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church and Trump
September 6, 2016

Donald Trump identifies himself as a Presbyterian, but he hasn't regularly attended Presbyterian services since his family started attending Marble Collegiate Church in midtown Manhattan more than 50 years ago. Trump was confirmed at First Presbyterian Church in Jamaica, Queens, at about age 13 in 1959, but in the 1960s, the Trump family started attending Marble, on Fifth Avenue, because of the preacher, Rev. Norman Vincent Peale, whose 1952 book extolling the "power of positive thinking" helped make him a wealthy man. Peale presided at Trump's first wedding, to Ivana Trump, and Peale's successor, Rev. Arthur Caliandro, married Trump and his second wife, Marla Maples, who also attended Marble.

Trump told The New York Times he isn't sure he ever officially joined Marble, which was affiliated with the Reformed Church in America, and said, "I haven't been back since Dr. Caliandro passed away," three years ago. Last year, Marble Collegiate issued a statement saying that Trump is not "an active member" of the church. Peale preached that it is possible to be wealthy and spiritually successful, and Trump and his father, Fred Trump, were big fans. Trump calls Peale "a great preacher and a great public speaker," and the admiration was mutual. "When the service was over, you said, 'I'd have sat there for another hour,'" Trump told The Times. "There aren't too many people like that. It wasn't the speaking ability, it was the thought process."

Today, Marble Collegiate is "inclusive," says current senior minister Dr. Michael B. Brown, "whether you're talking about race, age, politics, sexuality, economics, or gender." He wouldn't comment directly on Trump's statements this election, but he told The New York Times, "There is a difference in the world of politics and the world of church, and in the world of church, we are compelled by Jesus' commandment — it wasn't a suggestion or a request — it was, I command that you love one another." You can read more about Trump's religious experience at The New York Times. Peter Weber

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