As Donald Trump praised the expansion of Bible literacy in schools this week, Pastor David Lewicki, who served as an associate pastor at the president’s family church in New York City for approximately five years, said the president should also apply Bible literacy to his daily life to help him more actively live out his faith.
Lewicki’s advice to the commander-in-chief comes after Trump tweeted Monday: "Numerous states introducing Bible Literacy classes, giving students the option of studying the Bible. Starting to make a turn back? Great!"
In his instant reaction to Trump’s praise of Bible literacy, Lewicki, who is currently a co-pastor at North Decatur Presbyterian Church in Georgia, revealed his affiliation with the historic Marble Collegiate Church in New York City where Trump’s family worshiped for years.
“I was @realDonaldTrump's pastor for 5 years @MarbleChurch. I assure you, he had the ‘option’ to come to Bible study. He never ‘opted’ in. Nor did he ever actually enter the church doors. Not one time,” Lewicki wrote in a tweet Tuesday morning. He also noted that he wasn’t aware of any financial contribution from Trump during his time at the church.
In an interview with The Christian Post Wednesday, Lewicki said he served on Marble Collegiate’s pastoral staff from 2004 to 2010 and not once did he notice Trump at the church’s Bible study even though he seems to be supportive of Bible literacy now.
“I led Wednesday night worship services and I was present every Sunday to lead worship services,” Lewicki said.
“To my knowledge, no one ever saw President Trump in that time while I was there. So he was not a visible and active member of our congregation while he was on the membership rolls during that time,” he added.
In 2015, as Trump campaigned for the presidency he declared that he attended the Marble Collegiate.
The church released a statement then, however, saying he was an inactive member.
"Donald Trump has had a longstanding history with Marble Collegiate Church, where his parents were for years active members and one of his children was baptized. However, as he indicates, he is a Presbyterian, and is not an active member of Marble," the church said.
Marble Collegiate Church is not a Presbyterian church but it is a part of the Reformed Church in America.
Asked if the president could have been taking private Bible lessons during his time at Marble Collegiate, Lewicki said it was possible but unlikely.
“He may have had a relationship with the senior minister and they may have talked in private. I think that is entirely possible. If I had to hazard a guess, I would say that they did not have a relationship but they could have,” he said.
While he refused to comment on the level of spiritual care and Bible instruction the president is currently receiving from his spiritual adviser, Paula White, Lewicki said the importance of faith in the president’s personal life at the moment appears questionable.
“I think it’s important that Christians invite one another into mutual accountability. And for myself, and I think for many others, his actions, his demeanor, and his character are not indicative of someone who takes God and Jesus seriously. And so when he talks about faith and the importance of faith for people’s lives, I think it is fair for people to raise questions about the importance of faith in his own life,” the Georgia pastor explained when asked why he chose to criticize the president’s celebration of Bible literacy.
Asked if he believed Trump has been good for Christianity in America, Lewicki declined sharing a response but said he is praying that the president will begin demonstrating more of his Christian faith.
“I would love to see the evidence of his relationship with God in his words and his deeds and I pray that we will,” Lewicki said.
To help the president on his way to Christian enlightenment, Lewicki suggested that he spend more time with the poor and in the four Gospels of the Bible.
“I would say that it is impossible to understand Christianity unless you are spending significant time walking alongside and befriending people who are materially poor. And so I would say read the Gospels and make time in your life to listen to and support people who are currently experiencing material poverty,” the pastor advised.