Trump to speak at evangelical meeting in Orlando
© Getty Images

Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpKey takeaways from the Arizona Senate debate Major Hollywood talent firm considering rejecting Saudi investment money: report Mattis says he thought 'nothing at all' about Trump saying he may leave administration MORE will address a group of evangelical leaders in Orlando on Thursday, according to Bloomberg.

ADVERTISEMENT

The American Renewal Project, which is hosting the event, is expecting 700 conservative religious leaders and spouses to attend.

Critics are describing the meeting as an “anti-LGBT rally” and criticizing the group for holding it on the two-month anniversary of the mass shooting at Pulse, a gay nightclub in Orlando.

Sen. Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioDating app for Trump supporters leaked its users data on launch day: report Overnight Defense: Trump says 'rogue killers' could be behind missing journalist | Sends Pompeo to meet Saudi king | Saudis may claim Khashoggi killed by accident | Ex-VA chief talks White House 'chaos' | Most F-35s cleared for flight Democrats torch Trump for floating 'rogue killers' to blame for missing journalist MORE (R-Fla.) has come under fire for agreeing to speak at the event. 

Florida Democratic Party Chairwoman Allison Tant has called on the senator, who is running for reelection in the wake of his failed presidential bid, to cancel his scheduled appearance.

“After shamelessly using the Pulse tragedy as an excuse to break his word on not running for reelection, Marco Rubio is choosing to commemorate the two-month anniversary of the shooting by joining an anti-LGBT rally in Orlando,” Tant said in a statement Monday. 

“While Rubio’s long record of opposing LGBT rights is well established, returning to Orlando to lend his voice to these radical groups is an inexcusable insult.”

Rubio defended his scheduled appearance on Monday, blasting “liberal activists” for mischaracterizing the event.

"The event I will be speaking at in Orlando is a gathering of local pastors and faith leaders,” he said in a statement to the Orlando Sentinel. “Leave it to the media and liberal activists to label a gathering of faith leaders as an anti-LGBT event.”

Trump, the Republican Party's presidential nominee, has been working to solidify his support among evangelicals. On the campaign trail he has repeatedly vowed to repeal the Johnson Amendment that prohibits tax-exempt churches from touting political candidates.

“That’s a good first step,” David Lane, the American Renewal Project’s founder, told Bloomberg.

“But what about the religious liberty of Christian photographers, Christian bakers, Christian retreat centers, and pastors who believe same-sex intercourse and marriage is sin? These Christians were simply living out their deeply held convictions of their Christian faith when they politely refused to provide services for a same-sex wedding. Doesn’t the First Amendment give us all a right to our beliefs?”

“Homosexual totalitarianism is out of the closet, the militants are trying herd Christians there,” Lane added.