Donald Trump on Monday night reportedly warned Evangelical Christian leaders that there will be violence if Republicans fail to hold on to both houses of Congress in the upcoming mid-term elections, NBC News is reporting.
On Monday night, Trump held a closed-door meeting with Evangelical Christian leaders, after reporters had left. During the meeting, Trump warned attendees that, if Democrats take over both houses of Congress in 2018, everything that Evangelical Christians have gained will be violently taken from them.
“You’re one election away from losing everything that you’ve got. The level of hatred, the level of anger is unbelievable… they will overturn everything that we’ve done and they’ll do it quickly and violently, and violently.”
He then claimed that the supposed violence would stem from what he has done for the audience, and what he has done for his family. He didn’t specify what he meant by that.
According to Business Insider, Trump warned the audience that the November elections aren’t just a referendum on him. It’s a referendum, he says, on freedom of religion and the First Amendment.
Trump also told the crowd that he “got rid of” the Johnson Amendment, which Trump claims limits the free speech of Christians. Trump neither got rid of the law, nor does it limit the free speech of Christians.
— CNN Politics (@CNNPolitics) August 28, 2018
The so-called “Johnson Amendment,” which prohibits churches (and other religious institutions, and charitable organizations) from directly campaigning for, or opposing, a political cause or candidate. They are of course legally free to do so, but they risk losing their tax-exempt status if they do.
“Now you’re not silenced anymore. It’s gone and there’s no penalty anymore and if you like somebody or if you don’t like somebody you can go out and say, ‘This man is going to be great for evangelicals, or for Christianity or for another religion. This person is somebody that I like and I’m going to talk about it on Sunday.'”
Despite Trump’s claims to the contrary, the law is still on the books. Trump signed an executive order in 2017 aimed at overturning the law; however, the president does not have the authority to overturn a law, only Congress can do that. Congressional efforts at overturning the laws have failed. Gregory Magarian, a constitutional law professor at Washington University Law School, says Trump’s 2017 executive order “does almost nothing.”
As of this writing, the White House has not responded to requests for comment about Monday night’s meeting.