How One Latino Pastor Became a Foot Soldier for Trump

On a recent Tuesday evening, two teenage boys approached their pastor, Camilo Perez, before Bible study. They wanted his take on a debate that had been gnawing at them. Their friends from a local public high school had been talking about discrimination against Latinos. Did the pastor agree? Does the government give white people more power?

“No, no, no. That’s not true. We are not in oppression. Everybody here has the same rights,” Mr. Perez recalled telling the boys in a mini-sermon that hit on some of his favorite themes: freedom in the United States, scarcity and repression in Latin America and the dangers of what he views as liberals’ notions of victimhood.

“This is an agenda against the country,” he told them. “They are trying to put confusion in your mind, and they are trying to bully you to be against your country, against everything.”

It was not the first time the pastor’s counsel was more worldly than spiritual. As he ministers to a growing flock of 250 families in the dusty suburbs of Las Vegas, Mr. Perez has transformed from a leader who rarely acknowledged politics to an eager foot soldier in the cultural and political battles in his adopted country.

It is a path traversed by a growing number of Latino evangelicals, a group that is helping reshape and re-energize the Republican coalition. Long the party of white, conservative Christian voters, the G.O.P. has for years quietly courted Latino religious leaders like Mr. Perez, finding common ground on abortion, schools and traditional views about gender roles and family.

Donald J. Trump is now reaping the rewards of that work. Polls show his support among Hispanic voters hitting levels not seen for a Republican president in 20 years. If he wins the White House, he will have people like Mr. Perez — little-known figures with underappreciated power — to thank.

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