Anti-Trump group targets evangelical millennials

Jon Ward
Senior Political Correspondent

A super-PAC devoted to defeating Donald Trump is targeting young evangelical Christians in North Carolina with a new campaign ad launching Wednesday, in hopes of peeling off support for the Republican presidential nominee in that key battleground state.

Not Who We Are PAC is launching an ad campaign featuring Christian musician William Matthews, who has been associated with Bethel Music, a group of musicians with roots in North Carolina.

A 60-second video will go out on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, with a modest $8,000 social media buy. But given the specificity of the target audience — millennial evangelical Christians in North Carolina who have shown an interest in Matthews or Bethel Music — NWWA PAC hopes it can have an outsized effect, a spokesman said.

The video shows Matthews praying in church and standing in front of an altar with a cross on the wall. “We have power to stop one of the most dangerous candidates we have ever experienced in our lifetime,” he says. “Donald Trump is dangerous.”

NWWA is also releasing a six-minute extended cut video in which Matthews and the husband and wife musical duo Gungor perform the song “Free.”

Matthews, in a testimonial on a website created by NWWA with stories of several people — Muslim members of the U.S. military, children of undocumented immigrants, a single mom who says she was scammed by Trump University — who believe Trump should not be president, bases his opposition to Trump on the Republican candidate’s rhetoric on race.

“Racism strikes at the heart of the gospel, and racial justice is at the core of Jesus’ message. Donald J. Trump has inspired a movement that perpetuates and condones racism in this country — both explicitly and implicitly,” Matthews says. “We cannot ignore this bigotry.”

NWWA does not advocate support for Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, and neither does Matthews. In fact, he gives a nod to the fact that many evangelicals may feel uncomfortable supporting a Democratic candidate, but argues that stopping Trump is his highest priority.

“No matter what other issues we also care about, Mr. Trump’s racist and xenophobic rhetoric and policies are morally unacceptable,” Matthews writes. “I’m proud to be both a Christian and an American, but Donald Trump is Not Who We Are.”

Younger evangelicals have less reflexive political allegiance to the Republican Party than older evangelicals, and Trump is accelerating that trend.

But Russell Moore, president of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, the public policy arm of the Southern Baptist Convention, said he is not overly concerned that younger white evangelicals will turn in droves to voting for Democratic politicians.

Moore, who has been the most outspoken evangelical critic of Trump over the past year, said liberal groups will not “have much success with younger evangelicals.”

“Younger evangelicals are too theologically defined,” Moore said. “The greater danger is [political] disengagement altogether.”

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