Ronnie Floyd, the immediate past president of the Southern Baptist Convention, will join dozens of other conservative Christian leaders offering counsel to Donald Trump as part of the presumptive Republican presidential nominee’s new religious advisory board.
The Trump campaign announced the 25-member board that is expected to focus on issues that matter to evangelicals and other people of faith on Tuesday, which is the same day Trump met with hundreds of Christian conservatives in New York City.
Floyd, who ended his term as president of the Nashville-based Southern Baptist Convention last week, said Monday in a statement to The Tennessean that he planned to attend Tuesday’s meetings, but had yet to commit to anything further. The outgoing head of the largest Protestant denomination in the U.S. and senior pastor of Cross Church in Arkansas did not respond Tuesday to a follow-up request for comment.
The panel, which will meet regularly, also includes former U.S. congresswoman Michele Bachmann and Focus on the Family founder James Dobson and will serve as the executive board for a bigger Faith and Cultural Advisory Committee, a Trump campaign news release stated. The larger committee will be announced later in June.
“I have such tremendous respect and admiration for this group, and I look forward to continuing to talk about the issues important to evangelicals, and all Americans, and the common sense solutions I will implement when I am president,” said Trump in a news release.
Members of the board were not asked to endorse the presidential hopeful but some have, such as Liberty University President Jerry Falwell Jr. While others have publicly criticized the candidate, such as Richard Land, the Southern Evangelical Seminary president and former head of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission.
“Depending on the profile of the people in the group, it might also be a rallying group that would attract others,” Ingram said.
Since Trump is such a divisive figure, Thomas Kidd, a history professor at Baylor University and co-author of “Baptists in America: A History,” said advisory board members should consider whether they’re on it to offer advice or to boost voters’ perceptions of Trump.
“I understand that membership does not technically mean endorsement, but we may assume that the Trump campaign will portray members as endorsers,” Kidd said. “Many conservative Christians find Trump to be utterly unacceptable as a candidate. Is it worth it for any faith leader to spend so much capital supporting Trump, if he is such a divisive figure in one’s church, college or denomination?”
Reach Holly Meyer at 615-259-8241 and on Twitter @HollyAMeyer.