WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump’s Faith Advisory Council is speaking out against an invite-only meeting that involved faith leaders discussing the future of evangelism in light of Trump’s presidency.
Those at the meeting held at Wheaton College indicated they wanted to make sure political allegiances to Trump don’t get in the way of the gospel message but it didn’t sit well with some evangelicals who support Trump’s policy initiatives.
Johnnie Moore, an unofficial spokesman for the Faith Advisory Council, was among the many pro-Trump evangelicals not invited.
“We don’t take it personally; we just pray for them,” Moore said in a statement to CBN News. “I’ve said it many, many times, but I’ll say it again: we have been honored to fight to protect religious liberty that even extends to protecting the rights of those who disagree with us on religious grounds, even when they are unkind.”
Robert Jeffress is another advisor not included.
“It’s a meeting that will have very little impact on evangelicalism as a whole,” Jeffress told CBN News. “Many of them are sincere but they are having a hard time understanding that they have little impact on evangelicalism.”
Richard Land also questioned the weight of the meeting given the absence of some well-known names.
“Any definition of ‘thought leaders’ and any definition of evangelicalism that excludes the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association and Franklin Graham is a pale imitation – anemic and incomplete,” said Land.
Other members of Trump’s Faith Advisory Council spoke to CBN News off the record, one voicing his concern over what he sees as this group of evangelicals trying to steal the microphone from those who support Trump. He pointed to the fact that many invited to participate are part of the anti-Trump movement and hold more progressive views on public policy than traditional evangelical Christian voters who supported Trump in 2016.
In total the meeting included about 50 faith leaders and scholars and was spearheaded by Doug Birdsall, Gabriel Salguero and Jenny Yang.
Others there included Timothy Keller, A.R. Bernard, Mark Labberton and Ed Stetzer.
Saluegero told CBN News he didn’t know if members of Trump’s Faith Advisory Council were invited or not but that he welcomes conversations with them in the future.
“These are our friends,” said Salguero. “It’s not us against them.”