‘Israel has never had a better friend, and yet I got 25% of the vote.”
The former president joined an online meeting of supporters from the faith community Sept. 2 to launch his National Faith Advisory Board, but two weeks later, there’s still no public list of who’s serving on this advisory board and hardly any buzz on social media from pastors identifying with the movement.
The group’s website lists only three names: Paula White-Cain, president and founder of the group; Jennifer Korn, senior advisor to the group; and Amanda Robbins Vargo, engagement director.
Those visiting the website — and the brand-new Twitter and Facebook pages — are invited to join the movement, but whether anyone is joining and if so, who they are, has not been made known. White declared in the launch video that “70 executives” are on board with the group already.
The two most prominent Baptist pastors on Trump’s faith advisory team while he was president were Robert Jeffress of First Baptist Church in Dallas and Jack Graham of Prestonwood Baptist Church in Plano, Texas. Neither Jeffress nor Graham appear to have mentioned the new faith advisory team on their otherwise very active Twitter feeds.
The new group’s website touts its purpose: “The same trusted team that served in the halls of the White House for four years will continue to advocate for the issues you hold dear.”
And in a welcome letter on the site, the three leaders of the movement entice prospective members with these words: “We accomplished so much together at the White House during the Trump administration as we fought for people of faith every day. With your help we built a unique coalition of faith leaders — some who had been very involved but many who became involved for the first time. Through tens of thousands of you, we reached millions of people of faith.”
The reformed group — with no ties to official government power — “will continue our mission to work with you as a team to advocate for the most important issues to all of us with ONE strong voice,” the letter promises. “We will protect our religious freedoms here and abroad, in order to worship and live according to our faith.”
“It’s all based around God — it’s so important. God is so important to the success of what we’re doing. Because without God, we have nothing.” — Donald Trump
Members are promised “regular policy updates,” advocacy for “critical policy issues,” and access to “regular conference calls and events with prominent leaders.”
In his own comments during the online launch — which is now listed as a private video but was reported by Religion News Service — Trump was asked about the role of faith in his life. He replied: “It’s all based around God — it’s so important. God is so important to the success of what we’re doing. Because without God, we have nothing.”
The National Faith Advisory Board may be an attempt to replicate the White House Faith and Opportunity Initiative created by Trump in 2018 and also headed by White, a Florida televangelist of the prosperity gospel who is considered unorthodox — if not heretical — by most Christian clergy. On the day after the 2020 presidential election, White appeared on Facebook Live leading a prayer service where she called for “angelic reinforcement” from Africa and South America to secure the election for Trump.
Korn served as a special assistant to Trump through the White House Office of Public Liaison, a role her LinkedIn profile still lists as current eight months after Trump left office. She previously worked in various roles with Republican-affiliated organizations.
Vargo, who also worked in the Trump White House Office of Public Liaison, worked briefly for the Office of Management and Budget and before that worked for the conservative advocacy group Heritage Action for America.
The Trump team working on faith initiatives in the White House “grew to (become) the most robust coalition in modern-day history,” White declared. “Our unity brought unprecedented victories, influence and access.”
For his part, Trump chimed in with the kind of vague statements he has built his brand around:
Of the Biden administration: “A lot of things have happened with respect to faith and religion, and they’re not good things.”
Of his own successes: “One of my greatest honors was fighting for religious liberty and for defending the Judeo-Christian values and principles of our nation’s founding.”
Of the U.S. Supreme Court’s refusal to block the Texas abortion law: “Even last night, you’re getting some very powerful decisions, more powerful than anybody would have thought.”
Trump also continued to preach the Big Lie that he actually won the 2020 presidential election but it was “stolen” from him.
Of his failure to win over more Catholics in the 2020 election: “I’m a little bit surprised that we didn’t do better with the Catholic vote. I think now they would give us a vote. I think we got about 50 percent of the vote. And yet, we did a lot for the Catholic vote. So we’ll have to talk to them. We’re gonna have to meet with the Catholics.”
“Israel has never had a better friend, and yet I got 25% of the vote.”
Of his lack of support from the American Jewish community: “Look what I did with the embassy in Jerusalem and what I did with so many other things. … Israel has never had a better friend, and yet I got 25% of the vote.”
Of his potential run for the presidency again in 2024: “All I can tell you is that I think we have to have a great election and we have to have a powerful vote. If we don’t have a very powerful vote, then … I’ll be talking to you in the future, but it won’t be very positively.”
The name of at least one other religious leader supporting the new effort is known: Robert Morris, pastor of the multi-campus Gateway Church in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex.
Morris continues to preach the lie that the presidential election was “stolen” from Trump. He appeared at the end of the Sept. 2 video launch to pray for God’s intervention in this imagined theft: “I pray for those Americans that voted the wrong way. I pray, God, that they would see what … poor administration, what that does to a great nation. I pray, Lord, that you will do something even, also, Lord, for our election system. That we will never have another election stolen from the American people — from the American people.”
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