GOP presidential contender and current front-runner Donald Trump is aiming his proudly “politically incorrect” anger and his pledge to be “great!” directly at evangelical Christians, just weeks before the Iowa caucus.

“I’m going to protect Christians,” who are losing their power in American society, he said Monday, addressing 100,000 Liberty University students – packed in the Lynchburg, Va., campus sports arena or viewing online.

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Trump, who was reared Presbyterian but has a freewheeling way of speaking of faith, cited Liberty as a place that lived up to the biblical passage from 2 Corinthians, “Where the spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.”

Trump was the fourth contender to speak at Liberty during this presidential election cycle. He was invited to address a session of the mandatory-attendance “convocation” held three times a week at the campus founded by the late religious right leader the Rev. Jerry Falwell to promote a “Christian world view” in the power centers of society.

It’s now led by his son, Jerry Falwell Jr. Past convocations, which can be viewed online, have feature politicians, business executives, star athletes and entertainers, and opinion leaders such as the president of the National Rifle Association.

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In March, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, bumped a scheduled appearance by the governor of Virginia to announce his candidacy to a standing ovation of cheering, flag-waving students. Although candidates have spoken here since the 1980s, Cruz was the first to announce his candidacy here.

Falwell made clear in introducing Cruz, the Southern Baptist son of a preacher, that the college, which prides itself on sending conservative Christians into politics, medicine and law, “does not does not support or oppose candidates for public office.”

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But his introduction for Cruz was a blip compared to a lengthy speech praising Trump as a charitable, loving, friendly business titan. Falwell compared Trump to his own father, who was fearlessly politically incorrect and the kind of entrepreneur the nation needs, “not a puppet on a string.”

This was Trump’s second visit to Liberty. He was there in 2012, but attendance Monday broke convocation crowd. Falwell presented Trump as “one of the greatest visionaries of our time.”

He lauded the New York real estate magnate as friendly, charitable, loving, and living the Bible’s command to help others. While professing no endorsement, Falwell said Trump was like the senior Falwell — men who spoke their minds. The Liberty founder once posted a billboard that touted, “Liberty University, politically incorrect since 1971.”

Trump covered his familiar bases:

  • Everything would be great and he would win so much people would almost get weary of “Win! Win! Win!”
  • He slammed generals he said he sees on TV mumbling that ISIS is hard to beat. No more loser generals said Trump: “I want a general (who will) knock the hell out of them fast.”
  • His rivals in the GOP, the Obama administration and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton are all like “a puppet on a string,” beholden to big money special interests. They are so “incompetent,” it’s not even a strong enough word, he said with an added barb for Clinton. “I want to see a woman president soon, but not her, she’s a disaster.”
  • On the campus where students are encouraged to carry concealed weapons, Trump proclaimed his unshakeable support for the Second Amendment. “Had bullets been doing the other way,” in Paris or San Bernardino, California, “the death toll would have been much lower.”
  • His wall at the Mexican border will be “Simple!!! China, 2,000 years ago, built the great wall.” And he plans an equally “serious wall,” he said, reminding people that he is sure Mexico will pay for it.

Evangelical leader Russell Moore tweeted an acerbic observation:

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Trump pointed out how evangelicals have been betrayed in the past by politicians who made promises to gain their votes and turned their back once elected.

But evangelicals are not a political monolith. Mark Weaver, a business consultant in Fort Collins, Colorado, is a registered independent and a “moderate evangelical,” who sees too many Christian believers “manipulated” by politicians and “talking head media.”

He watched Trump’s speech Monday on his computer, and he said he could see how all the fearful talk, particularly about refugees and immigration, could appeal to people concerned about security.

“A lot of those ‘healthy young men’ Trump spoke about may be Christians fleeing persecution,” said Weaver. ” want to try to allow my world view to be shaped more by the Bible than by political talking heads.”

And in his Bible, Weaver said he finds the call over and over to care for the poor, the orphaned, the widowed and the alien.

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“A heart for God can mess up your politics,” said Weaver. “I don’t think Trump’s views represent God or all evangelical Christians.”

Trump was not the only candidate to resonate with Liberty students. Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, a Catholic, was among the commencement speakers in May, and retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson, a Seventh Day Adventist, spoke in November when he was still high in the polls.

The surprise speaker may have been Democrat contender Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, a socialist of Jewish heritage.

But, Falwell said as he introduced Sanders, they had already found one point of common ground — support for Liberty’s sports teams. Sanders began by saying that despite their differing views on abortion as a choice and on gay rights, he believed they all agreed on a need for “civil discourse,” and a common need to “stand with the poor.”

According to Washington Post, other leading Democrats — President Obama, Vice President Joe Biden and Clinton — have all “politely declined” invitations to Liberty.

This article originally appeared in Religion News Service.