Why will religious right leaders be meeting with Trump during Pride month?

Trump evangelical Christians
Pastor Joshua Nink, right, prays for Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, as his wife, Melania, watches after a Sunday service at First Christian Church, in Council Bluffs, Iowa, in January 2016. Photo: Jae C. Hong/AP

Why are “concerned” evangelicals waiting until Pride month to talk to Trump about paying a porn actress to cover up a sexual tryst, and what else is on their agenda?

“We’re very concerned about it [the allegations],” said a leader of a faith-based ministry involved in organizing the meeting, which will take place on June 19 at Trump International Hotel in Washington, DC.

Evangelical leaders are concerned that the scandal, combined with Trump’s divisive rhetoric will keep evangelicals away from the polls in November.

They’re right to worry. Women and people of color are already shying away from the evangelical movement, mainly because of Trump’s scandals and xenophobic rhetoric. Meanwhile, Democratic challengers are threatening the GOP’s majority in the House.

But if it’s so urgent, why are they waiting until June? And why are they waiting until the middle of Pride month? The Stormy Daniels story is only likely to get bigger between now and then. There’s a new development almost every other day.

How could it take evangelical leaders so long to get a meeting with Trump? Given how much they’ve touted their close relationship with this administration, one imagines they in touch with the White House on a regular basis.

Evangelical leaders have been tying themselves in knots to excuse Trump for having a tumble with Ms. Daniels while he had a pregnant third wife at home. It’s unlikely that they’re suddenly going to change their tune.

“It is a concern of ours that 2018 could be very detrimental to some of the other issues that we hold dear,” said the unnamed evangelical leader.

You can just bet it is.

According to at least one source, Trump is most likely going to be asked about various affairs and allegations in a “sidebar” conversation. The main topic of discussion is most likely going to be what the White House can do to shore up enthusiasm among evangelical voters.

Evangelical leaders are unlikely to persuade Trump to change his rhetoric or attitude. That’s probably not even their goal.

The topic of this meeting is probably going to be what the Trump administration can do on the issues that evangelical leaders “hold dear,” to keep evangelical voters in the fold. That means things like abortion access, “religious freedom,” and LGBT equality are going to be on the table.

Evangelical leaders are going to hedge their bets that if they can persuade the Trump administration to give them a few “wins,” evangelical voters will look past the Trump’s tawdriness and their leadership’s hypocrisy, take to the polls. They’re seeking Trump’s help in turning back the clock on reproductive freedom and reversing gains in LGBT equality, to help them hold on to their power.

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