As a legendary bluegrass and country artist who is also a devout Christian, Ricky Skaggs frequently forges cross-cultural, genre-bending musical ideas. This weekend, he is turning his inspiration and prayers toward U.S. politics -- specifically to support Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump. "It's down to what's right and wrong, not what's right-standing or left-leaning. God hates shedding of innocent blood, and that's what's got my heart and spirit so stirred up in this particular election," proclaimed Skaggs.
"The most important thing to God is the sanctity of life. Our land has a blood curse on it due to abortion. As for me and my household, we will vote pro-life to serve the Lord."
Kentucky-born Skaggs, 62, an inductee of the Gospel Music Association and the Musicians Hall of Fame, also is a 14-time Grammy winner. He said although he doesn't believe Trump "is a saint," he does believe Trump is the obvious choice for the next U.S. president and that the Republican party will "uphold the mostly Godly principles."
"I love his [Trump's] enthusiasm and his fighting spirit. He's not going to let anyone bulldoze over him because he's a bulldozer himself. Mr. Trump is someone who tears down and rebuilds," said the musician who has always been a Republican. "I believe Donald Trump is the right person in the right place, and that it's prophetic."
In an exclusive interview with The Gospel Herald, Skaggs said he counts other factors among important voting decisions as jobs, security and "the rule of laws." He believes the Obama Administration has been "lawless," often governing through executive privilege, and that Hillary Clinton would continue down that path. "We've got to restore America to a nation of laws. God gave us the Ten Commandments; it's good to have laws," he said, which he believes Trump will try to do.
He also stated he feels President Barack Obama has "damaged" America's relationship with Israel, which bothers him deeply.
"I stand for Israel," said the artist, who is sometimes called the marketplace minister. "And the U.S. president represents all the people, with decisions reflecting on all of America. We need Israel to know all conservative Christians and Evangelicals don't feel the way being portrayed. We are lovers of Israel, our elder brothers."
Skaggs has been getting increasingly concerned about the fabric of U.S. religious liberty matters, citing what he perceives as public dislike from Democrats for conservatives, Christians, Catholics and Evangelicals. "Our God-given privilege is freedom of religion, which has come under real threats in the past few years within the Obama Administration. It's been a slap in the face to Christians. There would be riots if the same things were said about or done to Muslims, for example."
He said he wants to be free to share his personal messages of hope and to worship God without anyone getting in his face, a freedom premise he believes Trump supports.
Skaggs, a member of the Southern Baptist Church, said he and his wife also are attracted toward charismatic Christianity. "We love to visit other congregations, including Jewish synagogues. We enjoy fanning the flame of encouragement. When you love Jesus, you love people."
He said he has "felt the Lord's anger" in the past six months, however. "He is getting ready to show up in this election. In fact, I think He already has. God used Mr. Trump to shed light on the Republican party, the FBI, the justice system, and this whole election."
As someone who believes America needs "to press a reset button" regarding the care of U.S. military veterans, Skaggs said another reason to support Trump is that he believes Trump will straighten out veterans' health benefits. "We need someone who will strengthen the military of this greatest nation."
All in all, Skaggs said he is praying God will do a paradigm shift for America through this year's presidential election. "An unborn child in a mother's womb can be the most dangerous place to be in the United States. I'm in favor of conservative values, and believe that God is the only maker of life. Imagine how many dreams of God have been stolen away through aborted children. What if one of them had been given the gift from God to cure cancer or Alzheimer's?"
Skaggs said he believes God is looking at the church, which he defines as "believers," to be advocates of unborn children. "We need to vote and have our voices heard. Deciding not to vote, if it's because you don't particularly like Mr. Trump or some of the things he has said, is a vote for the other side."
Like many moments in the Bible, he said God takes simple things and makes lessons from them. He believes we are witnessing that now in the 2016 presidential election.
Skaggs' forward-thinking nature has served him well. By the time he was 21 years old, he was considered a "recognized master" of one of America's most demanding art forms. He launched his own country career in 1980, achieving 12 No. 1 hits, eight CMA awards and eight ACM awards. In 1982, he became a member of the Grand Ole Opry, the youngest to ever be inducted at that time.