President-Elect Donald Trump won 81 percent of the evangelical Christian vote. In addition to his promise to “Make America Great Again,” he has also continually reassured Christians and conservatives that he is pro-life and will defend their religious freedoms.
The media and the public seem to wait with bated breath as Trump interviews and selects individuals for his Cabinet. Any prospect, and ultimately any final pick, will be analyzed thoroughly, and so far, the selections have been largely praised by conservatives and Trump supporters. But where do these individuals stand from a faith perspective or upbringing?
“A Christian, a conservative and a Republican, in that order.” — Mike Pence about himself
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1.) Gov. Mike Pence, Vice President
Gov. Pence of Indiana eloquently balances and complements Trump political experience and personality. As Trump’s first official administrative appointee during the campaign, Pence describes himself as “a Christian, a conservative and a Republican, in that order.” He was raised in the Catholic faith, but made a personal commitment to Christ while he was in college, converting to evangelical Christianity. Pence’s testimony of faith, pro-life support, and 30-plus-year marriage to his wife, Karen, helped solidify the trust evangelical Christians put in Donald Trump.
2.) Texas oilman Rex Tillerson, Secretary of State
Tillerson is the president and CEO of ExxonMobil — and an Eagle Scout from Texas. Although he is affiliated as a Christian and has donated to the National Association of Congregational Christian Churches as well as prominent Republican campaigns, including those of George W. Bush, Mitt Romney, and Jeb Bush, he drew criticism from conservative Christian activist Tony Perkins.
Tillerson encouraged the Boy Scouts of America to admit gay youths during his time of leadership at the organization from 2010-2012. ExxonMobil also contributed to Planned Parenthood through its employee charitable matching program.
3.) Sen. Jeff Sessions, Attorney General
Sessions is active at Ashland Place United Methodist Church as a Sunday School teacher and lay leader. He is a strong defender of traditional marriage, and resoundingly opposes illegal immigration and amnesty. He is also pro-life, with a firm conservative voting record against abortion and stem cell research.
4.) Billionaire Wilbur Ross, Commerce Secretary
Known as the “King of Bankruptcy,” Ross is a self-made business mogul. He attended Xavier High School in Manhattan, which is an elite Catholic preparatory school, and then earned a degree from Yale. Little is so far publicly about Ross’ religious affiliation or beliefs.
5.) General James Mattis, Secretary of Defense
“Mad Dog Mattis” is a lifelong bachelor or a “warrior monk” — and an expert on war. He has devoted his life to researching and training on combat. Mattis often quotes Ecclesiastes 1:9: “There is nothing new under the sun,” which was written by King Solomon. He attributes his desire to learn from the past to this philosophy — there is nothing new under the sun and so history can teach a great deal about how to deal with present circumstances.
6.) Betsy DeVos, Secretary of Education
DeVos attended Holland Christian High School and Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Michigan. She is currently a member of Mars Hill Bible Church in the same city. As a strong supporter of school choice, she believes taxpayer dollars should be used to fund private, religious, and charter schools in order to encourage competition in public education, which ideally drives improvement.
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DeVos is sincere and open about the influence her Christian faith has on her way of thinking. She believes the centricity of the church has been displaced in current society by public education and that it is imperative to impact the culture with a Christian perspective.
7.) General John Kelly, Homeland Security
John Kelly served 45 years in the U.S. military. In 2010, his son Robert was killed while serving in Afghanistan as a Marine — making General Kelly the highest-ranking officer to lose a child to combat since 9/11. He has not publicly commented on his religious affiliation.
8.) Gov. Nikki Haley, Ambassador to the United Nations
Haley was born to a Sikh family but has since converted to Christianity. She attends a Methodist church and is known as a supporter of Israel.
9.) Reince Priebus, White House Chief of Staff
Priebus most recently served as Republican National Committee chairman. He is a lifelong member of the Greek Orthodox Church and met his wife at church when they were in high school.
10.) Neurosurgeon Ben Carson, Housing and Urban Development
Dr. Ben Carson is a member of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, as he noted in his book “Gifted Hands.” During his days as a practicing pediatric neurosurgeon, he used the healing power of prayer in his operating room. He also openly and proudly accepts the teachings of the church, which take the book of Genesis as a literal, historical recording of the creation of the world and humankind by God.
11.) Gov. Rick Perry, Energy Secretary
Perry was the longest-serving governor of Texas. As a practicing Christian, he currently attends a non-denominational evangelical church and is a former member of the Methodist Churches of Texas. He has unashamedly proclaimed his Christian faith and called upon the power of prayer publicly.
12.) Attorney General Scott Pruitt, Head of EPA
As the attorney general of Oklahoma for the last six years, Pruitt has been a harsh critic of the Environmental Protection Agency, the department he will soon lead. Even his biography on his website says Pruitt is a “leading advocate against the EPA’s activist agenda.”
Pruitt is a member of the First Baptist Church of Broken Arrow, Oklahoma, where he serves as a deacon. The church describes its beliefs as “both conservative in our theology and contemporary in our approach to ministry.”
13.) David Friedman, Ambassador to Israel
The New York bankruptcy lawyer has criticized both the two-state solution in the Middle East and left-leaning Jews. He himself is an Orthodox Jew. Orthodox Judaism traditionally worships one God, not The Trinity, as members of this faith do not recognize the existence of Jesus as Messiah or the Holy Spirit.
Katie Nations has been married for 15 years and is a working mother of three young children. She lives in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.