Trump Announces Evangelical Executive Board, Some Evangelical Leaders Balk

NEW YORK, NY - JUNE 21: (L to R) Sealy Yates, founder of My Faith Votes, Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, and Kelly Shackelford, president of the First Liberty Institute, attend a press conference following a meeting with Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump at the Marriott Marquis Hotel, June 21, 2016 in New York City. Donald Trump held a private closed-press meeting with hundreds of conservative Christians and evangelical leaders on Tuesday morning.

By Published on June 22, 2016

Donald Trump met privately with evangelical leaders in New York Tuesday. At the end of the gathering his presidential campaign announced the formation of a fifteen-member Evangelical Executive Board. The Trump campaign release underscored that those on the board were not asked to endorse Trump in order to be named.

Members include former congresswoman and presidential candidate Michele Bachmann; Focus on the Family founder James Dobson; the Faith and Freedom Coalition’s Ralph Reed; Southern Baptist leader Richard Land; LIFE Today founder and host James Robison; and Jerry Falwell, Jr., president of Liberty University.

Week before last, Trump told the Faith & Freedom Coalition’s Road to Majority Conference, “We will restore faith to its proper mantle in our society … we will respect and defend Christian Americans.” Reed, the founder of the coalition, explained his support by saying, “We’re not looking for a political messiah because we already have a messiah. We don’t need to find one in the political arena. We understand that perfection is not the measure that should be applied, not to any political leader and not to any man or woman.”

The Board

Some on the new board, including Dobson, had been strong supporters of Ted Cruz and opponents of Trump. In March, Richard Land commented, “It must be said, before it is too late, that whatever the problems may be, Donald Trump is not the answer.”

Trump’s campaign said that forming the new board “represents Donald J. Trump’s endorsement of those diverse issues important to Evangelicals and other Christians, and his desire to have access to the wise counsel of such leaders as needed. Mr. Trump has received widespread support from Evangelical leaders, communities and voters, winning the majority of the Evangelical vote throughout the primaries.”

James Robison, founder of LIFE Outreach International and publisher of The Stream, said in a public statement that he was “privileged to share some concerns with Mr. Trump personally, and I will share insights with any candidate — anyone seeking any office — the principles I think are the most meaningful and upon which freedom was established and must remain in place for it to be sustained and preserved.”

“In my opinion, highly respected, effective church leaders attended this gathering, because Mr. Trump wanted to hear them and know their heartfelt concerns, as well as receive the insights and wisdom they offered,” Robison continued. “My prayer is that he will have humility and meekness to receive it through any channel or vessel God chooses.”

Others at the meeting who did not join the board spoke hopefully of Trump and his candidacy. The Susan B. Anthony List’s Marjorie Danenfelser said that Trump “came across very well as a messenger for everybody in the room, not just as a beneficiary of evangelical votes but as a fellow traveler. That’s not necessarily an easy distance for him to have traveled because people didn’t see him like that before. He made no missteps. There were no explosions.”

The Christian Conservative Opposition

Then there are those conservative Christian leaders who remain openly critical of the GOP presidential candidate. RNS lists seven who remain opposed to Trump. Among them are Russell Moore, new president of the Southern Baptist’s Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission (and successor to board member Richard Land); and best-selling Christian author Max Lucado.

Another is Princeton professor Robert P. George, once described by The New York Times as “this country’s most influential conservative Christian thinker.” Before the meeting George tweeted, “I have been a severe critic of Mr. Trump and there is nothing he could say at a meeting in which he is courting conservatives that would alter my low opinion of him.”

The Washington Post reported that before the gathering homeschooling and Christian right leader Michael Farris wrote on Facebook, “This meeting marks the end of the Christian Right.” At the founding of the Moral Majority in 1980, “the premise was that only candidates that reflected a biblical worldview and good character would gain our support,” Farris said, but now “a candidate whose worldview is greed and whose god is his appetites (Philippians 3) is being tacitly endorsed by this throng. … This is a day of mourning.”

In an email to CBS News, the Colson Center for Christian Worldview’s Warren Cole Smith called the board “a horrifying list, only vaguely representative of evangelical Christianity.”

The extent of support for Trump among evangelical voters remains a matter of debate. Biola University professor Darren Patrick Guerra told The Christian Post that “while a plurality of evangelical Republicans voted for Trump, the vast majority supported other candidates.” And because many evangelicals are Democrats or Independents, “the anti-Trump vote amongst all evangelicals in the country might reach 80–90% once non-Republican primary voters are accounted for. With these numbers it seems difficult to draw the conclusion that evangelicals widely support Trump.”

At the meeting Tuesday, Trump sought to make further inroads with conservative evangelicals, describing religious liberty as “the No. 1 question,” promising to end the ban on church groups championing political candidates, and insisting he would appoint pro-life justices to the Supreme Court.

