Last week I wrote about Marco Rubio’s new religious liberty advisory committee. In that post I argued that the make-up of the committee suggests Rubio’s attempt to appeal to mainstream evangelicals. I compared these evangelicals with those evangelicals who support the Ted Cruz and Donald Trump candidacies.
Russell Moore, president of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, said Trump, Cruz and Rubio are appealing to disparate camps of evangelicals.
“I would say that Ted Cruz is leading in the ‘Jerry Falwell’ wing, Marco Rubio is leading the ‘Billy Graham’ wing and Trump is leading the ‘Jimmy Swaggart’ wing,” Moore said, meaning that Cruz has largely followed the classic Moral Majority model that was the face of the conservative movement — he has received endorsements from figures such as Focus on the Family founder James Dobson — while Trump “tends to work most closely with the prosperity wing of Pentecostalism” which tends to believe that God would financially reward believers.
I chose to use the adjective “mainstream” to describe the Billy Graham wing of evangelicalism. This wing of evangelicalism, which I would associate with Christianity Today, Graham, Wheaton College, Moody Bible Institute, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, Campus Crusade for Christ (now called “Cru”) and InterVarsity Christian Fellowship, is the kind of evangelicalism that I am familiar with because it is the evangelicalism that I joined as a teenager in the 1980s.
But after thinking a bit more, I wonder if this wing of evangelicalism is still “mainstream?” Perhaps Moore’s “Falwell” wing or Trump’s “prosperity” wing may now be more mainstream.