The following comes from a May 23 LA Times article by Kate Linthicum:
Samuel Rodriguez is the kind of Latino whom Republicans hoped they could count on in 2016.
An evangelical Christian pastor who opposes the Democratic Party’s stance on abortion and same-sex marriage, Rodriguez led a prayer onstage at the 2012 GOP national convention. This election cycle, he publicly praised Republican leaders including Jeb Bush, Mike Huckabee and Marco Rubio.
Then Donald Trump became the party’s presumptive nominee. Now Rodriguez doesn’t know what to think.
Trump’s calls for mass deportations “have offended me and my community,” said Rodriguez, who heads the National Hispanic Leadership Conference. “Those are our parishioners.”
A record 27 million Latinos will be eligible to participate in the November general election, a figure that includes a rising number of evangelical Christians.
While a majority of Latino adults still belong to the Catholic Church, more and more are embracing evangelical Christianity, according to Pew Research Center. The percentage of Latinos who identify as evangelical or born-again Christian rose from 12% in 2010 to 16% in 2013, according to Pew.
Evangelical Latinos, who tend to hold more conservative social views than their Catholic and non-religious counterparts, have long been viewed as potential recruits for the GOP. According to Pew, they are more likely to identify as Republicans than are other Latinos.
But Trump’s attacks on the immigrant community have forced some Latino evangelicals to put identity politics ahead of their religious beliefs.
Next month, several hundred conservative leaders plan to meet privately with Trump to address concerns about his candidacy. The meeting, which was arranged by former presidential candidate Ben Carson, is expected to include some Latino leaders.
Some of those evangelical Latino leaders are winnable for Trump.
Sergio De La Mora, who helps lead a Latino megachurch in San Diego, said he admires Trump’s business experience and doesn’t feel personally offended by his rhetoric on immigration.
That might be because he and his congregants have long ties to the U.S. and little connection to illegal immigration, he said.
“Most people really don’t care about that,” said De La Mora, who said he is considering voting for Trump.
The Rev. Walter Contreras, a pastor in Pasadena, said simply giving Trump a platform to speak was dangerous.
Some evangelical leaders appear eager to forgive Trump because they can’t stomach supporting Democrats, he said. He and other Christian leaders who share his views have led a campaign to counter that, recently writing a letter in which they said supporting Trump is the same thing as supporting his anti-immigrant message.
“We’re not going to tolerate that kind of rhetoric,” Contreras said. “It’s very destructive. It’s very real. It’s too late.”