Richard Land, the controversial former head of the Southern Baptist Convention’s public policy arm, joined the Family Research Council’s “Washington Watch” program last night, where he marveled that the Religious Right has gained “unprecedented access” to the White House during the Trump administration, including having an “impact on policy.”
Land has previously boasted of his access to the Trump administration, including claiming in January that he had been asked for “personnel recommendations.” Land was among the Religious Right leaders who met with and prayed over Trump in the Oval Office last month.
Ronnie Floyd, the former SBC president who was guest-hosting the program, asked Land to comment on “some of the good things that evangelicals need to be celebrating” about Trump’s presidency since “America’s not been able to see a lot of things that the president has been able to do because of so many things that have overshadowed the bigger issues and the bigger accomplishments.”
Land told him that Trump has been “a very pleasant surprise to me.”
“He gave us Justice Gorsuch, who’s going to be the gift that keeps on giving,” Land said. “He’s got 21 people nominated to the federal bench at the appellate level and the district level, and they’re all strong as goat’s breath and they will help to pull the judiciary back from the very progressivist and liberal appointees that Obama gave us.”
He added that Trump “has been undoing regulations a mile a minute,” but a major thing that he has given the Religious Right is “unprecedented access.”
Land said that at the recent White House work day for evangelical leaders, which he noted that Floyd was at as well, he, Tony Perkins, Gary Bauer and Ralph Reed “all testified to the fact that we’ve never had the kind of open access to the administration that we’ve had in this administration.”
“And it is sort of nice when you walk around the halls of the Eisenhower Executive Office Building to keep running into people you know who are evangelicals,” he said. “Personnel is policy. And there are more evangelicals in this administration as personnel than any administration in my lifetime, probably since Calvin Coolidge. And, you know, it’s a lot easier to explain evangelical concerns to evangelicals.”
He added: “Not only do we have access, but we have had impact on decisions. We have had impact on policy. And it’s a whole different atmosphere, there really is, there’s a different atmosphere in the White House and the administration.”
Land said that Trump is “absolutely fascinated by evangelicals” and “finds us to be in sync with him on a lot of things.”
“People need to realize,” he said, “this guy’s from Queens, he’s not from Manhattan, and when he was working for his dad, he formed an emotional bond with those blue-collar construction workers that he was supervising. And he really cares about ordinary folk and the plight that we’re in and the fact that our government has not been serving us.”
Later in the interview, Floyd asked Land about Trump’s recent Twitter announcement that he would reinstate a ban on transgender people serving openly in the military, which Land responded to by repeating his assertion that “transgenderism, like homosexuality and lesbianism, are the ultimate rebellion against God.”
“Theologically, I reject the idea that this is in any way normal or to be affirmed,” Land said, adding that he would let transgender troops currently serving stay in the military but refuse to pay for sex reassignment surgeries.