Michele Bachmann has been appointed to Donald Trump’s evangelical executive advisory board to lead a larger “Faith and Cultural Advisory Committee” after speaking at a meeting of more than 1,000 evangelicals and Catholics on Tuesday. But could that be a good thing? It is if Trump wants to get the votes from far-right Republicans (ok, so that’s an inside joke).
There’s a complete list of who’s who of conservative Christian leaders that made the board, Bachmann being named one of them. But the list also hints at the very real tensions over Donald Trump among conservative evangelicals. Richard Land was the head of the Southern Baptist Convention’s political organization, the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, until 2013, when he was pushed out over remarks he made about Trayvon Martin’s death. His successor, Russell Moore, has been a vocal opponent of Trump’s, and he was not at the Tuesday meeting in New York.
Given the strong position Moore has taken against Trump, Land’s appointment seems like a snub. Similarly, Tony Suarez, another member of Trump’s board, is the executive vice president of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference. The president of the NHCLC, Samuel Rodriguez, has said he is “very opposed to his rhetoric on most issues … At the top of the list, his rhetoric on immigrants, on immigration, is unacceptable.”
Surprisingly, three women made the cut on the list of 25 names: Paula White, the pastor at New Destiny Christian Center in Florida; Michele Bachmann, the former congresswoman; and Gloria Copeland, who’s listed with her husband as the founder of Kenneth Copeland Ministries.
The members on the list are white mega-church pastors, at least most of them, although four men of color were included. A couple of lawyers and the head of the American Association of Christian Counselors have also been appointed. One-third of the board members run churches or organizations that have campuses in Texas or California.
Trump’s camp is nearly penniless; it posted dismal fundraising numbers earlier this week. The republican hopeful has continued his roll of off-the-cuff remarks about everyone from Muslims to Mexicans, and he fired his controversial campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski, on Monday. Bringing on a crew of conservative evangelical advisors is a totally by-the-book play for what has so far been a totally unconventional campaign.
While Michele Bachmann made the list, the next round of faith leaders he brings on is sure to be less predictable-who’s going to represent Muslims on his faith advisory committee, for example? But while Trump is trying to follow in the path of the Republican politicians who allied with conservative Christians for decades, it’s still not clear that he’s going to win those voters.