James MacDonald, pastor of Illinois’ Harvest Bible Chapel, was responding to crude comments Trump made in a 2005 “Access Hollywood” audio recording, in which the candidate was caught on a hot mic talking how he felt free to sexually assault women because he was a “star.” MacDonald roundly condemned the idea that such language was merely “locker room banter.”
“Mr. Trump’s comments released yesterday — though 10 years ago (he was 60) — are not just sophomoric or locker room banter. They are truly the kind of misogynistic trash that reveals a man to be lecherous and worthless — not the guy who gets politely ignored, but the guy who gets a punch in the head from worthy men who hear him talk that way about women,” MacDonald wrote in an email sent to several members of Trump’s faith council.
MacDonald went on to write that he does not want to offer Trump any more of his time without seeing evidence of a “change of heart and direction.”
“If Mr. Trump isn’t seeking our counsel now— 1) to be repentant 2) on how to portray that repentance, then the idea of a faith council (which has deteriorated into influence brokering anyway) is really kind of a joke right?,” the pastor wrote in the email. “I have spent my life helping men get free from such disgusting commentary on women — even writing my doctoral dissertation on self-disclosure of sin among men. I cannot and will not offer help to a man who believes this kind of talk a minor error.”
The email was published with MacDonald’s permission on the blog of the Wheaton College professor Ed Stetzer.
MacDonald was one of 26 Christian leaders invited to be part of Trump’s evangelical executive advisory board in June. The leaders were not required to endorse Trump to join the board.
On his own blog, MacDonald said that he was initially impressed by Trump’s “authenticity” during their initial meeting in June. Most of all, the pastor wrote that he was impressed by the candidate’s views on the economy, his Supreme Court nominees, and his interest in repealing the Johnson Amendment, which restricts churches from endorsing political candidates.
“Since that meeting late last June, I have been waiting for the ‘Faith Council‘ to become a place where counsel is given about faith, or at least where people of faith offer counsel,” MacDonald wrote on his blog. “So far, there has been none of the former and only a wee bit of the latter.”
After the video leak, several members of the advisory board indicated that they are still firmly in the Trump camp. But as a whole, Protestant pastors are having a hard time deciding whom to vote for this election cycle.
During the past two election cycles, Protestant pastors favored Republican presidential candidates by at least 35 percentage points, according to a study conducted by the Christian research firm LifeWay Research. This year, Trump is leading by only 13 percentage points. About 40 percent of protestant pastors are still undecided.
MacDonald hasn’t officially withdrawn from Trump’s advisory board, but in a conversation with The Washington Post, he said that he’s “hanging on by a thread” and wouldn’t tolerate something similar happening in the future.
“If it exceeded the previous in any category, I think that would be the end,” he said.