Earlier this evening I wrote a post on James Dobson‘s claim that Donald Trump has become a born-again Christian. Dobson’s news comes in the wake of Trump’s meeting on Tuesday with evangelicals. Shortly after that meeting the Trump campaign announced that it has established an Evangelical Executive Advisory Board. Apparently this board will eventually lead a larger, yet-to-be-established, “Faith and Cultural Advisory Committee.”
Here are the members of the committee:
- Michele Bachmann – Former Congresswoman
- A.R. Bernard – Senior Pastor and CEO, Christian Cultural Center
- Mark Burns – Pastor, Harvest Praise and Worship Center
- Tim Clinton – President, American Association of Christian Counselors
- Kenneth and Gloria Copeland – Founders, Kenneth Copeland Ministries
- James Dobson – Author, Psychologist and Host, My Family Talk
- Jerry Falwell, Jr. – President, Liberty University
- Ronnie Floyd – Senior Pastor, Cross Church
- Jentezen Franklin – Senior Pastor, Free Chapel
- Jack Graham – Senior Pastor, Prestonwood Baptist Church
- Harry Jackson – Senior Pastor, Hope Christian Church
- Robert Jeffress – Senior Pastor, First Baptist Church of Dallas
- David Jeremiah – Senior Pastor, Shadow Mountain Community Church
- Richard Land – President, Southern Evangelical Seminary
- James MacDonald – Founder and Senior Pastor, Harvest Bible Chapel
- Johnnie Moore – Author, President of The KAIROS Company
- Robert Morris – Senior Pastor, Gateway Church
- Tom Mullins – Senior Pastor, Christ Fellowship
- Ralph Reed – Founder, Faith and Freedom Coalition
- James Robison – Founder, Life OUTREACH International
- Tony Suarez – Executive Vice President, National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference
- Jay Strack – President, Student Leadership University
- Paula White – Senior Pastor, New Destiny Christian Center
- Tom Winters – Attorney, Winters and King, Inc.
- Sealy Yates – Attorney, Yates and Yates
The best analysis of this group can be found at Christianity Today. I encourage you to read its post. It is excellent. (I am also encouraged to see that one of my former students, Morgan Lee, contributed to the piece).
I am not familiar with all of the people on Trump’s committee, but I do think it is fair to say that it is dominated by two types of evangelicals.
Some of the members of the committee are operating with the 1980s and 1990s playbook of the Christian Right. As I wrote earlier today, this is “an approach that assumes that the United States was once a ‘Christian nation‘ (although that phrase now seems to be replaced with the mantra of “religious liberty”) and the only way to save it from falling into the abyss is to cozy up to national politicians.” These are veterans of the culture war who long for the glory days of the Reagan era. Most of them remember the 1990s and thus really do not like Hillary Clinton
The evangelicals on Trump’s committee who represent this group include: Michelle Bachman, James Dobson, Jerry Falwell Jr., Ronnie Floyd, Jack Graham, Robert Jeffress, David Jeremiah, Richard Land, and Ralph Reed. (Christianity Today notes that there is a Southern Baptist subset in this group that includes Floyd, Jeffress, Land, and others). These folks are mostly white males. According to my rough estimate, they average just over 64 years of age.
I will call the other major group the charismatic/faith-healing/prosperity/entrepreneurial wing of American evangelicalism. The evangelicals on Trump’s committee who represent this group include John Mark Burns, Kenneth Copeland, Gloria Copeland, Robert Morris, James Robison, Jay Strack, and Paula White. This group is only slightly younger and slightly more diverse in terms of race and gender. This groups is eclectic, but many of them are probably attracted to Trump’s business acumen and wealth.
If you read this blog you know what I think about the practice of evangelical leaders cozying up to political power.
Let’s also remember that these evangelicals only represent a some American evangelicals.