Religious Leaders Rush To Trump's Defense After Pope Francis' Comments

"The pope is mistaken."

Religious leaders voiced support for Donald Trump after Pope Francis implied that the Republican presidential candidate is "not a Christian."

Liberty University president Jerry Falwell Jr., who is the son of the late televangelist Jerry Falwell, told CNN that "the pope is mistaken ... I do believe Trump is a Christian." He added that "JFK would be rolling over in his grave right now." Falwell has endorsed Trump for president.

Rev. Franklin Graham, the son of Evangelist minister Billy Graham, also defended Trump.

"My advice to the pontiff: Reach out and build a bridge to Donald Trump," he said on Facebook. "Who knows where he may be this time next year!" 

But it's not just evangelists who have Trump's back. Catholic League President Bill Donohue defended the former reality TV star and accused the media of twisting Pope Francis' words. 

"The pope was set up by the reporter," he said. "He's been lied to about what Trump has said." 

Pope Francis said on Thursday that "a person who only thinks about making walls again and again and not making bridges, is not a Christian." Trump has been outspoken about his views on undocumented immigrants, vowing to build a wall on the Mexican border and somehow make Mexico pay for it. 

Donohue didn't disagree with the pope's comments, but said that they didn't apply to Trump because his plans extend far beyond a wall. The Republican presidential frontrunner has also vowed to deport 11 million people, including parents and their children -- something we suspect the pope would also not endorse.

At a rally in Philadelphia last year, Pope Francis stressed the importance of "defending the cause of the poor and the immigrant." Addressing a crowd of over 20,000 immigrants, he also said that:

"You should never be ashamed of your traditions. Do not forget the lessons you learned from your elders, which are something you can bring to enrich the life of this American land."

CORRECTION: A previous version of this story indicated that Franklin Graham had endorsed Trump, but he has not made a formal endorsement.

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