'Quiet Christian' Donald Trump Planned to Build Megachurch, Longtime Pastor Says

Donald Trump's longtime personal pastor described his "quiet Christian" faith and revealed the real estate billionaire once wanted to build a megachurch.

Florida televangelist Paula White, who officially joined the Trump administration's Faith and Opportunity Initiative Thursday, said Trump is a good Christian follower even though he may not quote the Bible like former President Bill Clinton.

Speaking with the Washington Examiner Friday, White said Trump initiated plans to build a grandiose "glass cathedral" in 2006, even hiring on an architect to pursue the project. White ultimately said the timing wasn't right on her end and the project fell through, but she recalled her and Trump's longtime religious relationship in a series of interviews this week promoting her latest book.

"It was part of a dream," she told the Washington Examiner. "He said, 'Let's build a crystal cathedral for God," echoing that of the Roman Catholic Christ Cathedral in Garden Grove, California. "He wanted to build a house of God. He said, 'Let's do this, let's build this before we're too old.'"

White, a television preacher based in Florida, said Trump asked for her prayers to "intensify" in 2014, when he made it clear to her he was going to run for president.

White and Trump have a close history together going back to 2002, when she told The New York Times they met after he called her following an appearance on a Christian televangelist show. White wrote and delivered the invocation at Trump's January 2017 presidential inauguration in Washington, becoming the first clergywoman to lead the inaugural prayer. Additionally, she prayed with Trump before he went onstage to accept the Republican Party's nomination for president in Cleveland in 2016.

Trump's religious beliefs have long been the target of scrutiny from Christian and political critics alike despite enjoying overwhelming support from U.S. evangelicals and Protestants. In 2015, Trump told South Carolina campaign rally attendees he is a "Presbyterian Protestant. I go to Marble Collegiate Church," a Fifth Avenue house of worship located just south of Trump Tower. But the church issued a statement soon after saying he is "not an active member."

Trump stirred further controversy over his claims to the Christian faith after declaring on the campaign trail in 2015 that his "second favorite book" is The Art of Deal, narrowly losing out to the other book on his nightstand: the Bible.

White is the author of two books, including her most recent entitled, Something Greater: Finding Triumph over Trials. In January 2016, White penned The God of Timing: The Mystery and Blessing of God's Holy Appointments.

"He is a Christian," White said of Trump in her interview with the Examiner, noting he doesn't quote scripture publicly like former President Bill Clinton "He doesn't know 'Christian-ese,' most people don't."

Trump's spiritual adviser previously defended Trump's Christian faith in March, again claiming the president doesn't speak "Christian-ese" like many outward religious figures. In November 2018, White penned a piece supporting Trump's progress with the Prison Reform First Step Act, taking a jab at Clinton's "infamous crime law...that led to racially discriminatory outcomes and increased prison overcrowding."

White told the New York Post recently that the impeachment investigation "wears on" Trump, but said she is unconcerned about his 2020 reelection chances. "I've never seen the base more energized than it is now."

On Thursday, White retweeted Ivanka Trump's Twitter message to her father in which she quoted a letter from Thomas Jefferson to his daughter Martha: "...[S]urrounded by enemies and spies catching and perverting every word that falls from my lips or flows from my pen, and inventing where facts fail them.' ... Some things never change, dad!"

White, who the Times described as having been married three times and living in a mansion, is only the latest Christian pastor to defend Trump from his political critics.

Evangelical Christian Pastor Perry Stone, who founded Perry Stone Ministries, last week said Democrats are "trying to place hexes and curses on President Trump. Satan hates this man."

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Trump's longtime personal pastor said he once tried to build a glass cathedral megachurch and described him as a "quiet Christian" who doesn't need to quote the Bible. Win McNamee/Getty Images