Conservative evangelical leaders have issued a rare public condemnation of the Donald Trump White House after the president signed an "immoral" spending bill that they say "constituted a moment of weakness" for his administration.
Evangelical leaders with close ties to the administration were quick to voice their disapproval of the $1.3 trillion omnibus bill passed by Congress and signed by the president last Friday, because the bill provides substantial funding to the nation's largest abortion provider, significantly adds to the national debt, and fails to protect unauthorized immigrants brought to the country as children.
A statement that emerged Saturday afternoon that was signed by a number of evangelical leaders recognizes the serious threat to national security a government shutdown could cause. However, the leaders don't think that is a good excuse to pass what they consider to be an "immoral budget" on a number of fronts.
"Yet, sliding in $500 million dollars for Planned Parenthood in the Omnibus Spending bill constitutes an immoral betrayal by the leadership of the Republican Party and we are sorely disappointed the White House was unable to do more to stop it," the statement explains. "This constituted a moment of weakness for an administration marked by the strength of its rhetoric and action."
The statement was tweeted out by Johnnie Moore, an evangelical public relations executive who works closely in an informal advisory role with the administration. Moore also handles media relations for a number of Trump's informal evangelical advisors.
"Please find below a statement signed onto by a growing number of evangelical friends of the White House (including myself) to clearly criticize the Omnibus Spending bill passed by Congress & signed by @POTUS, even while supporting necessity of avoiding a government shutdown," Moore wrote in his tweet.
Moore told The Christian Post on Tuesday that former Southern Baptist Convention President Jack Graham "led a few of us in jointly drafting a statement which people 'signed on to' by tweeting/posting it."
"Some of those who did included Jack Graham, Eric Metaxas, Mike Huckabee, Samuel Rodriguez, myself, and many, many, many others tweeted it," Moore explained. "Huckabee's tweet alone was retweeted almost 800 times and liked almost 3000 times. Today, My Faith Votes will send a similar statement to hundreds of thousands of people via email."
The statement comes as pro-lifers have pushed for years to strip Planned Parenthood of its annual funding. With Republicans controlling both houses of Congress and the White House after the 2016 election, prominent pro-lifers were somewhat optimistic that Planned Parenthood would be stripped of its federal funding last year.
"The Trump administration has certainly demonstrated an unwavering — if not, historic — commitment to prioritize the sanctity of human life through actions like the expansion of the Mexico City Policy, and by working meticulously to undo excessive government regulations that intentionally violate the conscience protections of pro-life Americans," the statement reads. "This is why we are disappointed they didn't fight harder."
The evangelical leaders' statement was also critical of other elements of the omnibus bill.
"The problems with this budget do not end there," the statement added. "It continues to expand the size of government on the backs of our future generations, it failed to force meaningful funding for border security and to support DACA recipients."
The statement concludes by stating that it ultimately holds to GOP leadership in the House and Senate responsible for the bill. However, the leaders wanted to "make it clear" that more was expected from the White House.
"Next time, the administration should send a different message — 'look me in the eyes; this is no longer business-as-usual.'"
Moore told CP that he feels the Republican leadership in Congress put the White House in an "untenable position of choosing between the military and a government shutdown."
"We supported the military funding entirely, but we generally believe that should have been done separately and not part of a mammoth spending bill filled with special interests, some of which are immoral interests," Moore explained. "It was a brazen failure by Republican leadership."
Other conservatives have also condemned the final spending bill.
"This omnibus is nowhere close to what Republicans promised to fight for," Rep. Mark Meadows, R-N.C., wrote in a public statement last week.
Tom McClusky, vice president of government affairs for March for Life, said in a statement that Congress is broken.
"It cannot continue doing business through large ominous Omnibus or Continuing Resolutions," McClusky said. "Until Congress repairs itself pro-life priorities, such as much needed conscience protections, will never get passed."