Magazine article Church & State

Narrow Agendas, Secret Meetings: The Problem with Trump's Evangelical Board

Magazine article Church & State

Narrow Agendas, Secret Meetings: The Problem with Trump's Evangelical Board

Article excerpt

The response to Americans United's assertion that President Donald Trump's Evangelical Advisory Board is violating federal law by meeting in secret has been unusual, to say the least: Members of the board assert that it doesn't actually exist!

The claim, being made primarily by Johnnie Moore, the board's spokesman, is nothing short of ridiculous.

As Americans United noted in its letter to government officials, members of the board have been boasting about the influence and power they have over the Trump administration. Moore himself has bragged that the advisory board has a "pretty significant" hand in "directing or affecting" administration policy. These include, according to Moore, "policy and personnel decisions particularly affecting religious liberty, judges, the right to life and foreign policy."

The advisory board persuaded Trump to reverse an Obama-era policy allowing transgender troops to serve in the military, and it had significant input over a Trump executive order that established a White House Faith and Opportunity Initiative. Trump's efforts to repeal the Johnson Amendment, a federal law that protects the integrity of houses of worship by keeping nonprofits out of electoral politics--although so far unsuccessful--also came at the board's behest.

Most recently, the advisory board met with Trump at the White House on Aug. 27 to discuss issues "such as religious freedom, immigration reform, criminal justice and prison reform and judicial nominations. …

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