President Donald Trump told leaders of the evangelical Christian movement on Monday that the upcoming midterm elections were a “referendum on your religion,” NBC News reported Tuesday, based on recorded excerpts of Trump’s remarks that were shared with the network.
“The level of hatred, the level of anger is unbelievable,” Trump told the Christians assembled at the White House, referring to their opponents as “violent people.”
“Part of it is because of some of the things I’ve done for you and for me and for my family, but I’ve done them,” he said, per NBC News. “This Nov. 6th election is very much a referendum on not only me, it’s a referendum on your religion, it’s a referendum on free speech and the First Amendment.”
“You’re one election away from losing everything that you’ve got,” he said separately.
“They will overturn everything that we’ve done and they’ll do it quickly and violently, and violently” if the GOP loses, Trump said, per the report. “There’s violence. When you look at Antifa and you look at some of these groups — these are violent people.”
Trump also repeated a familiar lie and talking point to evangelicals that he’d gotten “rid of” the Johnson Amendment — a decades-old law restricting direct political activity by non-profits and religious institutions. Trump doesn’t have the power to single-handedly abolish the amendment.