Pence Reaches Out to Evangelicals. Not All of Them Reach Back.


But the Trump presidency does not inspire lockstep allegiance among evangelicals, and that divide was evident this week in Dallas. On Tuesday, open protest over Mr. Pence’s participation broke out on the convention floor, when some pastors made several motions to prevent the vice president from addressing the group. Some were especially concerned about the administration’s stance on immigration and race, and Mr. Pence’s allegiance to a president who has been accused of multiple instances of sexual misconduct.

Garrett Kell, a pastor from Alexandria, Va., proposed using the time allotted to Mr. Pence for a prayer session, to avoid sending a signal that evangelical faith is aligned with the Trump administration. The measure failed to pass, but, significantly, a third of the attendees voted to support his proposal.

Some pastors decided to not attend the vice president’s speech in protest, and said they would pray instead. Cam Triggs, a pastor in Orlando, Fla., who started the Grace Alive church last year and who supported a resolution at the convention on racial reconciliation, said several factors prompted him to skip the vice president’s speech.

“As a minority, I definitely feel hurt by this particular allowance for him to speak at the convention, by the insensitivity of remarks by the administration,” Mr. Triggs, 30, said in an interview, alluding to topics like immigration. For some people, he added, “It can appear as campaign mobilization.”

Dean Inserra, who leads City Church in Tallahassee, Fla., a 1,000-person congregation comprising mostly young people, said that much of the pushback on Mr. Pence’s appearance came from nonwhite pastors. “Right now, the reputation we have is an organization of Trump supporters,” he said in an interview. “It shows the world that we are more of a voting bloc for the GOP, and that is really unfortunate.”

But the majority of attendees supported Mr. Pence’s participation. He received several standing ovations, and someone even called out, “Four more years!” as he started to speak. “That says so much about this administration, that he would want to come and express his appreciation to us for all that we do,” Brandon Park, who leads Connection Point Church in Raytown, Mo., said in an interview.

Evangelicals hear what they want to about the Trump administration, he said, adding “It’s like Yanny versus Laurel.”


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