donald-trumpCraig Robinson of The Iowa Republican today defended The FAMiLY Leader’s decision to have Donald Trump speak at their upcoming FAMiLY Leadership Summit.  He said that Kevin Hall and I (I was one of the “other Iowa blogs” he mentions) were missing the big picture.  Perhaps. I don’t know Bob Vander Plaats’ motivations and did not speculate as to why Donald Trump was invited as others have done.

I don’t want to beat a dead horse.  I wasn’t planning on addressing this topic again (especially so soon after writing my first post), but I did want to clarify my critique and respond to Craig’s post since he linked me in with his comments.

I’ll first just reiterate what The FAMiLY Leader says the purpose of the Summit is to “educate and mobilize the conservative base regarding worldview application and issues that impact the family.”

Will Donald Trump help educate and mobilize the conservative base regarding worldview application and issues that impact the family?  I argue, probably not.    Does that mean he doesn’t have anything worthwhile to say?  No, but based on The FAMiLY Leader’s own description of the event, and observing their own tone and rhetoric on leadership this, in my opinion, doesn’t send the best message.

Others are obviously free to feel differently.  My intent was not and is not to throw The FAMiLY Leader under the bus.  I believe their Summit last year was a great event and I believe this year’s will be a good event as well.  I believed this particular invitation was inconsistent with the stated purpose of The FAMiLY Leader as an organization and the Summit.  I’m not looking for ways to criticize The FAMiLY Leader as some others who blasted them for this decision seem to do.

If their purpose is to attract a bigger tent then fine, say so.  Robinson made the point they didn’t pick and choose who was invited for their Presidential lecture series, that’s true.  That series also held a different purpose – vetting Presidential candidates.  If that were the purpose of the Summit and Trump was a candidate then by all means invite him!  That isn’t the purpose for the Summit.

I wanted to specifically address this particular point he made:

Lately, we have a situation in our state where Republicans often criticize our own state party officials for not being more inclusive or open to the differing views within the party.  Yet, now we seem to be condemning Vander Plaats for being inclusive of those he doesn’t necessarily agree with.  The implication is that Christians should only associate with perfect or nearly perfect people. Last I checked, churches are not just for those of us who have been saved, but more importantly, they are for those who are looking for direction in their lives.

Let me respond.

  1. The FAMiLY Leader is not the Republican Party of Iowa – they serve a different purpose.  I think we all can agree on that.
  2. My criticizing a decision made by The FAMiLY Leader is not condemning Vander Plaats.  Actually my critique wasn’t of Bob alone, but the organization (and I wasn’t condemning them either).  Perhaps Craig was directing this comment to somebody else, but to use “condemn” in the context of my post is to cheapen the word.
  3. My criticism also has nothing to do with who Christians associate with.  Frankly there are no perfect or nearly perfect people – Christians included.
  4. We are talking about a political event, not a church service, but to go with his analogy – as a former pastor I’d try to help any guest feel welcome, but that doesn’t mean I’d give them pulpit time.  Apples and oranges.

Anyway, I recognize that it’s probably not possible (or charitable) to un-invite Mr. Trump.  I’m not calling for anyone to boycott the Summit (I plan to attend).  I merely wanted to point out that based on their stated purpose having Donald Trump speak sends the wrong message.  I stand by that critique.  Craig and others are obviously free to feel differently.

Photo credit: Gage Skidmore via Flickr (CC-By-SA 2.0)

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