Donald Trump met with some 1000 evangelical leaders at Trump Tower in New York City yesterday. He promised them that he would end the ban on politicking for tax-exempt organizations like churches. He also said that he would appoint anti-abortion Supreme Court justices. He also said that he would emphasize religious liberty, including allowing government employees to offer sectarian prayer in public and making department store employees say “Merry Christmas.”
The Washington Post said that the attendees were thrilled with Trump, but his critics among evangelicals were not invited. One of them, recalling the movement’s former insistence on moral character, said that the spectacle marks “the end of the Christian right.”
What do you think about this?
Donald Trump won a standing ovation from hundreds of Christian conservatives who came to New York City on Tuesday with a somewhat skeptical but willing attitude toward a man who has divided their group with comments on women, immigrants and Islam. In his comments, the presumptive GOP presidential nominee said he would end the decades-old ban on tax-exempt groups’ — including churches — politicking, called religious liberty “the No. 1 question,” and promised to appoint antiabortion Supreme Court justices.
“I think maybe that will be my greatest contribution to Christianity — and other religions — is to allow you, when you talk religious liberty, to go and speak openly, and if you like somebody or want somebody to represent you, you should have the right to do it,” Trump said. A ban was put in place by President Lyndon Johnson on tax-exempt groups making explicit political endorsements. Religious leaders in America today, Trump said, “are petrified.”
As president, he said, he’d work on things including: “freeing up your religion, freeing up your thoughts. You talk about religious liberty and religious freedom, you don’t have any religious freedom if you think about it,” he told the group, which broke in many times with applause.
Throughout the talk Trump emphasized that America was hurting due to what he described as Christianity’s slide to become “weaker, weaker, weaker.” He said he’d get department store employees to say “Merry Christmas” and would fight restrictions on public employees, such as public school coaches, from being allowed to lead sectarian prayer on the field.
The audience included leaders and founders of many segments of the Christian Right, the evangelical movement that began in the 1970s under people including the late Jerry Falwell. Among those present and involved in the program Tuesday were Focus on the Family founder James Dobson (who is no longer with that group), former Christian Coalition head Ralph Reed and evangelist Franklin Graham (son of evangelical icon Billy Graham).
But also read this statement from my former colleague Mike Farris:
I attended the very first meeting of the Moral Majority held in Indianapolis in February of 1980. I was the Washington state director of the MM and have been a leader of the “Christian right” ever since.
Today an estimated 1,000 evangelical leaders are making a pilgrimage to Trump Tower to “listen” to Donald Trump.
The organizer of this meeting came to my office to tell me in person why I wasn’t being invited. I had been too vocal in my anti-Trump views.
I appreciated his courtesy in coming to me and he agreed that the obvious implication of the meeting was to rally support for Trump.
While I don’t question the motives of those who are trekking to the Tower, I strongly dissent from the wisdom of their chosen path.
This meeting marks the end of the Christian Right.
The premise of the meeting in 1980 was that only candidates that reflected a biblical worldview and good character would gain our support.
Today, a candidate whose worldview is greed and whose god is his appetites (Philippians 3) is being tacitly endorsed by this throng.
They are saying we are Republicans no matter what the candidate believes and no matter how vile and unrepentant his character.
They are not a phalanx of God’s prophets confronting a wicked leader, this is a parade of elephants.
In 1980 I believed that Christians could dramatically influence politics. Today, we see politics fully influencing a thousand Christian leaders.
This is a day of mourning.
Read more at http://www.christianpost.com/news/trump-meeting-evangelical-leaders-end-of-the-christian-right-165473/#bBZGW2GyMfkQALcW.99