James MacDonald, megachurch pastor of Harvest Bible Chapel, a nondenominational evangelical church in Rolling Meadows, Ill., sent an email on Saturday to several members of Trump’s faith council, his campaign liaison and to some who oppose Trump’s candidacy.
“Mr. Trump’s comments released yesterday — though 10 years ago (he was 60) — are not just sophomoric or locker room banter. They are truly the kind of misogynistic trash that reveals a man to be lecherous and worthless — not the guy who gets politely ignored, but the guy who gets a punch in the head from worthy men who hear him talk that way about women.”
The email was published on a blog by Ed Stetzer, an evangelism professor at Wheaton College. (Stetzer does not serve on the council.)
On Sunday night, MacDonald said he is “hanging by a thread” and that he considers the Trump campaign “on notice” that he will not tolerate something similar–or worse.
“If it exceeded the previous in any category, I think that would be the end,” he said.
MacDonald said he does not endorse candidates and would serve on either a Democratic or Republican member’s advisory council. MacDonald said that Trump’s campaign manager Kellyanne Conway was on Monday morning’s phone call with council members, who also spoke as a group on Saturday.
Members of the council, MacDonald said, felt Trump performed well during Sunday night’s debate. “But I think there’s a strong feeling that the level of the discourse, which is focusing on such a lowest common denominator of human behavior on both sides of the election is unfortunate,” he said.
Members of the council advise Trump’s campaign on issues that matter to people of faith, how those issues are articulated, including positions on the Supreme Court nominees, national defense and the economy.
MacDonald wrote that he has a wife of 33 years, a daughter and two daughters-in-law. “I am not able to offer my time any further without an obvious ‘change of heart and direction’ true believers call repentance,” he wrote.
“If Mr. Trump isn’t seeking our counsel now — 1) to be repentant 2) on how to portray that repentance, then the idea of a faith council (which has deteriorated into influence brokering anyway) is really kind of a joke right?” MacDonald wrote. “I have spent my life helping men get free from such disgusting commentary on women — even writing my doctoral dissertation on self-disclosure of sin among men. I cannot and will not offer help to a man who believes this kind of talk a minor error.”
“No more defending Mr. Trump as simply foolish or loose lipped,” MacDonald wrote.
He told Stetzer to forward the email. “I can assure you, having seen more of the conversation, James’ words are being discussed,” Stetzer wrote on his blog.
Trump’s candidacy has already torn apart some evangelicals. His comments are reportedly causing division within his own campaign’s evangelical council. His council, made up of a mix of pastors and other kinds of influential leaders, has already been divisive for many evangelicals who often question who gets to speak for them.
Some politically connected evangelical leaders continued to back Trump after the video leak, including Pat Robertson, James Dobson and Jerry Falwell Jr. But a prominent theologian, Wayne Grudem, pulled back his support Sunday, and other leaders, such as Russell Moore and Albert Mohler, continued to condemn the nominee. On Monday, evangelical magazine Christianity Today published an editorial denouncing Trump’s comments.
“Enthusiasm for a candidate like Trump gives our neighbors ample reason to doubt that we believe Jesus is Lord,” wrote Andy Crouch, Christianity Today’s executive editor. “They see that some of us are so self-interested, and so self-protective, that we will ally ourselves with someone who violates all that is sacred to us — in hope, almost certainly a vain hope given his mendacity and record of betrayal, that his rule will save us.”