Faith

As Controversy Swirls, Trump Hosts This Group at White House Dinner — Good Idea?

Nearly 100 evangelical leaders were expected to attend this important event on Monday night

Image Credit: Alex Wong / Getty Images

As anger swelled around the country from both the Left and even some elements of the Right over the way President Donald Trump has handled his acknowledgment of the passing of Arizona Sen. John McCain, the president hosted a special group at the White House on Monday night — evangelicals.

The dinner was closed to the press, but nearly 100 evangelical leaders were expected to attend, as many outlets reported.

David Brody of Christian Broadcasting Network (CBN) revealed that Faith and Freedom Coalition founder Ralph Reed and pastor of First Baptist Dallas church Robert Jeffress were expected to be among the guests.

In April, a Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI) poll showed that 75 percent of white evangelicals had a favorable view of the president. The dinner is widely viewed as a strategic move ahead of the 2018 fall midterms along with a “thank you” to evangelical leadership.

Many senior administration advisers were reportedly in attendance at the dinner, along with more than a third of Trump Cabinet members, as CBN (Christian Broadcasting Network) reported.

Members of the White House’s faith advisory group were also expected to attend, including Pastor Robert Jeffress, who appeared on CBN’s “Faith Nation” program to talk about the event.

“This was actually the president and first lady’s idea to have a dinner to celebrate evangelical leadership,” Jeffress explained on the show. “The White House is very aware that evangelicals have been some of the staunchest supporters of the president. He won by the largest evangelical vote in history. He still has a 77 percent approval rating, and I think they’re genuinely appreciative of that.”

Jeffress also released an early statement to David Brody of CBN, saying, “Looking forward to celebrating with President Trump and the first lady his unprecedented accomplishments in less than two years.”

“President Trump is the most pro-life, pro-religious liberty, and pro-conservative judiciary president in history, which is why evangelicals continue to support him enthusiastically,” Jeffress continued.

Jeffress mentioned the upcoming midterm elections and the Trump administration’s focus on getting evangelicals to the polls.

Related: How Evangelicals Are Working with the White House on Prison Reform

“They’re facing the possibility of a Democrat Congress that, if they take control of the legislature, are going to either impeach this President from office or at least paralyze him while he’s in office,” he noted.

“I’m sure tonight will be a great motivation for evangelical leaders and their constituents to turn out en masse for the midterms,” he said of Monday’s dinner.

Check out this Boston Herald columnist’s explanation of why evangelicals support the president in the video below.

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