I was privileged to be one of about a thousand evangelicals who met privately at the New York Marriott Marquis Hotel for “A Conversation With Donald Trump” last week. Since this important meeting was closed to the media and has therefore had little coverage, I want to take this opportunity to share with you what happened.
The event was organized by United in Purpose and MyFaithVotes, two Christian non-partisan organizations whose mission concerns include changing the culture through Judeo-Christian principles and voter turnout especially in the evangelical community. Much of the credit for making this happen belongs to former presidential candidate Dr. Ben Carson, who has become a close advisor to Trump.
It was a full day of hearing from well-known Christian leaders such as Carson, Rev. Franklin Graham, Tony Perkins, Ralph Reed, Dr. George Barna, and others who gave informative speeches on the importance of voter turn-out and the high stakes of America continuing on its present track. But the main event was Trump.
Governor Mike Huckabee interviewed Trump for several minutes and then questions were asked by leading figures in the Christian community including Dr. James Dobson of Focus on the Family, Dr. Ronnie Floyd of the Southern Baptist Convention, Dr. David Jeremiah, Kelly Shackleford of Liberty Institute, Pastor Sammy Rodriquez, Marjorie Dannenfelser of the Susan B. Anthony List, Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) and others. The range of subjects was wide and included religious liberty, immigration reform, urban decay, racial tensions, abortion, ObamaCare, the economy, terrorism, and the military.
A Different Trump
The first thing we all noticed was a different man than the one we have seen on television. There was none of the arrogant, bombastic Trump so commonly heard before. There was none of the foul language or demeaning descriptions of others that so characterized the primary campaign. There was only a cool customer who sincerely responded to the questions with substantive answers. He gave generously of his time, first with a small group of leaders in private, and then with the large group for well over an hour.
Many in the crowd, including myself, came with deep concerns about Trump. I am sure that no one was totally satisfied with all his answers but there was a definite enthusiasm for most of what he said. The mood in the room was definitely upbeat in response to the conversation. Bear in mind that the alternative is Hillary Clinton.
Reasonable people may disagree on the solutions to many of the problems that our country faces. But for those who call themselves evangelicals and try to comport their lives according to Biblical teachings, there are four non-negotiables:
- The Sanctity of Life
- The Sanctity of Marriage
- Freedom of Religion
- Support of Israel
The Sanctity of Life
God is the creator of all life and therefore clearly teaches in His Word that all life is sacred, including the unborn (Psalm 139). Hillary Clinton has strongly backed abortion and Planned Parenthood, the largest provider of abortions in the country. In fact she has received an endorsement from Planned Parenthood, the first time they have ever endorsed a candidate.
Trump has taken a pro-choice position in the past but is now clearly pro-life. He has promised to appoint Supreme Court justices who are pro-life and he supports defunding of Planned Parenthood.
The Sanctity of Marriage
God created marriage as the union of a man and a woman (Matthew 10) and His Word clearly teaches He opposes homosexuality (Romans 1). While we are all called to repentance of our sins and to love one another, the Christian community cannot condone gay marriage.
Hillary Clinton favors gay marriage and supports the LGBT community and the expansion of their civil rights. Trump supports traditional marriage between a man and a woman. While he has had his own share of marital dysfunction and is now married to his third wife, his present marriage appears to be stable and he is close to his children (three work with him). Governor Huckabee testified to the genuine closeness of his family he has observed in private moments.
This country was founded by those seeking religious freedom who were persecuted in their native lands. It is the bedrock of our country but it has been threatened by recent Supreme Court decisions concerning gay marriage, ObamaCare contraception mandates, and by the Obama administration.
The latest liberal attack on our freedom of religion is to call it freedom of worship. By this rhetorical slight of hand, they seek to diminish our freedom to only what we can do in our private lives. This allows them to limit our freedom in the public sector such as forcing Christians to bake wedding cakes, provide flowers or take photographs for gay marriages.
Hillary Clinton has already been heard using this new phrase freedom of worship and has condemned lawsuits that challenge the Contraception Mandate of ObamaCare. Trump supports maintaining our freedom of religion and now calls for the full repeal and replacement of ObamaCare as part of his platform.
Support of Israel
Lastly, it is imperative that we support Israel. God has declared He will bless those nations that bless Israel and curse those nations that curse Israel (Genesis 12) (Psalms 122, 128). America’s prosperity for many years can be directly attributed to God’s favor. But if our nation turns its back on Israel we can no longer expect God’s blessing.
President Obama has been the most hostile American president to Israel in our history. Hillary Clinton, as Secretary of State, has been an integral part of that hostility and can be expected to continue the same treatment of Israel. She has openly defended the disastrous Iran deal that threatens the future existence of Israel.
Trump strongly criticized the Iran deal and promised his support of Israel at the AIPAC (The American Israel Public Affairs Committee) conference in March. He repeated his strong support of Israel at our private meeting.
Donald Trump is: Hillary Clinton is:
- Pro-Life Pro-Choice (abortion)
- Pro-Marriage Pro-Gay Marriage
- Pro-Religious Freedom Anti-Religious Freedom
- Pro-Israel Anti-Israel
We all know that Donald Trump is an imperfect vessel to carry the torch for our country. But Rev. Franklin Graham reminded us that many of the heroes of the Bible were imperfect people including Abraham, Moses, and David. We are all imperfect people, “sinners saved by grace alone.” For those who believe the Bible should govern their lives and the choices they make, the choice between Clinton and Trump should be clear.