Bishop of Liverpool criticises Christian Trump supporters

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Donald TrumpImage source, Reuters

A Church of England bishop has criticised American religious leaders who support Donald Trump, saying they cannot justify their Christian faith.

The Bishop of Liverpool, the Right Reverend Paul Bayes, told the Guardian some evangelical leaders were "uncritically accepting" of things said by the US president and his allies.

He said it amounted to collusion with a system that builds walls not bridges.

Mr Trump has previously said he is proud to be Christian.

Bishop Bayes told the newspaper: "Some of the things that have been said by religious leaders seem to collude with a system that marginalises the poor, a system which builds walls instead of bridges, a system which says people on the margins of society should be excluded, a system which says we're not welcoming people any more into our country."

A travel ban currently prevents nationals of Chad, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Syria and Yemen from entering the US.

The president has also backed an immigration overhaul that would end diversity lottery visas and curb the number of refugees offered permanent residency in the US.

And last month, a presidential order to cut funding from US cities that refuse to co-operate with immigration officials and his administration's ban on transgender people from serving in the military were both blocked by judges.

Archbishop sermon

Bishop Bayes, who became the eighth Bishop of Liverpool in 2014, said people were free to support right-wing populism, but questioned how that would relate to the Christian faith.

"Whenever people say those kinds of things, they need to be able to justify that they're saying those things as Christians, and I do not believe it's justifiable," he said.

But the bishop also stressed that not all evangelicals were Trump supporters.

He was speaking to mark the launch of the Ozanne Foundation, a charity aimed at eliminating discrimination based on sexuality or gender.

His comments follow the Archbishop of Canterbury's Christmas sermon, in which the Most Rev Justin Welby criticised "populist leaders" but did not specifically name Mr Trump.

And last year, the Pope questioned Mr Trump's Christianity over his call to build a border wall with Mexico.

Pope Francis said "a person who thinks only about building walls... and not of building bridges, is not Christian".

In response, Mr Trump, who has since met the Pope, said: "For a religious leader to question a person's faith is disgraceful. I am proud to be a Christian."