Trumpgelicals Unite Behind Bloviating Strutting Trickster
Bill Berkowitz printable version print page     Bookmark and Share
Tue Jun 28, 2016 at 10:57:28 AM EST
Is it the end of the Christian Right as we know it, or is it the beginning of a beautiful relationship? Michael Farris, chancellor of Patrick Henry College, chairman of the Home School Legal Defense Association, and a longtime conservative evangelical leader, claimed in an op-ed piece for The Christian Post that the meeting of 1,000 conservative Christian leaders with Donald Trump "marks the end of the Christian Right." Tim Wildmon, president of the American Family Association, believes that "it was admirable and honorable for Trump to meet with Christian leaders. [because] [h]e is not our enemy."
About a thousand evangelical leaders met with Donald Trump in New York City on Tuesday, June 21, in a meeting convened by Dr. Ben Carson and an organization called My Faith Votes. According to The Washington Post's Michelle Boorstein and Julie Zauzmer, "Trump won a standing ovation from hundreds of Christian conservatives who came to [the meeting] with a somewhat skeptical but willing attitude toward a man who has divided their group with comments on women, immigrants and Islam."

The Christian Post's Samuel Smith reported that Trump "told the crowd he has his religion to thank for the blessings that have been placed in his life." Trump pointed out that he won several states with a high proportion of evangelical voters. And, he urged the attendees to pray for everyone but pray that the people vote for "one specific person"; that person being Trump.

"Some of the people are saying, 'let's pray for our leaders.' I said, 'You can pray for your leaders, and I agree with that, pray for everyone. But what you really have to do is pray to get everyone out to vote for one specific person,'" Trump said, according to a video posted by conservative Virginia pastor and founder of the S.T.A.N.D. conservative non-profit organization E.W. Jackson. "We can't be politically correct and say we pray for all of our leaders because all of your leaders are selling Christianity down the tubes and selling evangelicals down the tubes and it is a very bad thing that is happening."

Farris, who wrote that he "attended the very first meeting of the Moral Majority held in Indianapolis in February 1980," and was the Washington state director of the MM, wasn't invited to the meeting because, an organizer of the gathering reported, he had "been too vocal in my anti-Trump views."

According Farris, it is totally hypocritical for Christian Right leaders to support Trump because the presumptive nominee's "worldview is greed and [his] god is his appetites." Farris concluded by writing "This is a day of mourning."

Meanwhile, back at the meeting, Trump seemed to receive quite a positive reception. According to Wildmon's report on the meeting, "Franklin Graham prayed to open the event. Dr. Ben Carson spoke and told us about the Donald Trump he had come to appreciate. Gov. Mike Huckabee served as moderator and sat across from Mr. Trump."  

Trump was asked questions about religious liberty - calling it "the No. 1 question" -- support for Israel, potential Supreme Court nominees and abortion. Wildmon noted that he "thought his strongest answers were about the type of judges he would appoint. I believe he fully understands the importance of this issue and said all his judges would be vetted by the Federalist Society -- a stalwart conservative organization. To me, this may be the most important issue of this campaign from the perspective of AFA and our supporters."

Trump also told folks that he would be a combatant in the "War On Christmas," and that "he says `Merry Christmas' and thinks the PC crowd just wants to change the greeting to something more generic because it's another attempt to diminish the role of Christianity in America."

Wildmon also pointed out, as many Trump supporters have as they rationalize his behavior, that he "met several people who have known Donald Trump personally for several years and said he is not the brash, arrogant, sometimes rude person he appears to be on television."

The Washington Post's Boorstein and Zauzmer reported that Zauzmer "While polls show that the majority of evangelicals -- who make up about a fifth of the country -- are favorable toward Trump, his campaign has bitterly divided Christian conservatives in general. Those who oppose him do so strongly, and later Tuesday, a separate group of conservatives -- including leading evangelicals -- were meeting to strategize about a possible third candidate. Some leading Christian conservatives used the meeting to speak out against Trump and his comments about immigrants, women, Muslims and others."

The Post report also noted that "Catholic conservative Robert George, former chair of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom and a Princeton professor, declined to attend the meeting, saying that while he may think even lower of Hillary Clinton, he fears Trump will `in the end, bring disgrace upon those individuals and organizations who publicly embrace him. For those of us who believe in limited government, the rule of law, flourishing institutions of civil society and traditional Judeo-Christian moral principles, and who believe that our leaders must be persons of integrity and good character, this election is presenting a horrible choice. May God help us.`"

After the event, Team Trump announced an "evangelical executive board," which included 21 names: 20 men and one woman, former congresswoman Michele Bachmann. Others on the list included Focus on the Family founder James Dobson (who is no longer with that group), former Christian Coalition head Ralph Reed, and Jery Falwell Jr. of Liberty University.

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