I am the president of the Southern Baptist Convention, the largest evangelical denomination in the U.S., and I have agreed to meet with Donald Trump.
While I have no intention of endorsing Donald Trump — or any other candidate for that matter — I believe it is incumbent upon me to learn all I can about each candidate and their platform. Therefore, it is a privilege to be given the opportunity to meet with Mr. Trump.
Of course, as with many conservative evangelicals I have struggled with where we see matters today. Some of Mr. Trump’s comments about women, minorities and immigrants are concerning.
At the same time, what do we do? Stay at home?
Absolutely not! We cannot change what exists, alter it or adjust it by sitting on the sidelines and complaining about what we don’t like.
Christians have a biblical responsibility to govern our personal, moral lives, but we also have a responsibility as citizens of the United States to express the civic privilege afforded to us—that men and women have died on the battlefield to give us—and I’m not walking away from that privilege of voting.
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There is too much at stake before us.
This election is about who will appoint as many as four Supreme Court justices. This election is about the dignity of human life from the womb to the tomb. This election is about the most significant religious freedom concerns in American history.
I’m not about to sit at home on Election Day because I’m accountable to God and, I believe, I am accountable to my fellow Americans to vote.
This is why I am meeting with Donald Trump, and why I would be willing to also meet with Hillary Clinton.
While we are founded upon Judeo-Christian principles, America was never meant to be a theocracy in the first place and we are not electing a Pastor-in-Chief.
The meeting in New York City on June 21 is a conversation with Donald Trump.
We will not be there to listen to a speech. We will be there to get to know one another – to talk.
The meeting will not be hostile or confrontational.
We will share with him the things that matter most to us as conservative evangelicals, and we will ask him questions and he will ask us questions. While friendly and conciliatory, it will also be honest and forthright.
We have not been asked to endorse him nor have any of us overtly condemned him. We’ve just quietly prayed and observed and now we’re choosing to meet.
Most of all we want to get to know the presumptive Republican nominee better and we want to know him personally. Most of us are pastors, and so this will help us pray for him and – hopefully – make us available to advise him.
The truth is we cannot judge or know whether Mr. Trump is a true believer or not — that’s God’s business. What we do know is what he has said and he says he will support those issues that conservative evangelicals are most concerned about. We also know that the Republican Party platform remains supportive of conservative judges, the dignity of human life, and preserving religious freedom.
I take that seriously.
Since Mr. Trump is not a career politician – the thing I do genuinely like about him — he does not have a record to rely upon, especially relating to his biggest decision of all: Who will serve beside him as the vice president of the United States?
This decision will tell us much about who he is and how he will choose to govern this nation if indeed he is elected. I’m sure this will also be an important topic of our conversation.
This fall, there will – in all likelihood – only be two real choices: Hillary Clinton or Donald J. Trump.
As I responded in a recent interview, “Could you vote for him? That’s the question at hand.”
Dr. Ronnie Floyd is Senior Pastor, Cross Church and President of the Southern Baptist Convention. Follow him on Twitter @ronniefloyd. Follow the Southern Baptist Convention @sbctoday. The opinions expressed in this piece are his alone.