Donald Trump on Wednesday lashed out at Jewish voters who back President Joe Biden and framed this year's election as a referendum on the strength of Christianity in the U.S., part of his sharp-edged continuing appeal to evangelical conservatives who are a critical element of his political base.

What You Need To Know

  • Donald Trump has stirred religious controversy again in his presidential comeback bid, lashing out at Jewish voters who back President Joe Biden and framing Election Day as a referendum on Christianity’s strength in America
  • Jews who support Biden “should have their head examined,” he said
  • Trump made his comments Wednesday as part of his continuing criticism of Biden’s reaction to the Israel-Hamas war and of Biden's support for the rights of transgender persons
  • Trump accused Biden of abandoning Israel. He also said Election Day would be Christian Visibility Day, a response to the recent Transgender Day of Visibility that fell on Easter Sunday this year, angering many conservative Christians when Biden issued an official recognition

Speaking in Atlanta ahead of a fundraiser, the presumptive Republican nominee renewed his running criticism of Biden's reaction to the Israel-Hamas war and the administration's support for the rights of LGBTQ Americans, including transgender persons.

“Biden has totally lost control of the Israel situation,” said Trump, whose rise in 2016 depended heavily on white Christian conservatives. “Any Jewish person who votes for a Democrat or votes for Biden should have their head examined.”

Trump spoke after Biden last week warned Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that future U.S. support for Israel’s Gaza war depends on the swift implementation of new steps to protect civilians and aid workers.

In Trump’s interpretation, Biden “has totally abandoned Israel.”

The Gaza conflict has sandwiched Biden between conservatives – both Christian and Jewish – who want stalwart support for Netanyahu’s government, and progressives. The matter is important to conservative Christians, among Trump’s most supportive constituencies, who see the political state of Israel as the modern manifestation of God’s chosen people, the Israelites of the Old Testament in the Christian Bible.

Biden’s left flank, though, is dominated by progressives incensed by Israel’s retaliation in Gaza that has resulted in thousands of Palestinian deaths. The president has repeatedly been greeted by protesters throughout his spring travels, and activists have organized votes against Biden in many Democratic primaries, even as he coasts to renomination.

The president’s campaign pushed back on Wednesday.

“Jewish Americans do not need to be ‘spoken to’ or threatened by Donald Trump,” said Biden spokesman James Singer. “This is what Trump does, using division and hate as political weapons while seeking power for himself. Voters of all stripes will reject his chaos, violence and unhinged threats once again in November.”

In Georgia, Trump stoked his Christian base anew by putting the Election Day stakes in religious terms.

“November 5th is the most important day in the history our country, and it’s going to be Christian Visibility Day,” Trump said, repeating for emphasis: “Christian Visibility Day.”

Christians, he predicted “are going to come out, and they’re going to vote like never before.”

The former president was nodding to conservative Christian anger over the International Transgender Day of Visibility, a worldwide celebration of transgender persons and acknowledgement of their struggles, and Biden’s recognition of the occasion.

The observance traces its origins to 2009 but it has grown in prominence, and this year coincided with Easter Sunday, the holiest day of the Christian calendar. When Biden, a Catholic, issued a March 29 proclamation declaring the same Sunday to be the official Transgender Day of Visibility in the United States, conservatives reacted with a social media firestorm, with some commenters even suggesting Biden and his aides deliberately set the date to insult Christians.

“Today, we send a message to all transgender Americans: You are loved. You are heard. You are understood. You belong,” Biden said in the proclamation. “You are America, and my entire administration and I have your back.”

Most of the president’s critics ignored the fact that he separately issued a statement on Easter itself, specifically reflecting his own faith.

“Easter reminds us of the power of hope and the promise of Christ’s Resurrection,” Biden said. “As we gather with loved ones, we remember Jesus’ sacrifice. We pray for one another and cherish the blessing of the dawn of new possibilities. And with wars and conflict taking a toll on innocent lives around the world, we renew our commitment to work for peace, security, and dignity for all people.

“From our family to yours,” Biden concluded, “happy Easter and may God bless you.”

Notably, Trump on Wednesday also emphasized his stance on abortion, insisting that the matter should be left to state governments and that, even there, Republicans should not pursue absolute bans — an overall approach that puts the former president to the left of the most outspoken activists on the Christian right. On that matter, however, Trump did not invoke religious doctrines and loyalties.