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Members of Trump's evangelical board have not yet endorsed him



Presumptive GOP nominee Donald Trump needs the support of evangelicals if he hopes to win the White House. To help solidify evangelical support, in June, Trump announced his Evangelical Executive Advisory Board, a group of 25 evangelical leaders. But not all members of his advisory board have endorsed Trump.

According to Chad Connelly, the Republican National Committee's Director of Faith Engagement, the lack of endorsements is because "there's not been a lot of relationships in the past, this is about building relationships."

According to the press release announcing its participants, the board is designed "to provide advisory support to Mr. Trump on those issues important to Evangelicals." And while the members and Trump are building relationships many participants have gone to great lengths to make sure that even though they are a part of the board people know their participation does not mean they endorse him.

Kenneth and Gloria Copeland, two members of the board, publicized on their website that their attendance doesn't mean they are endorsing Trump, adding that they will pray with any candidate who ask no matter what party they belong to.

Another member who has not endorsed Trump, Dr. Richard Land, said, "Is it not our spiritual obligation and responsibility to speak biblical truth in love to all who will listen? It is our duty to speak biblical truth to Mr. Trump. It is his responsibility as to how he responds to our counsel and advice."

Some members have embraced Trump, like Jerry Falwell Jr., the president of Liberty University.

In his endorsement, Falwell wrote, "I am proud to offer my endorsement of Donald J. Trump a successful executive and entrepreneur, a wonderful father and a man who I believe can lead our country to greatness again."

Evangelicals often vote in lockstep for Republicans at the urging of their leaders. They often have extensive "get out the vote" efforts. In 2012, about 24 million evangelicals voted for Republican nominee Mitt Romney. According to Pew, they made up 23 percent of the electorate and 79 percent of them voted for Romney.

Land knows that Trump will need evangelical support. "Mr. Trump will need the backing of the Evangelical faithful across the country, and there are steps he can take to ensure that support," he said.

Without the support of the religious right, Dr. Land thinks Trump's chances are slim.

"He can't win... He may not be able to win with it. But he certainly can't win without it," Land said.

A study of 600 conservative pastors conducted by the American Culture & Faith Institute found a reduction in enthusiasm for this election compared with past cycles. They noted a marked decrease in pastors urging parishioners to vote, and holding voter registration drives.

While the lack of enthusiasm could prove problematic for Trump, advisory board member Bishop Harry Jackson thinks that because Hillary Clinton is Trump's opponent, evangelicals will unite for Trump and against her.

"The choice is him against Hillary... Trump can capitalize on being against some of the things Hillary stands for," Jackson said.

Land agrees that the biggest thing Trump has going for him with evangelicals is Hillary.

"I don't know any evangelicals, personally, for whom Donald Trump was their first choice. I don't know many for whom he was their second, third, fourth, or fifth choice. For many of them he was their 17th choice out of 17. But he is running against Hillary Clinton who is the chairman of the board of corruption Inc... Don't underestimate the prospect of president Hillary Clinton to unite a significant portion of evangelicals," Land said.

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