Evangelical and socially conservative leaders are planning a meeting with presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump to discuss their concerns and decide on future action.
Organizers of the meeting plan to bring together about 400 leaders to meet with the candidate, Time Magazine reports. The organizers include former presidential candidate Ben Carson and Family Research Council president Tony Perkins.
“The main thing here is to have a conversation,” Perkins said, adding that the goal of the meeting is to have “an honest conversation so that these leaders know what they need to do.”
Carson is the only meeting organizer who endorsed Trump in the Republican primary. He is organizing the meeting in his capacity as the chairman of MyFaithVotes, an organization founded by California lawyer Sealy Yates to mobilize Christian voters.
Many of the likely attendees did not support Trump in the Republican primaries.
Another meeting organizer is Bill Dallas, who heads the group United in Purpose, which aims to unify conservative organizations to bring about “a culture change in America based on Judeo-Christian principles.” Its partners include Americans United for Life, Concerned Women for America, Catholic Vote, and the Faith and Freedom Coalition.
On May 4 Catholic Vote said it would not yet endorse Trump. The group said he remains “problematic in too many ways” for them to endorse, given his record, his lack of “clear guiding principles,” and his “history of unpredictability.”
A related steering committee for the planned meeting, which the Trump campaign has not confirmed, includes Gary Bauer of American Values, Focus on the Family founder James Dobson, and Family Leader president Bob Vander Plaats.
Ronnie Floyd, president of the Southern Baptist Convention, said Perkins had invited him to the planned meeting. He told Time Magazine he wanted to understand the candidate’s positions on Supreme Court nominations, abortion, racial justice, and religious liberty. Unlike candidates Jeb Bush and Ted Cruz, neither Trump nor his campaign has reached out to him.
Tom McClusky, vice president of March for Life Action, told Time there is “a lot of concern” in the pro-life movement with Trump as the prospective Republican nominee. He said the March for Life theme for 2016 had emphasized that the pro-life cause is a pro-woman cause. Some Trump statements have been “misogynist,” he said.
Pro-life advocates have also questioned Trump’s April statements that he would change the Republican platform to allow abortion in cases of rape, incest, and threats to the life of the mother.
Ralph Reed, who heads the Faith & Freedom Coalition, has said he will support Trump in a personal capacity.
Latino Christian leaders are also weighing their decision.
Both Trump and Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton sent a video message to the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference’s Latin Leader Fest held last weekend in Anaheim, Calif.
Samuel Rodriguez, an Evangelical pastor who heads the Evangelical Christian leadership conference, opposes the Democratic Party’s position on abortion and same-sex marriage. He has led a prayer at the 2012 Republican national convention and praised several Republican presidential candidates.
He told the Washington Post, however, that Trump’s calls for mass deportations “have offended me and my community.”
“Those are our parishioners,” he said.
Eddie Rodriguez, a pastor who leads an Assemblies of God congregation in South Florida, backed Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Florida) in the Republican primary. He said he thinks Trump has damaged race relations; he also cited Trump’s past support for abortion, his tone towards women, and his statement that he has never asked God for forgiveness.
“In good consciousness, I just can't vote for him,” said the pastor, who has said he will vote for Clinton.
Trump campaign supporters are organizing a more official faith advisory committee. Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee is a possible national chairman for this group. Trump supporter and televangelist Paula White, senior pastor of the New Destiny Christian Center in Florida, has been organizing the group with Tim Clinton of the American Association of Christian counselors, Time reports.