(RNS) Donald Trump may have met with hundreds of conservative Christian leaders, mostly evangelicals, in New York on Tuesday (June 21), but not all Christians have lined up behind him.
Johnnie Moore — national spokesperson for My Faith Votes, one of the groups that organized the meeting — said beforehand he had seen “a real consolidation of evangelical support” for the GOP presumptive presidential candidate.
But here are seven Christian leaders who have made less-than-enthusiastic statements about the businessman-turned-reality TV star-turned candidate.
1. Russell Moore
Perhaps no evangelical leader has been more outspoken in opposition to Trump than Russell Moore, president of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission. In a single weekend last month, Moore penned an op-ed in The New York Times and made an appearance on “Face the Nation,” in which he called Trump’s campaign “reality television moral sewage.”
Trump’s retort on Twitter called Moore “a terrible representative of Evangelicals and all of the good they stand for. A nasty guy with no heart!”
Moore has since changed the bio on his Twitter profile to reflect the jab: “terrible representative of evangelical Christianity, due to nastiness.”
2. Denny Burk
A professor of biblical studies at Boyce College, Denny Burk blogged in March that though Trump has said he would appoint conservative Supreme Court justices, it was unclear what kind of justices he actually would choose; he does not seem to understand the pro-life position; and his statements supporting torture present a “real threat to our constitutional order.”
“I am not joking or being hyperbolic when I say that he is a Mussolini-in-waiting,” Burk wrote. “He must never be allowed near the Oval Office. Ever.”
3. Max Lucado
In a February blog post titled “Decency for President” that he later expanded for The Washington Post, Oak Hills Church pastor and popular Christian author Max Lucado said Trump wouldn’t pass the “decency interview” he required for his three daughters’ dates.
“I’m a pastor. I don’t endorse candidates or place bumper stickers on my car. But I am protective of the Christian faith. If a public personality calls on Christ one day and calls someone a “bimbo” the next, is something not awry? And to do so, not once, but repeatedly? Unrepentantly? Unapologetically? Can we not expect a tone that would set a good example for our children? We stand against bullying in schools. Shouldn’t we do the same in presidential politics?”
4. Thabiti Anyabwile
The pastor of Anacostia River Church and council member of The Gospel Coalition has called Trump a racist and many of the positions both Trump and Clinton have taken “evil.”
In a blog post earlier this month titled “Can We Talk? Or, Why I Think A Trump Presidency Is Intolerable Even Though You Might Not Agree,” Thabiti Anyabwile wrote: “It seems to me, it’s past time Christians with minds bound by the word of God forsake party politics for party politics sake.
“If this election proves anything, it proves there remains among Christian people a lot of uncritical allegiance to the parties of men and even some idolizing of them,” Anyabwile wrote.
And this was after he published a guest post by Nick Rodriguez, a leader at his church, that asked Christian leaders to vote for Clinton.
5. Erick Erickson
The conservative blogger behind The Resurgent told Katie Couric last month, “If the Republican Party wants to go in (Trump’s) direction, I guess I’m not a Republican anymore.”
Erick Erickson previously had said he would support Trump if he became the party’s nominee. Then in February he wrote on his website, The Resurgent, “I Will Not Vote For Donald Trump. Ever.“
“Donald Trump has had no ‘road to Damascus’ conversion. He only wants to date the preacher’s daughter,” Erickson wrote.
6. Robbie George
Warren Throckmorton posted a statement Monday (June 20) on his Patheos blog from Robbie George, McCormick Professor of Jurisprudence at Princeton University, who declined to attend Tuesday’s meeting. George is Catholic.
George’s statement read in part:
“I have been a severe critic of Mr. Trump and there is nothing he could say at a meeting in which he is courting conservatives that would alter my low opinion of him. I trust that I do not need to go into detail about the words and actions that have caused me to form that opinion. Perhaps the only politician in America of whom I have an even lower opinion is Hillary Clinton, so I certainly understand why some are urging us to hold our noses and support for Mr. Trump. But I fear that he will, in the end, bring disgrace upon those individuals and organizations who publicly embrace him.”
Earlier this month, he tweeted, “Good people, reject (Clinton) but don’t associate yourself with Trump. He will disgrace & taint all who snuggle up to him.”
7. Alan Noble
“For conservative evangelicals like me, the 2016 election really is a choice between two evils,” said Alan Noble, editor of the website Christ and Pop Culture, in an article in Vox earlier this month.
In his post, in which he advised evangelicals to abstain from voting for president and focus instead on congressional and local and state elections, Noble wrote that voting for Trump would undermine “decades of the religious right’s insistence that character matters in politicians.”
He called the candidate “a deceptive, infantile, racist demagogue with no political principles aside from his own self-interest.”
He also pointed out Trump’s comments that he does not ask for forgiveness, saying, “Any man who is so unaware of his own depravity that he cannot recognize his need for forgiveness is incapable of justly leading any country.
“There simply is no way around this fact for evangelicals.”