Republican presidential contender and celebrity billionaire Donald Trump will meet privately with a group of Christian leaders at the behest of Florida megachurch pastor and prosperity preacher Paula White.
The Wall Street Journal reported that news Wednesday, citing public relations executive Sheila Withum, who said she received an invitation to the gathering, composed of "selected Christian leaders and ministry professionals."
Withum reportedly revealed that the private gathering was scheduled to take place on Sept. 28 at the Trump Tower in New York City. She described the gathering as "a small group meeting, maximum 30 people," according to the Wall Street Journal.
"Mr. Trump's goal is simple, to hear the heart of America's Christian leaders and learn what they feel are the most critical issues facing our nation today," Withum was quoted as telling the publication.
The Trump organization's executive vice president, Michael Cohen, described the independently organized meeting as a "prayer service" featuring "a significant number of pastors from across the country."
Cohen "said 'the evangelical community,' led by Paula White, a Florida evangelical preacher with a daily television show on The Word Network, was arranging the session," the Wall Street Journal reported.
The publication noted that during Trump's 2012 run for the presidency, Pastor White arranged a similar meeting and the multi-billionaire also appeared on the minister's religious television program, "Paula White Today" years prior.
White and Trump previously have been described as close friends.
White is the senior pastor of New Destiny Christian Center in Apopka, Florida, a multi-cultural ministry founded in 1996 by late pastor Zachery Tims. White succeeded Tims after the 42-year-old pastor was found dead in a New York City hotel room in 2011. His cause of death was later revealed to have been "acute intoxication by the combined effects of cocaine and heroin."
White, who views popular megachurch pastor T.D. Jakes as a spiritual father, is commonly viewed as a prosperity preacher. Prosperity preachers are known to teach that God's material blessings can be won by Christians who give financially, usually to these preacher's own ministries or by acting on their specific teachings (read "Pastor Paula White Claims July Is 'Prophetically Designated for Victory Over Enemies;' Suggests $229 'Breakthrough Seed' Donation"). Some Christian ministers who promote the prosperity teaching, however, insist that "prosperity is not just about finances," as White explains on her website.
White was also among a group of six televangelists targeted in 2007 by the Senate Committee on Finance for possible abuse of her ministry's nonprofit status. While White submitted a financial report to the committee, she failed to disclose her full financial dealings with her ministry and church, which at the time was Without Walls International Church.
The Christian Post's request for comment from White or a representative was still pending at press time.
Trump has said that the Bible is his favorite book and describes himself as a Presbyterian, but in a Wednesday MSNBC interview, he declined to name some of his favorite verses.
A Reuters/Ipsos opinion poll revealed Tuesday that Trump had about a 30 percent approval rating, with former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee behind him with 10 percent, and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and Dr. Ben Carson both tied at third with eight percent. Trump was also leading the pack in terms of wooing "Republican-leaning evangelicals," according to a July 16-19 ABC/Washington Post Poll.
The Christian Post recently published a round-up of remarks Trump has made about his Christian faith and why he believes, if elected, he would be "the greatest jobs president God ever created." Read that report here: "6 Interesting Facts About Donald Trump's Christian Faith."
In a July interview with C-SPAN, Trump explained how he views repentance and forgiveness, as seen in the video excerpt below: