NEW YORK CITY (ChurchMilitant.com) - On Tuesday, presumed Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump met with nearly 1,000 Evangelicals and social conservatives for a question-and-answer session in New York City.
The Q&A, called "A Conversation About America's Future with Donald Trump and Ben Carson," focused on issues like the sanctity of life and religious freedom. The organizers, My Faith Votes and United in Purpose, seek to bring about cultural change to the United States purely based on Judeo-Christian principles.
Reportedly some attendees of the event included Focus on the Family founder James Dobson, Southern Baptist Convention president Ronnie Floyd, Faith and Freedom Coalition's Ralph Reed, Penny Nance of Concerned Women for America, Bob McEwen and Kelly Shackleford of First Liberty, American Values president Gary Bauer, Family Leader president Bob Vander Plaats, Tim Wildmon of the American Family Association, and megachurch pastors Jack Graham and Ed Young.
Protestants remain cautious about Trump's record on abortion. Although Trump used to support the right to abortion, he claims he has since changed his mind and now only supports certain abortion exceptions for rape and incest. But his lack of consistency on life and its impact on Evangelicals is showing in the polls.
In a Super Tuesday exit poll in March, two out of three Evangelicals voted for someone other than Donald Trump. Analysts claim receiving only a plurality in a strictly Republican poll doesn't bode well for him in a general election.
This early campaign season data suggests that in the general election, Trump will get no more than 20 percent of Evangelicals' votes.
When voters were asked how much religion matters when they vote for a candidate, they were given two answers to choose from: "A great deal" or "Somewhat." Slightly over half responded "A great deal," and these voters did not even give Trump the plurality of the votes, choosing either Cruz or Rubio. Slightly under half, however, responded "Somewhat," and slightly under half of that crowd voted for someone other than Trump.
On Super Tuesday, Trump did better among people with no religious motivation (41%), yet he had his worst numbers with people who were the most motivated by religion (30%).
But Trump has been trying to take the edge off the standoffishness of many Evangelicals and pro-lifers by emphasizing that he would pick a pro-life Supreme Court justice.
In early May, Trump said he would "protect [human life] ... and the biggest way you can protect it is through the Supreme Court and putting people in the Court, and actually the biggest way [you] can protect it, I guess, is by electing me president."
He also clarified his position on issues of life.
"I've become pro-life," he said. "I was in a meek fashion pro-choice, but I've become pro-life. And the reason is I've seen ... in my case, one specific situation ... but numerous situations that have made me to go that way."
Trump has also said he would defund Planned Parenthood if they continued abortions, even though he has praised the abortion giant for its other services.
According to this report from Planned Parenthood, the abortion giant makes 86 percent of its revenue from abortion. When Cecile Richards was asked in a hearing about the percent of revenue made, she did not deny the 86 percent figure.
After Trump was criticized for recommending his pro-abortion sister Marianne Trump to the Supreme Court, in May he released a list of 11 people he would recommend to the High Court, including pro-life judges William H. Pryor, Jr. of the 11th U.S. Court of Appeals, Diane Sykes of the Seventh U.S. Court of Appeals and Raymond Gruender of the Eighth U.S. Court of Appeals.
At the end of the month, Trump met with 20 social conservatives in a closed-door meeting regarding his political views and the possibility of collaborating, which many believe led to the Q&A session Tuesday.