GOP picks Trump; Lucifer invoked in race

"The president that we choose in November is not just a four-year decision but really a 40-year decision."

-- Mark Harris

CLEVELAND (BP) -- Donald Trump officially became the Republican Party's presidential nominee Tuesday (July 19) on a day when the devil was invoked at the GOP convention as part of a reason not to vote for his Democratic opponent.

The controversial billionaire easily passed the 1,237 votes needed to secure the nomination during a state-by-state roll call, ending a divisive, even bitter, campaign season among Republicans.

In what was a foregone conclusion, Trump won with 1,725 delegates, easily surpassing other GOP candidates who had suspended their campaigns. The remaining delegates were split among Sen. Ted Cruz (475 delegates), Ohio Gov. John Kasich (120), Sen. Marco Rubio (114), neurosurgeon Ben Carson (7), former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush (3) and Sen. Rand Paul (2), according to USA Today.

Trump, who has never held public office, will face presumptive Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton in the race for the White House, barring an unforeseen development. Clinton -- the former secretary of state, U.S. senator and first lady -- is slated to gain her party's nomination during its convention July 25-28 in Philadelphia.

Admitting he is not "politically correct," Carson indirectly linked Clinton to Satan in telling delegates Tuesday night the country would never recover if she were elected.

One of Clinton's heroes and mentors was community organizer Saul Alinsky, who "affected all of her philosophy," Carson said. In the front of his book "Rules for Radicals," Alinsky "acknowledges Lucifer, the original radical who gained his own kingdom," Carson said.

"So are we willing to elect someone as president who has as their role model somebody who acknowledges Lucifer? Think about that," he said.

The secular, progressive agenda of Clinton and others is antithetical to the principles of America's founders, Carson said. "And if we continue to allow them to take God out of our lives, God will remove Himself from us. We will not be blessed, and our nation will go down the tubes, and we will be responsible for that."

While many Christians would not agree progressives can remove God from Americans' lives, the official nomination of Trump appears unlikely to end the debate on how Southern Baptists and other evangelicals should respond to a Trump-Clinton race.

Trump's candidacy has divided Southern Baptists, other evangelicals and conservatives. Some have supported Trump in the primaries or plan to vote for him in the general election as an alternative to Clinton; others have declared their opposition will continue through the general election.

Using the hashtag #NeverTrump on Twitter, objectors to the candidacy of the businessman/reality television star have made no-vote promises based on his inconsistent and even harsh policy positions on such issues as abortion, religious liberty and immigration; insult-laden rhetoric; and a lifestyle marked by adultery.

Southern Baptist pastor Mark Harris, who was to be a delegate to the Republican National Convention but stepped aside to be with a "father in the ministry" who has entered hospice care, said he is "cautiously optimistic" Trump will advance a socially conservative agenda.

"I think you have to look at the choice between him and Hillary Clinton, and then I think you have to look at the long view," Harris told Baptist Press in a phone interview.

"The president that we choose in November is not just a four-year decision but really a 40-year decision," said Harris, senior pastor of First Baptist Church in Charlotte, N.C. "And I think that's very important for Southern Baptists. I think that's very important for all Christians to stop and consider, because really and truly it's no secret that this next president will have several Supreme Court [nominations]."

Thus, Harris said, "... when I look at that, I think there is no choice but to go with Donald Trump. And I realize that there's plenty of others who have not come to that same conclusion, but I think some of them may very well come to it between now and November."

His reasons for being hopeful Trump will govern as a social conservative are the nominee's selection of Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, a pro-life evangelical, as his running mate; the support of former Southern Baptist pastor and Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee for the nominee; and Trump's apparent willingness to receive counsel, Harris said.

Harris -- who has campaigned as a Republican in races for both the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives -- supported Huckabee initially for the GOP presidential nomination but became a delegate for Cruz.

Another Southern Baptist running for Congress as a Republican told BP evangelicals don't really have a candidate from the two major parties.

"[T]he bottom line is that there is not truly a candidate in this race who carries the banner of anything like a Christian conservatism," said Hunter Baker, associate professor of political science at Union University in Jackson, Tenn., and a candidate for the GOP's nomination in the state's Eighth District.

Clinton "represents advancing, aggressive secularism which threatens a wide variety of Christians and Christian organizations," Baker said, while Trump "is little more than a wild card who may be better depending on those persons with whom he surrounds himself."

"Evangelicals have reached an extraordinary point in their political lives," Baker said in written comments. "After making major contributions to the public agenda in terms of the pro-life movement, the school choice revolution, the defense of marriage, and other areas, they find themselves essentially at sea in the current presidential race."

The primary in Baker's race is Aug. 4.

In Rules for Radicals, Alinsky offered the following: "Lest we forget at least an over-the-shoulder acknowledgment to the very first radical: from all our legends, mythology, and history (and who is to know where mythology leaves off and history begins -- or which is which), the first radical known to man who rebelled against the establishment and did it so effectively that he at least won his own kingdom -- Lucifer."

Tom Strode is the Washington bureau chief for Baptist Press, news service of the Southern Baptist Convention.
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