The Membership

Other members of the Evangelical Executive Board according to the Trump campaign are Christian Cultural Center CEO A. R. Bernard; Tim Clinton, president of the American Association of Christian Counselors; evangelists Kenneth and Gloria Copeland and David Jeremiah; pastors Mark Burns, Jentezen Franklin, Jack Graham, Harry Jackson, Robert Jeffress, James MacDonald, Robert Morris, Tom Mullins and Paula White; two attorneys, Tom Winters and Sealy Yates; KAIROS Company president Johnnie Moore; Tony Suarez, the executive vice president of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference; and Jay Strack, president of the Student Leadership University.

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  • Cowboy

    Matthew 7:18-20
    “A good tree cannot produce bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot produce good fruit. Every tree producing bad fruit will be chopped down and burned. You can tell who the false prophets are by their deeds.”
    I will wait and see what Mr. Trump produces after this meeting.

    • JClarke

      Trump is running for President of the United States not Prophet-in-Chief.

      • Cowboy

        You have your standards, I have mine.

        • JClarke

          My standard is a simple one. Clinton and the Far-Left are attacking religious liberty and Christianity. Trump promises to defeat the Left and protect our Constitutional Rights.

      • James

        True Christians are not serving God so that they can become enslaved by a devil – it is the devil’s servants who are in a race to put a devil in charge of America.

        • JClarke

          When FDR, Kennedy, LBJ, and Clinton were president was the devil in charge of America?

  • Braden_Campbell

    This is a joke, surely.

    Donald Trump cares nothing for godly things. His actions and speech give ample proof of that.

    • fred2

      God has used men wracked by serious sin to do good works: David,
      Samson, Peter, Paul, Noah, etc.

      So why can’t God use Trump?

      • Stephen_Phelan

        He also used the Assyrians to punish the Chosen People. When God used men to do good it was because they had a huge conversion involving great fear and trembling. Trump laughs at the idea of conversion, finding in himself the perfect man. I pray for his conversion, as I do for my own and for others, but a man so full of himself has no room for God to call the shots.

        • fred2

          Samson was great at doing good for God (killing the Philistines) despite his ego and womanizing. It wasn’t until Samson was captured and blinded that he finally showed humility.

        • Plaza Liz

          So I take it you live in a Christian commune somewhere and do no business whatsoever with anyone who isn’t Christian? But even then somewhere down the line someone in that commune is surely relying on a non-Christian for something. How do you rationalize that? Where do you draw the line? Who gets to decide where the line is drawn? We have two people running for president. With all the information we have right at this moment, the choice couldn’t be more clear.

      • Braden_Campbell

        While you raise an interesting point… all of the men you cited either showed repentance for their deeds, lived lives dedicated to the Lord, or fully acknowledged that what they had in life was a gift bestowed by God.

        I don’t think Mr. Trump falls into any one of those categories, but is rather just pandering to a specific voting demographic. For our part, Christians should consider Paul’s advice to Timothy and have nothing to do with a candidate that is a lover of himself, boastful, proud, and abusive. {See, 2 Tim 3:1-5}

        • fred2

          Didn’t David become an adulterer and murderer years after God chose him as king?

          • Kelly Keith Dunn

            Donald is no David.

          • fred2

            I used David as a reminder that even a leader who is clearly a believer can still fall due to ego. David is just the tip of the iceberg of such examples in the Bible.

        • Plaza Liz

          You were correct to say you don’t “think” Mr. Trump falls into one of those categories, because Jesus alone knows his heart. What is so baffling is that any of us who claim to be disciples of Jesus could point at anyone in the secular world while the Church is crippling along, lacking in discernment, influenced by the world much more than being an influence to the world. We are called to be good stewards of everything with which we’re entrusted. Our country is a gift for which we are responsible to make decisions regarding its welfare. We are under leadership and do business every day of our lives with people who are not Christians. Our grocer, dry cleaner, attorney, doctor, hair stylist, CPA, car dealer, boss or any of the various people we rely on throughout our lives to accomplish specific purposes are not all Christians. But the Lord led us to each one of them as well as the business associates and neighbors who’ve become friends. We are called to love them as Jesus loves us, be the salt and light they so desperately need. So will I get involved in elections whether or not a Christian is running for President? You’d better believe it. There is almost always a better choice and I take the stewardship and talent recommendations seriously. When I read the hateful comments under articles like this I am appalled by the kind of self-righteousness that exemplifies that of the Pharisees. Have we forgotten the Ashley Madison scandal so quickly? Any Christian with an ounce of discernment has to realize that’s only the tip of the iceberg compared to what’s going on under the surface in the Body of Christ. We need to get on our faces and ask the Lord to search our own hearts (instead of guessing about the state of someone else’s) and to revive the Church before we even think about holding the secular world to any kind of standard. If the Body of Christ was living as Jesus intended this topic wouldn’t even be on the radar.

      • James

        It is ludicrous and contemptable for any Christian to imply that God instructs His people to elect a godless and pornographic man to lead their nation. Those who continue to push for the election of Trump are, in effect, saying that American Christianity is so bankrupt of leadership that they can’t find a single Christian leader to promote as president. To those professional pulpiteers who are meeting with Trump and serving as his salesmen to Christians – just what kind of backroom offer did you accept from him: A Christian TV network? An expansion of Liberty University? A place at Jezebel’s Table? Judgment is going to come in fierceness and in fury upon the houses of those who justified their pimping for this godless charlatan.

