President Donald Trump threw a lavish dinner this week for prominent evangelical leaders to thank them for supporting his administration.
The president and First Lady threw a dinner for approximately 100 people in the State Dining Room, where the gathering enjoyed a menu of Alaskan halibut, with all the trimmings, served on White House china.
“It was a very elegant dinner. A state dinner, in essence, is what it amounted to,” recalls Tim Wildmon, who represented the Mississippi-based American Family Association where he serves as president.
Family Talk’s Dr. James Dobson, evangelist Rev. Franklin Graham, and Southern Baptist pastor Dr. Robert Jeffress, an advisor to Trump, were among the recognizable names who attended.
People representing the administration included Vice President Mike Pence and his wife Karen, and HUD Secretary Ben Carson, and Ambassador Sam Brownback, and White House advisor Kellyanne Conway.
Longtime conservative activist Gary Bauer used his August 28 “End of Day” commentary to describe an “extraordinary gathering” in which Trump turned over the podium to guests who wanted to share a few words.
“Standing under an imposing portrait of Abraham Lincoln,” Bauer wrote, “I did my best to remind the attendees of why Judeo-Christian civilization has brought so much freedom and prosperity to so many around the world.”
Bauer also commented that the formal gathering included a large number of minorities, who expressed their appreciation to Trump.
Wildmon tells OneNewsNow that the dinner was an attempt to show mutual appreciation.
“We wanted to express our appreciation to [Trump] for the things that he and his administration had done,” says Wildmon, “and he wanted to – as Donald Trump does – he wanted to go over his record of success.”
Few evangelical leaders threw their weight behind the brash billionaire Trump during the Republican primary in 2016, choosing to back other proven conservatives. But approximately 80 percent of evangelical voters rallied behind him on Election Day, giving Trump a greater percentage of the evangelical vote than George W. Bush.
Political observers have viewed that overwhelming decision as a vote against Hillary Clinton rather than enthusiastic support for Trump, and many Christian leaders who gathered Monday at the White House have taken heat for their continued support of Trump whose most recent moral problem is reports of hush money paid to a porn star and a Playboy playmate.
Perhaps no evangelical leader has been vilified as much as Jeffress, who stood with Trump early in the primaries and warned his brethren that he was backing the only GOP candidate who could defeat Clinton.
“I know a lot of people are still perplexed: Why are Christians so supportive of Donald Trump?” Jeffress told Fox News hours before the dinner. “Well, it’s really not that hard to figure out when you realize he is the most pro-life, pro-religious liberty, pro-conservative judiciary in history, and that includes either Bush or Ronald Reagan.”
Wildmon tells OneNewsNow that he dined with White House press secretary Sarah Huckbee Sanders, Bauer, pastor Greg Laurie, and Jerry Johnson, president of the National Religious Broadcasters.
“I was very honored to be a part of that,” Wildmon says of the dinner, “and I’ll always remember that the rest of my life.”
Trump’s remarks at the dinner can be read here.