PAWLEYS ISLAND, S.C. – Donald Trump supporters in South Carolina on Friday were unmoved by Pope Francis’s comments the day before that were widely interpreted as a criticism of the Republican front-runner’s Christianity.
“A person who thinks only about building walls, wherever they may be, and not building bridges, is not Christian,” the Pope told journalists asking his opinion on the candidate’s plan to stop illegal immigration at the Mexican border.
“No leader, especially a religious leader, should have the right to question another man’s religion or faith,” Trump responded in a statement.
South Carolina voters outside Trump rallies in Myrtle Beach and Pawleys Island agreed.
“I think he was totally out of line – not Trump – the Pope was,” said Debbie Best, 53, a retired bank worker from Murrell’s Inlet, South Carolina. “If he believes in God, that’s all I care about.”
Jeremy Albright, a 32-year-old car dealer standing behind her in line, chimed in to concur. “If you need a doctor, you don’t care if he goes to your church, you just want the best one,” he said.
Brenda Graybill, a retired realtor from Pawleys Island, said no one, not even the Pope, has the right to question another person’s faith.
“I think Trump is as much of a Christian as anyone else,” she said, “but he’s just, you know, he’s very boisterous. But that’s what we need. That’s what we want. We’re sick of the mealy-mouthed people.”
All three said they were Trump supporters and that their votes would not be swayed by the episode.
In fact, Richard Duff, a 79-year-old retired marine from Pawleys Island, was such an ardent supporter that he was standing in line for a 3 p.m. rally despite having undergone surgery for carpal tunnel at 1 p.m.
“My wife told me, ‘you go home and go to bed,’ and I said, ‘no, I’m going to see Trump,’” Duff said. He added, “The Pope should stay out of politics.”