WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump expressed mutual appreciation for one of the more passionate segments of his base: evangelical Christians.
"The evangelicals were so great to me," Mr. Trump declared in a wide-ranging exclusive interview with CBN founder and "700 Club" host Pat Robertson. "They came out in massive numbers."
According to the Pew Research Center, Trump won white born-again Christians by more than 80 percent, a record turnout among evangelicals for any candidate in the last 16 years.
The president used the interview to tick off a few of the successes he has won for evangelicals, including the appointment of Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court and signing an executive order in May designed to relax regulations on political speech from the pulpit.
"We've really helped because I've gotten rid of the Johnson Amendment," he said. "Now, we're going to go try and get rid of it permanently in Congress."
Mr. Trump said the White House order will allow ministers, preachers, and rabbis to wade into politics without fear of potentially losing their tax-exempt status as a religious nonprofit.
"It's going to be a great thing for Christianity. Believe me – a great, great thing," he insisted. "And it's going to be a great thing for religion."
When Robertson suggested a "visceral hatred" of President Trump by some on the Left, the commander in chief agreed.
"There seems to be a hatred, and it's too bad," he said. "But we take it as long as my people understand."
The president described his treatment as "unfair" and said it motivated his decision to grant Robertson the interview.
"You have a tremendous audience," he said. "You have the people that I love: the evangelicals."
The remark about his love for evangelical Christians fell on the same day a photo emerged of Mr. Trump surrounded by a group of prominent Christians praying with the president in the Oval Office.
Johnnie Moore, a former Liberty University executive, said it was "such an honor to pray within the Oval Office" for President Trump and Vice President Mike Pence on Twitter.
"It shows a substantive relationship between the evangelical community and this administration," he told CBN News.