Evangelical Leaders Slow To Warm Up To Trump

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump reportedly held a closed-door meeting with hundreds of evangelical leaders in New York City on June 21.

Trump is said to have won a standing ovation when he promised to appoint anti-abortion judges to the Supreme Court and said he would end the decades-long ban on politicking by tax-exempt groups, which includes churches, according to The Washington Post.

But many prominent figures left the meeting without coming out as solid supporters of the billionaire candidate, Politico reports.

Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council was one of the leaders present at the meeting who remained unready to fully endorse Trump and give him access to FRC's extensive networks of grassroots activists.

Perkins, who originally backed Texas Sen. Ted Cruz for president, said he hopes to eventually be able to support Trump's candidacy.

"Because of the alternative, I would like to be at a point where I find that I can support him," Perkins said. "If I can support him, I think many other evangelical social conservatives can as well. But it’s going to be difficult because clearly there’s a division right now in the evangelical ranks."

Evangelicals, who make up about one-fifth of the voting American population, are generally favorable to Trump but are also divided among themselves. Some Christian conservative leaders used the conference to denounce Trump's past comments about women, Muslims, immigrants and others.

"This meeting marks the end of the Christian Right," said national homeschooling pioneer and longtime Christian right figure Michael Farris on Facebook. "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 ... This is a day of mourning."

Conservative Catholic Robert George declined to attend the meeting. He outlined his fear that Trump will "in the end, bring disgrace upon those individuals and organizations who publicly embrace him."

He added, "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."

Sources: Politico, The Washington Post / Photo credit: Gage Skidmore/Flickr

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