President Donald Trump spoke to hundreds of pastors last Friday on a call organized by the Family Research Council about the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, and he used most of his time to remind pastors how much he has done for them. He called Nov. 3, this year’s Election Day, “one of the biggest dates in the history of religion.” FRC President Tony Perkins touted Trump’s remarks in his “Washington Update” email Monday.
Trump was reportedly a last-minute addition to the call, which was scheduled to include Vice President Mike Pence and HUD Secretary Ben Carson. But Pence said that when Trump heard about the planned call, Trump said he needed to make time to join the call. Trump thanked the ministers for the work that churches are doing to address the crisis, calling them inspirational. He urged them to pray for the health and strength of the country—and for voters to “make the right choice on Nov. 3.”
Here are excerpts of Trump’s portion of the call:
I want to thank you all for praying for our country and for those who are sick. You do such an incredible job. You’re very inspirational people. And I’m with you all the way. You know that. You see what we’ve done for right to life and all of the things that we’ve been working so hard together. I’ve been working with many of the people on the call. Many, many of the people. We’ve had tremendous support. But we are going to get over this.
We have a very, very big election coming up, especially if you’re evangelical—if you’re evangelical, if you’re Christian, if you’re, frankly, almost any faith. And I guess probably you could go any faith, Tony, if you think about it. But we have a very important election coming up. We have people on the other side that are against a lot of the things we all stand for. And you know one of the things I’m most proud of is knocking out the Johnson Amendment, where the people that we most respect, namely the people on this line, you weren’t able to speak your will, speak what you thought, speak about where you stand politically, what’s good for the church, what’s good for all of the things that we represent. And we knocked out the Johnson Amendment. They would have held you very horribly responsible if they wanted to, and they did in some cases. What they did to the people that we want to hear from, and people that your people want to hear from, so importantly. So, we’re able to do that and many other things. And so, it’s just going to be, it’s a big date, Nov. 3—that’s going to be one of the biggest dates in the history of religion, as far as I’m concerned. So, I want you to be, we have to keep aware of that, ‘cause as we fight this, people are forgetting about anything else. You turn on the news, and all you see is the coronavirus or whatever—some people call it the Chinese virus, they call it a lot of different things—but the virus, that’s all you see. You don’t see anything else.
So people are forgetting we have the most important election that we’ve had, and I guess when I say the 2016 election, perhaps that’ll always be very special for all of us, but without this one, without a victory here, so much of that can disappear.
Trump added that it was an honor to be on the call:
It’s my honor, and I am with you all the way. We have a lot of things to save, a lot of things to keep that we—we’ve had a lot of victories in the last three and a half years, more victories than anybody would have believed possible. And the other side is not happy about it, so we have to fight very hard.
Perkins asked Trump how he would like pastors to be praying for him. Trump responded:
Well, I think the health of our country, the strength of our country. We were doing something amazing and then one day, it just ended. So that would be it, and the fact that we make the right choice on Nov. 3 is very important. Tony, you understand that better than most.
In his prayer for Trump, Perkins noted that the Bible tells believers to pray for those in authority, something he said he can do with “great eagerness and joy, given the leadership that you’ve given us and the focus that they’ve had on the issues that I believe are most essential to the health and welfare of a nation, the spiritual foundations of a nation.” He thanked God for Trump and prayed that God would give Trump wisdom, stamina, and peace.
“We do pray for the American people,” Perkins continued. “We pray for their health and well-being. We pray for the economy. But Lord, we pray most of all as a nation we would turn back to you. And we pray for our leadership, Lord, that they would lead us in that direction.”