In an extremely rare move, a group of US evangelical leaders has issued a statement criticising Donald Trump's White House and Republican lawmakers for passing what they call an 'immoral' spending bill in 'a moment of weakness'.
The statement was tweeted by Johnnie Moore, a key coordinator of evangelical supporters around Trump, and retweeted by fellow evangelical Eric Metaxas, former Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee and others. It said that the budget 'constitutes an immoral betrayal by the leadership of the Republican party'.
The statement criticised the $1.3 trillion budget for adding to the national debt, providing funding for Planned Parenthood and failing to protect 'Dreamers' who were brought to the US illegally as children.
'Sliding in $500 million dollars for Planned Parenthood in the Omnibus Spending bill constitutes an immoral betrayal by the leadership of the Republican Party and we are sorely disappointed the White House was unable to do more to stop it,' the statement said. 'This constituted a moment of weakness for an administration marked by the strength of its rhetoric and action.'
The evangelical leaders said that while they ultimately hold the Republican leadership in Congress responsible for the mistakes, they wanted to 'make it clear' that more is expected from President Trump's White House.
The White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said yesterday that Trump's base still supports him. 'I think that the people of this country came out by the millions to support Donald Trump, support his agenda and the policies he's pushing forward and he has been delivering day in, day out on that front,' she said. 'He's kept a number of his campaign promises and that's only been within the first year and a half. I think the people that voted for and came out and supported him still do so and do so because of the agenda he was driving.'
But in their statement, the evangelical leaders challenged Trump and the Republican leadership to change their approach, saying: 'Next time the administration should send a different message – "look me in the eyes; this is no longer business-as-usual"'.
Moore wrote in his tweet: 'Please find below a statement signed onto by a growing number of evangelical friends of the White House (including myself) to clearly criticise the Omnibus Spending bill passed by Congress & signed by @POTUS, even while supporting necessity of avoiding a government shutdown.'
Moore told The Christian Post yesterday that the former Southern Baptist Convention President Jack Graham 'led a few of us in jointly drafting a statement which people "signed on to" by tweeting/posting it'.
He added: 'Some of those who did included Jack Graham, Eric Metaxas, Mike Huckabee, Samuel Rodriguez, myself, and many, many, many others tweeted it. Huckabee's tweet alone was retweeted almost 800 times and liked almost 3,000 times. Today, My Faith Votes will send a similar statement to hundreds of thousands of people via email.'