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Reuters - Two prominent religious conservatives defended U.S. President Donald Trump on Sunday after he was widely criticized for blaming both white nationalists and counter-protesters for last weekend's violence at a Virginia rally organized by neo-Nazis and white supremacists.

Evangelical Christian Jerry Falwell Jr said Trump could be more polished and politically correct but is not racist. Former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee, who last week criticized the white nationalists' "evil, sinful, disgusting behavior," said unequivocally on Sunday that the faith community stood by Trump.

The responses reflect a balancing act by conservative Christians as they try to square the images that emerged from the Virginia city of Charlottesville last weekend - torch-carrying white supremacists and neo-Nazis toting swastika flags - with support for a president that failed to condemn them roundly and immediately.

Trump alienated fellow Republicans, corporate leaders and U.S. allies with his comments about the violence that broke out at a white nationalist protest against the removal of a Confederate statue in Charlottesville. He said "many sides" were to blame and that there were "very fine people" on both sides.

Trump also decried the removal of Civil War monuments to the Confederacy that several cities have deemed offensive for their connection to slavery.

But the remarks, including those at a fiery Trump news conference on Tuesday, may not dent support from his political base, where white evangelical Christian voters are a major component.

Many in the evangelical Christian community condemned the neo-Nazis, Ku Klux Klan and other white supremacists who marched in the University of Virginia town before one of them plowed through a crowd of counter-protesters and killed a 32-year-old woman.

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