The Hispanic Baptist Pastors Alliance (HBPA) released a statement June 23 expressing concern over the agreement of faith leaders to join Donald Trump’s Evangelical Advisory Board. The statement came as a response to Trump, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, naming 25 individuals to advise him on religion and politics June 21.
Trump’s executive advisory board includes at least eight Southern Baptists, including Ronnie Floyd, immediate past president of the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC); David Jeremiah, pastor of Shadow Mountain Community Church, El Cajon, Calif.; and James MacDonald, pastor of Harvest Bible Church in Chicago, Ill. The Trump campaign released the list following an invitation-only meeting with about 1,000 evangelical pastors and leaders in New York, N.Y.
The Hispanic Baptist Pastors Alliance expressed concern for Trump’s questionable character and harsh language toward the Hispanic community, but more so for Southern Baptist pastors joining with faith leaders the council called “false teachers.” The statement specifically named Kenneth Copeland and Paula White, two televangelists identified with preaching a prosperity gospel.
“They have deceived many in our Hispanic communities,” the council stated in the response. “In our churches, we have received many who have been victims of their fairy tales and false promises. … By being part of a board with people like Copeland and White we send the wrong message to our churches and to our society, as if they are ‘evangelicals’ as we are.”
Former SBC presidents Jimmy Draper and Jerry Vines also released an open letter calling Southern Baptists to “be unified in faith and conduct.” Prompted by controversy over the attendance of Southern Baptists at the June 21 meeting with Trump and the willingness of some to serve as advisors, they wrote, “Let us not use our ‘liberty’ to attack and denigrate fellow believers who exercise their ‘liberty’ in a different way.”
Draper, who served as SBC president 1982-1984, and Vines, who served 1989-1990, said serving on the advisory board is not an endorsement by any of the pastors but an opportunity for faith leaders to provide godly counsel to a presidential nominee.
According to the Trump campaign, members of the advisory board will convene on a regular basis and be responsible for leading a larger Faith and Cultural Advisory Committee that has yet to be announced.