CHICAGO (Christian Examiner) – The pastor of one of the largest churches in the United States has put the Donald Trump campaign on notice – no more support unless the candidate, whose vulgar "locker room talk" was exposed recently, repents and shows a significant "change of heart."
In an email described and partially reprinted by Ed Stetzer at Christianity Today, James McDonald, pastor of the Harvest Bible Chapel in Chicago and a member of Trump's Evangelical Executive Advisory Board, wrote that Trump's comments "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," McDonald wrote to the Trump campaign.
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? 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.
McDonald, who declared in 2015 his church would become Southern Baptist, was himself at the center of a debate over moral behavior related to casino gambling in 2012. It is a practice which he told World Magazine he has since ceased.
Stetzer describes McDonald and other members of the advisory council as "concerned" that Trump's erratic and off-the-cuff remarks continue to make waves. They are no longer considered "simply foolish or loose lipped," Stetzer wrote.
Worse, McDonald suggests Trump's advisory council on faith may not be achieving its intended purpose, but instead devolving into tacit approval of his actions.
"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? 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," McDonald wrote.
Not all of the members of the advisory council, however, feel the same way. Ralph Reed, chair of the Faith & Freedom Coalition and who also leads the advisory council for Trump, encouraged Christians to stay the course with the candidate because – as lewd as the comments were – Trump is not Clinton and not a danger to the country.
"I've listened to the tape. My view is that people of faith are voting for president on issues like who will defend and protect unborn life, defund Planned Parenthood, grow the economy and create jobs, oppose the Iran nuclear deal. I think a 10-year-old tape of a private conversation with a TV talk show host ranks pretty low on their hierarchy of their concerns," Reed said in an interview.
Reed also appeared at Liberty University's convocation service Oct. 10. During his address, he encouraged students to view the election through the prism of the Apostle Paul, who said Christians had been given their "earthly citizenship to share our faith, to advance the good, to resist evil, and to build and establish the Kingdom of God."
Reed then encouraged the students not to use their votes for a third party candidate who has no real path to the White House.
"We cannot, and we must not, surrender our precious right as voters and citizens," Reed said. "[It is] a right that has been purchased with the blood of patriots, who gave their lives and their limbs and all they had to give us that right ... for me it is too precious a thing to waste on Nov. 8."
Reed said he wanted the candidates to focus on the issues and stop running negative campaigns, but he added that the stakes were high and only the conservative course of action leads to victory.
Stetzer, who was asked to be on Trump's advisory board but declined, occupies the Billy Graham Chair of Church, Mission, and Evangelism at Wheaton College and it executive director of the Billy Graham Center for Evangelism.