Donald Trump's White House expanded its engagement with faith leaders last week by holding three different 'listening sessions' featuring nearly 100 different Christian leaders and activists, according to The Christian Post (CP).
Just weeks after a gathering of around 30 evangelical leaders met for an all-day session in Washington on July 10 that was marked by the evangelicals praying over the President in the Oval Office, the White House Office of Public Liaison expanded its evangelical outreach by inviting faith leaders who have not yet been involved in previous meetings with the administration to voice their concerns, CP reported.
The prominent evangelical Johnnie Moore, who serves as an informal adviser to the White House, told CP that he attended all three meetings held at the Eisenhower Executive Office Building in Washington.
'The White House has continued to have listening sessions with evangelical leaders and they had three more this week. Almost 100 evangelicals [participated],' said Moore, who heads a public relations company that gives voice to many notable evangelical pastors. 'Each listening session was about two hours and involved briefings from administration officials and an opportunity for folks to express their thoughts on various issues.'
Moore said that a meeting last Thursday morning featured a multi-denominational group of ministry leaders while the Thursday afternoon meeting featured mostly leaders from the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC).
'It wasn't just the group from two weeks ago, it was other people,' Moore added. 'The White House is interested in hearing from a large group of leaders.'
Others who participated in the meetings were the California evangelist Greg Laurie, the social conservative radio host and apologist Michael Brown and former SBC presidents Jack Graham and Ronnie Floyd.
Moore told the CP that Anne Graham Lotz, an evangelist and daughter of Billy Graham, was also present for at least one of the meetings.
The Florida televangelist Paula White, one of Trump's most favoured faith advisers, also participated.
Floyd told the CP that he participated in both of the meetings on Thursday. 'The goal has been evidently to try and widen the circles,' he said.
Moore explained that the listening sessions included quick briefings on various issues from officials in the White House's legislative and judicial affairs departments and that most of the sessions consisted of open-table discussions between the leaders with White House officials taking notes.
'It's a listening session,' Moore said. 'It's not about these leaders coming so they can be lectured to. It's about actually making an opportunity to come to the White House as citizens and faith leaders and talking about what was on their mind.'
Moore claimed that in due course, there 'will be more' such meetings between administration officials and the faith leaders.
'What I understand is they intend on inviting lots and lots and lots of leaders to listening sessions among various constituencies,' he said. 'There will be more of them. They want this to be people's house and they want to make sure there is no problem getting in touch with them and expressing points of view and those points of view are taken into account.'
Floyd concurred, saying that there will be 'deeper engagement' between the White House and faith leaders.
'Regardless of what people say...there are two things we need to be encouraged [about],' he said. 'First, this administration has proven that they care about what people of faith want and what people of faith are concerned about and they are addressing them. It is very obvious that they are addressing them. Secondly, this administration ... is zealous for people to pray for them. Obviously, they need it and we all need it in our country and they are very willing to pursue God about matters in this relationship and asking people to pray for them.'