Presidential candidate Donald Trump has donated $100,000 for flood relief to a Louisiana Baptist church where Family Research Council President Tony Perkins is serving as interim pastor.
The Republican nominee and his running mate, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, stopped at Greenwell Springs Baptist Church during an Aug. 19 visit to Baton Rouge, La., to survey damage and meet with victims and relief workers a week after a storm flooded much of central Louisiana. Also in attendance was Franklin Graham, president of the Christian international relief agency Samaritan’s Purse.
Perkins, who in 2015 famously agreed with a guest on his radio show that Hurricane Joaquin might be a sign of God’s wrath over the country’s legalization of same-sex marriage, was forced with his family to flee his own flooded house by canoe last week. The Family Research Council is a conservative Christian lobbying organization formed in 1981 by James Dobson.
“We’re not asking for the government to help,” Perkins told Trump in a video of a private meeting inside the church posted on the New Civil Rights Movement website. “They even get in the way. We do hope that there’s a change in the housing on Pennsylvania Avenue, but here we want to rebuild and we just want the government out the way and we want America to know that we need to help one another.”
Perkins reported on the church’s Facebook page Aug. 21, “As a result of his visit to our church and seeing the work that we are doing to help the community, Donald Trump is sending a financial contribution to the church to aid our efforts.”
CNN quoted someone from the Trump campaign as saying the amount of the donation was $100,000.
The Baptist Message, news journal of the Louisiana Baptist Convention, reported on Trump’s visit in a story headlined, “Finally, Louisiana’s plight getting some national attention.”
“Yesterday’s visit by Donald Trump, Mike Pence, and Franklin Graham has generated a lot of interest across the country from people who want to help our church and community,” the Baptist Message story quoted Perkins from Facebook. “Today 90 volunteers from Samaritan’s Purse were sent to clean out houses in the area.”
Perkins, who said last month at the Republican National Convention that he will be voting for Trump in the fall election, told the candidate that volunteer efforts like the one at Greenwell Springs Baptist Church give people hope at a time when they have lost their homes and most of their worldly possessions.
“Mr. Trump, the big issue here, and why I’m so grateful you came and stopped at a church, is that this is a part of religious freedom — about having institutions that are right there in the community that are the first to respond,” Perkins said in the video clip.
“People didn’t turn to Washington. … They turned to their local church,” Perkins continued.
Perkins has been filling in at the church since the former pastor, Jeff Meyers, left to become pastor of First Baptist Church of Opelika, Ala., in May.
Perkins, a former member of the Louisiana House of Representatives who ran unsuccessfully for U.S. Senate in 2002, served previously as interim pastor at Greenwood Springs Baptist Church in 2013.