Should Christians Keep Advising a President They Disagree With?

Image: Evan Vucci / AP

With each controversial decision or remark President Donald Trump makes, his evangelical advisers come up against mounting pressure to resign and cut their ties.

“This is why @rev_rodriguez and I have refused to leave the faith advisory council,” Tony Suarez, vice president of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference (NHCLC) tweeted Tuesday, following the White House decision to phase out the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program over the next six months.

While Trump pledged to end DACA during his campaign, Suarez and NHCLC president Samuel Rodriguez have spent months lobbying to protect it for the sake of family unity, meeting with the President to defend their case as recently as last week. In their eyes, access to the chief executive—and the opportunity to influence him on political matters important to the church—is worth it, even if the decision doesn’t turn out their way.

For the two dozen or so evangelical leaders who signed on to advise Trump in the campaign and have gone on to enjoy an open invitation to visit him at the White House, what should they do when their convictions as Christians counter what the President says? (This scenario came up as many believers challenged Trump’s “two sides” approach to Charlottesville last month.)

Here’s what several advisers themselves have said about why they remain involved—some evoking the Old Testament prophets speaking before kings as well as Jesus himself dining with tax collectors—and what fellow Christian leaders think about the line between when to offer counsel and when to step away.

Should Christians keep advising a President they disagree with? Responses arranged from “yes” to “no.”

Johnnie Moore, a Trump adviser whose consulting company represents several other evangelical leaders involved, in a piece for the Religion News Service:

I never considered abandoning the administration for a single second. … I wouldn’t back down for the same reason I wouldn’t have left President Obama or Secretary Clinton had they asked me to be an adviser, even though I largely disagreed with their policies. You only make a difference if you have a seat at the table.

We’ve provided consequential feedback on policy and personnel decisions particularly affecting religious liberty, judges, the right to life and foreign policy. We are also actively at work on issues like criminal justice reform, and when we’ve disagreed, we’ve had every opportunity to express our point of view. Yet, we are not responsible for whether we are able to make a difference, but whether we tried.

Richard Land, Southern Evangelical Seminary president and Trump adviser, in a statement on his website:

I am continuing to serve on President Trump’s advisory council, continuing to offer counsel and continuing to pray for the president, as I am commanded to do by Scripture. To retreat during the challenges of a national leader is not the Christian way, nor what Jesus called us to do; Jesus did not turn away from those who may have seemed brash with their words or behavior. He did not cease praying for and ministering to those who were struggling. Jesus attempted to walk alongside those who needed him at all times, and as Christians, we must do the same, especially when they reach out for our counsel and ask for our advice.

Our task as members of President Trump’s advisory group is to give advice and counsel. Whether or not the president and his administration take it is up to them.

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SOURCE: Christianity Today
Kate Shellnutt