A former Southern Baptist Convention official who sits on President-elect Donald Trump’s evangelical advisory board says even he is surprised by the amount of input the group is having in helping to shape the incoming administration.
“I’ve been solicited five times now for personnel recommendations, for resumes,” Richard Land, president of Southern Evangelical Seminary, said Jan. 10 on the Point of View radio program with religious broadcaster Kerby Anderson. “That didn’t happen in the Bush administration.”
Land, who previously served 25 years as head of the SBC Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, said previous administrations might listen to input from evangelical leaders, but the Trump transition team is actively seeking their advice in ways he has never seen.
“Some of my conservative friends and I, we have been pinching ourselves,” Land said. “Are we hallucinating, or is this actually happening?”
“I know a good number of people on the transition team and I can tell you right now, about half of them think I’m liberal,” he quipped. “I mean, these are very conservative people.”
Land, once criticized as a “stealth lobbyist” of the Religious Right for his under-the-radar access to the inner circle of the George W. Bush administration, said he has been “pleasantly” and “shockingly” surprised by unprecedented input evangelicals are having into shaping the Trump White House.
“I can’t tell you everything I know here, but I can tell you this,” Land said. “This administration is going to have more conservative Christians — Catholic and evangelical — in it than any administration that I have been associated with or had contact with, and I’ve been doing this since Reagan.”
Land, who retired as the Southern Baptist Convention’s top spokesman for public policy concerns in 2013, is often contrasted to his successor Russell Moore, who has criticized the Religious Right and said younger Southern Baptists don’t want to be tied to a political party.
”The go-along, get-along strategy is dead,” Land famously said in a 1998 New York Times story about frustration in the Religious Right with GOP candidates who failed to deliver on promises to act on issues like abortion, pornography and homosexuality.
“No more engagement,” Land said. “We want a wedding ring. We want a ceremony. We want a consummation of the marriage.”
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SOURCE: Baptist News Global