Even as the huge gathering in Manhattan was being prayed over by prominent televangelist Franklin Graham and moderated by former Gov. Mike Huckabee, other religious conservatives were using the gathering as a chance to speak out against Trump. One called Tuesday “a day of mourning.”
The morning event with as many as 1,000 social conservative leaders — mostly evangelical — started at 10:15 a.m. and ends at midday. There is not a vote or endorsement coming at the end, and participants say they are coming with open minds. But polls show that a majority of white evangelicals — and social conservatives in particular — are leaning toward Trump. The question is how greatly.
Donald Trump is meeting with a bunch of evangelicals today, including a bunch of the prosperity gospel con artists, which is more than fitting. This comes on the heels of Ralph Reed attacking Christians for standing on their convictions against Trump. Reed called it the sin of pride. Ralph Reed actually should keep his mouth shut about Christians who stand on their convictions. If Ralph spent more time sending Republicans to church instead of sending the church into the GOP, perhaps he would not have gotten in bed with Jack Abramoff where, among other things, he fought against improving the standards of Chinese women in the Northern Marianas Islands who “were subject to forced abortions” and “were subject to forced prostitution in the local sex-tourism industry.”
Access to power is a powerful drug, and there are quite a few Evangelical leaders nursing an addiction. It must be especially hard to kick the habit for those whose fortunes are on the decline. There’s a reason why Trump’s surrogates mainly represent a traveling band of the has-beens and “almost-weres”: He’s their last, best hope for relevance. But others will hold their nose and cling to him, genuinely convinced that all of his faults are outweighed — just barely — by his (kinda sorta) promise to appoint conservative Supreme Court justices. Trump’s so mendacious that one can measure his lies by the minute, but in this case they’ll believe he’s telling the truth. Because they want to believe.
This is a grave mistake. American Evangelical Christianity does not exist for the purpose of placing one or two decent judges on the Supreme Court. It — along with its Catholic and Orthodox counterparts — represents the body of Christ on this earth. It is a flawed vessel, to be sure, but its moral witness is still of incalculable worth.
I’ll update this post as reaction from those who were inside the closed-door meeting comes out. Here’s the first one I’ve seen:
Just got back from Trump’s “conversation” with Evangelicals. No mention of Jesus.
— toddstarnes (@toddstarnes) June 21, 2016
If you wondered why younger, theological, gospel-centered evangelicals reacted neg to the old guard Religious Right, well, now you know.
— Russell Moore (@drmoore) June 21, 2016
UPDATE.2: Matthew Lee Anderson (who wasn’t there):
There is a unity which we must seek, and a unity we cannot allow. The capitulation of the Religious Right is now complete. It is a tragically comic ending to a movement that has done far, far more harm than good.