trump’s part, he claimed that he was “just joking” when he seemingly threatened to have non-Christians kicked out of his event.
As Patheos reports, it didn’t take long for social media to begin lambasting Donald Trump in earnest for his perceived attack on Americans not of the conservative Christian variety. In addition, religious leaders also took Trump to task for singling out and targeting non-Christians at his campaign event. One such religious leader was Ibrahim Hooper, who is the National Communications Director for the Council on American-Islamic Relations.
“Given Mr. Trump’s history of targeting religious and ethnic minorities, it is disturbing that he would single out non-Christians during his rally in Iowa. It is clear that his vision of America is one of division and exclusion, not unity and acceptance.”
This isn’t the first time Donald Trump has favored so-called “Christian Americans,” to the exclusion of all others, with his rhetoric. Just last summer, Trump made a vow to “restore [Christian] faith” to its proper place in American society. He further attempted to secure the conservative vote by promising to “respect and defend Christian Americans.”
But what about non-Christian Americans?
If what happened at the Iowa rally is any indication, Donald Trump’s plans for them may be much less appealing.
[Featured Image by Spencer Platt/Getty Images]