In a conference call for Ohio pastors organized by Citizens for Community Values today, Family Research Council president Tony Perkins urged listeners to rally their congregations to support Donald Trump in the presidential election, warning that if Hillary Clinton becomes president, the nation will become a “very, very hostile environment” for Christians. But a Trump presidency, he said, would give the church space to save a country that’s “hanging by a thread over a raging fire.”
Perkins, who boasted that he “wrote a large portion” of the Republican Party’s platform at the GOP convention in Cleveland this year, said that Trump’s campaign was the only Republican presidential campaign in the past 12 years not to put up a fight as he attempted to insert his hardline anti-LGBT and anti-abortion-rights stances into the party platform.
“I have had to fight every Republican campaign, including George W. Bush’s campaign, John McCain’s, Mitt Romney’s, on the platform over life issues, marriage issues, human sexuality,” he said. “I’ve had to fight every campaign except Donald Trump’s campaign. They actually worked with us on the platform, in fact whipped, meaning gathered votes, on one of my amendments on the Johnson Amendment.”
Perkins also praised Trump for his false description of late-term abortion in the final presidential debate, saying that if Trump wins the election, it “may go down in history as one of the most important moments in presidential politics.”
“For the first time, we heard a presidential candidate vividly describe what partial-birth abortion, late-term abortion was, and he clearly articulated that he was going to appoint pro-life justices,” Perkins said. “No Republican, none, none, has ever said that before. He’s put out a list of solid conservatives and he even said he’d like to see Roe v. Wade overturned. Again, we’ve never had a Republican that has been that clear on the issues.”
Perkins criticized evangelicals who are presenting a “false dilemma” between praying for a revival and getting involved in the election, saying that those who are stepping away from the presidential election are almost like Pontius Pilate, who attempted to wash his hands of the crucifixion of Christ.
“The idea that we should be focused on the spiritual and not the political is anathema to true Christianity,” he said. “The reason we’re down to a choice that’s less than desirable [in the presidential election] is because, for far too long, Christians have backed out of the process. So because we now have a mess, to say, well I’m just going to wash my hands of it and walk away, is so irresponsible it’s almost like Pilate. We have a responsibility to pray, to discern and to lead.”
“Our nation is hanging by a thread over a raging fire,” he told the pastors. “And I’m not saying Donald Trump is the answer, but what I am saying, I am confident he will give you and I the space as Christians to exercise our freedoms in such a way to win the hearts and minds of men, women and children with the gospel of Jesus Christ so that we might transform this nation and turn it back to God again. That, I believe, is what is at stake in this election.”
When asked what the impact on the church would be if Clinton were to win, Perkins was not optimistic.
He responded that the answer was already apparent in Clinton’s tenure as secretary of state, where she “strong-armed foreign governments that were disproportionately Christian in their orientation” and told them to “promote the LGBT agenda or lose their financial aid from the United States of America.”
“And even the religious freedom issues that were vocalized and verbalized and expressed were told to take a back seat to the LGBT agenda,” he said.
He warned that if Clinton becomes president, the Family Research Council will soon lose its tax-exempt status.
“I believe organizations like ours,” he said, “not churches initially, as long as they stay within the four walls of their buildings, but organizations like ours, like the Family Policy Council there in Ohio, I believe that we will lose our tax exemption and I believe that churches that dare venture outside the four walls of their church will be aggressively challenged when it comes to their tax exemption.”
“I think that’s just the first wave of attacks,” he added, “but I think we’ll see the increased marginalization of Christians who speak in the public square, and I think it’s going to become a very, very hostile environment in the United States if she is successful in winning the White House.”