A Christian conservative organization wrote to 100,000 pastors Tuesday urging them to support presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump for president, the latest exchange in a series of salvos among faith leaders divided over Trump's candidacy.
David Lane, the leader of the American Renewal organization, wrote an email to pastors arguing that Trump is the obvious choice given the alternative.
"The choice facing America is not the lesser of two evils, but who will inflict the least damage to freedom and liberty," Lane said in the message:
Between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, this is an easy choice. What and how will Mr. Trump do? I don't have a clue. But with Hillary we do know, the progressives that she will stack on the Supreme Court alone will set-back America for a century. ... Codifying transgender bathrooms rights will only be the beginning of nine unelected and unaccountable justices imposing a godless agenda, tearing America apart brick-by-brick.
Lane sends such messages occasionally on behalf of American Renewal, which encourages Christian conservatives nationwide to become politically active. His firm support of Trump, however, contrasts with the positions of some other Christian leaders and activists in recent weeks.
A coalition of nearly 60 Christian leaders from across the political spectrum published an open letter last week asking voters of faith to reject Trump and his “vulgar racial and religious demagoguery,” warning that the nation faces a “moral threat” from the candidate. And last week in Nebraska, which holds its presidential primary Tuesday, one conservative preacher lamented that Trump has emerged as the final choice among what was once a long list of GOP candidates.
“In a sense, we feel abandoned by our party," said Pastor Gary Fuller of Gentle Shepherd Baptist Church in Lincoln. “There’s nobody left.”
Lane's letter takes a decidedly pro-Trump position. "I'm going to choose to believe that Donald Trump can be one of the top four presidents in American history," he wrote. "But the proof is in the eating of the pudding, and Mr. Trump is going to have to return to the Ronald Reagan model: running and governing on 'principle' and 'moral absolutes.' "
Lane's appeal to the pastors, part of an occasional communication from the American Renewal headquarters, cited Trump's backing of gun rights, the needs of U.S. workers and his willingness to "confront totalitarian political correctness."
A few other Christian conservative activists, such as Tony Perkins of the Washington-based Family Research Council, had expressed strong reservations about Trump in the past but in recent days hinted at the possibility of supporting the likely GOP nominee. "I am open to Donald Trump if he is open to working to gain the support of the evangelical community," Perkins said this week, according to the Christian Post.
In an interview, Lane said that in addition to backing Trump, he has begun touting the addition of former House speaker Newt Gingrich (R) to the ticket. He says he is getting a positive response.
"I think it would be tremendous, and others do too," he said. "It would be tremendous because Newt is respected and mature and has experience." More important, Lane said, Gingrich would "mobilize evangelical and Catholic pro-life conservatives who stayed home in the last election cycle."