        • #HePersisted

          You must feel like quite a fool now.

  • karen

    Well, it’s Clinton Or Trump…I don’t want Clinton and four more years of this.

    • fred2

      Ditto.

  • davidrev17

    Would someone please enlighten me, as to just how these politically savvy “evangelical
    leaders,” whose primary “citizenship is in heaven” (Phil. 3:20) – meaning they occupy the “Kingdom of Light” – can nonetheless find a way to simultaneously make peace, or perhaps compromise? with a self-obsessed political aspirant who’s clearly comfortable in his arrogantly unregenerate (“fallen”) condition, not to mention him still being a citizen in the “kingdom of darkness,” or “the first Adam.”

    Will this impressive gathering of ostensible movers-and-shakers in the Body of Christ – I thought we were supposed to be slaves [“doulos”], or “bondservants” of Christ Jesus anyway? – be allowed/permitted to influence Mr. Trump, should he be elected president, in trying to pass strict scripturally-based legislation, in a democratic country that’s plainly not a theocracy?

    I mean, we’re talking the twin-realities, or polar opposites of light & darkness taking place here; whose intrinsic spiritual properties in both non-physical realms, certifiably ensures that a profound oppositional collision of morally-premised priorities, in American public policy initiatives, SHOULD naturally result from such a mutually-beneficial political association – that is, if the “ambassadors for Christ” are indeed standing uncompromisingly in the political arena.

    Also, what about: “be not unequally yoked together with unbelievers [in spiritual enterprise]: for what fellowship [communion] does righteousness have with unrighteousness? And what communion does light have with darkness?” (2 Corinthians 6:14)

    The United States of America is “of THIS [dark] world” – case closed; and as such, the so-called “Church” here in God Bless America needs to be pursuing the Great Commission and/or Kingdom business alone – and nothing else. Because one day, and perhaps soon, “…The kingdom of THIS WORLD, will become the Kingdom of our Lord, and of His Messiah; and He shall reign forever and ever.” (Revelation 11:15)

  • davidrev17, I was at the NYC event where the GOP presumptive nominee discussed priorities in Trump’s administration. He outlined, ‘religious liberty, jobs and judges.’ I was persuaded that he will deliver on these campaign promises — just as Hillary Clinton would deliver on hers.

    Would Trump be the better choice over Clinton?

    Cheers,
    Jack

    • davidrev17

      Mr. Yoest, thank you for the reply sir; however, I’m not sure if you actually tried to acquire an understanding as to the thesis of my post? The thrust, or focal point of my words, was actually the biblically-based role (or primary responsibility) of the “Body of Christ” in any society – atheistic, or otherwise. We, the “Church” in the U.S., have corporately lost sight of that unyielding biblical premise for decades now in good ol’ God Bless America…our now plurastically pithy “nationalistic battle-cry.”

      And please note, that I definitely don’t subscribe to a “lesser of two-evils” approach either, when it comes to Christians voting for a candidate; this is simply because the job of the “regenerated” disciple/follower of Yeshua/Jesus remains the same – regardless of their geographical location on planet earth.

      For example, just consider the role of the ancient church we find being lived-out within the pages of the New Testament, while “they” functioned as slaves under the brutally oppressive “yoke” of Roman-rule? Additionally, consider how Christians live their lives in places such as the extremely repressive, atheist-dominated nation of China; or perhaps those Christians suffering unimaginably under the religious excesses on display in Muslim countries, where “Sharia Law” is the rule-of-thumb for those Christian infidels (et al.) regarded as “dhimmi’s”?

      Jack, I humbly ask you to at least consider the following excerpt from a powerfully illuminating (2008) book by theologian/pastor, Dr. Erwin Lutzer, entitled, “Is God on America’s Side: The Surprising Answer and How it Affects Our Future”:

      * * *

      “Second, we have to again address the question, ‘What is the role of the church in government’? Unfortunately, many books written on this subject assume that the Christian community is able to change the culture through political muscle and electing the right people into office. The premise is that if Christians elevate the moral climate of our nation, more people will believe the Gospel, and God will be more likely to bless the United States.

      “But we need to rethink the relative value of such moralism at a time when American society is in a moral and political freefall. Once we Christians bring ourselves more closely into line with God’s agenda for America, we might be better prepared to address our political and spiritual crisis. This book is written with the deep conviction that we should be involved in politics, but in such a way that the church always maintains its independence. We must never allow the impression that the cross is a political message but one of personal redemption in all its implications.”

      * * *

      And one final observation my friend: should you ever find the time, please locate (and listen closely) to the biblically incisive 4-part (or 3-part?) sermon, “A Radical Alternative to Political Activism,” by the biblical scholar & pastor, Dr. John MacArthur.

      Thank you again, and may the “only true and living God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob,” richly bless you and yours immensely Mr. Yoest. Have a great day!

  • Kelly Keith Dunn

    The “Board” reflects a small percentage of Conservative Christians. “Of two evils choose neither.” ~ C. H. Spurgeon

    • fred2

      Do you have evidence to back your claim?

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