Following his much-anticipated confab with nearly 1,000 evangelical pastors and leaders, Republican candidate Donald Trump has released a long list of his born-again advisory board.
Not everyone on the board endorses Trump—but they’ve agreed to consult with him as he continues to reach out to an evangelical movement solidly split between the already on-board, the hesitant, and the decidedly #NeverTrump.
Some of the 25 figureheads on Trump’s board have relationships with him that go back several years. Some first connected at earlier campaign events targeting clergy. The breadth of his list serves as a reminder of the wide reach of American evangelicalism, from the institutional leaders in the Southern Baptist Convention to the prosperity gospel preachers made famous through Christian TV programming.
Below are brief explainers on each of the evangelicals who have signed on to influence the theology of Trump:
The Big Names
James Dobson, founder of Focus on the Family
Who he is: Dobson led national Christian ministry Focus on the Family from its founding in 1977 through 2003. He now hosts a radio program called My Family Talk. He also founded the Family Research Council, a Christian lobbying group currently led by Tony Perkins. Dobson, a pioneer Christian psychologist, has penned dozens of books about family life. His wife, Shirley, was the head of the National Day of Prayer Task Force until this year, when she handed over the reins to Anne Graham Lotz.
His evangelical ties: Dobson’s father, grandfather, and great-grandfather were all pastors in the Church of the Nazarene. Dobson and the organizations he launched are household names among American evangelicals, synonymous with “family values” stances. He has arguably been the most influential leader in the relatively leaderless evangelical movement, CT noted in 2005.
His beliefs and politics: Dobson endorsed Ted Cruz in December, saying the Texas senator had “the moral and spiritual foundations to lead our nation with excellence.” Dobson has criticized President Obama’s recent remarks regarding transgender bathroom access, his position on abortion, and the Obamacare contraception mandate. He has always made pro-life issues a priority, writing for The New York Times in 2006 that if neither major party nominates a pro-life candidate, family values voters would choose a third-party one. He wrote: “Winning the presidential election is vitally important, but not at the expense of what we hold most dear.”
His Trump ties: Dobson previously stated that after Rubio and Trump “announced they would accept the Supreme Court’s ruling on gay marriage, we knew we could not support them.”
Update: In an interview, Dodson said he had reason to believe Trump had recently accepted Christ. “I believe he really made a commitment, but he’s a baby Christian,” he said.
Jerry Falwell Jr., president of Liberty University
Who he is: Falwell Jr. is the oldest son of late Moral Majority founder Jerry Falwell. He succeeded his father as president and chancellor of Liberty University after Falwell Sr.’s death in 2007. Falwell Jr., a graduate of the University of Virginia law school, had previously worked as a lawyer and general counsel for the university and Falwell’s Old Time Gospel Hour program. Though Liberty continues to host political candidates at its weekly convocations, Falwell Jr. is comparatively less vocal, activist, and public-facing than his father.
His evangelical ties: Falwell Jr. carries one of the biggest family names in American evangelicalism, and has led the country’s biggest evangelical university through unprecedented growth. His brother Jonathan succeeded Falwell Sr. as pastor of Thomas Road Baptist, the 24,000-member Southern Baptist church located on campus. Falwell Jr. still occasionally involves himself with his father’s Religious Right networks; in 2010, he joined James Dobson, Richard Land, and John Hagee at a political rally organized by Glenn Beck.
His beliefs and politics: Falwell Jr. is a fiscal conservative and has criticized President Obama’s economic policies. He is also an advocate of the Second Amendment, allowing and encouraging students to carry guns on campus following last year’s attack in San Bernardino, California. Falwell Jr. endorsed Mitt Romney in 2012 and Mike Huckabee in 2007.
His Trump ties: Falwell Jr. was among the earliest evangelical leaders to endorse Trump, saying during the candidate’s campus address in January that the business mogul “lives a life of loving and helping others as Jesus taught in the Great Commandment.” He also said the Republican nominee “reminds me so much of my father,” who once advised Falwell Jr. that when he went into the voting booth, he was not electing a pastor, but a president. Falwell Jr. and Trump have been friendly since Trump’s convocation speech at Liberty in 2012, and Falwell Jr.’s son married at a Trump Winery about an hour from campus.
Richard Land, seminary president and Southern Baptist leader
Who he is: Land served as president of the Southern Baptist public policy arm, the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC) for 25 years, until he was succeeded by Russell Moore (a vocal Trump opponent). Land was named president of Southern Evangelical Seminary in 2013.
His evangelical ties: During his ERLC leadership, Land was considered the chief spokesman for Southern Baptists and, more than that, a culture warrior and “one of the few remaining scions of the Religious Right.” He stepped down from his position after making controversial remarks on his radio show regarding the shooting of Trayvon Martin.
His beliefs and politics: For most of his career, Land refrained from endorsing political candidates, but made an exception for Romney, who was running against Obama in 2012. The Texas native served nine years on the US Commission on International Religious Freedom, having been initially appointed to it by President George W. Bush.
His Trump ties: While his successor has deliberately warned followers against a “lesser of two evil mindset,” that’s not the approach Land is taking. “If we don't help the lesser evil prevail over the greater evil, we become responsible morally for helping the greater evil to prevail,” said Land, who predicts a close and ugly campaign. (Following the advisory board announcement, he explained his decision to join, though not endorse, Trump: “Is it not our spiritual obligation and responsibility to speak biblical truth in love to all who will listen?”)
Paula White, Florida preacher and televangelist
Who she is: Paula and her former husband Randy White founded Without Walls International, a Tampa megachurch which grew to 25,000 members over 15 years. In 2007, the couple separated as the church underwent a US Senate investigation. Later, White and televangelist and faith healer Benny Hinn admitted their friendship had turned inappropriate following her divorce, though White denied having an affair with Hinn. She is now married to former Journey musician Jonathan Cain and leads New Destiny Christian Center, a multi-ethnic congregation outside Orlando. Her popular TV show also draws in a racially diverse viewership, airing both on Trinity Broadcasting Network (TBN) and Black Entertainment Television (BET).
Her evangelical ties: White is among America’s most well-known prosperity gospel preachers. While 17 percent of American Christians openly identify with the movement, the “health and wealth” gospel gets dismissed and critiqued by most mainstream evangelical leaders. White admires fellow televangelist T. D. Jakes, whom she considers her mentor in the faith. She has appeared alongside leaders such as televangelist Kenneth Copeland, New York pastor Chris Durso, Lakewood worship leader Israel Houghton, and Jesus Culture singer Kim Walker-Smith.
Her beliefs and politics: Though White generally stays out of politics,, she was the one who coordinated September’s meeting between Trump and several televangelists, including TBN founder Jan Crouch, who died last month.
Her Trump ties: White says she and Trump have been friends for 15 years, and recounted giving him a letter from Billy Graham for his 60th birthday. At the meeting in Trump Tower last year, White cited Isaiah 54 in praying that “any tongue that rises against him will be condemned.” She also spoke at a 10,000-person rally in Florida, telling the crowd that Trump “needs to be our next president.”
Kenneth and Gloria Copeland, charismatic Texas ministers
Who they are: The Copelands have been in ministry for more than 45 years. Their daily television program, which is available on Christian networks and their website, has been broadcasting since 1989. Kenneth Copeland Ministries is headquartered in Fort Worth, Texas, where the couple’s “1,500-acre campus includes a $6 million church-owned lakefront mansion,” jets, TV and production studios, and a church building. Kenneth and Gloria Copeland were among the televangelists targeted in a 2007 Senate investigation, and more recently, the couple’s tax-free ministry status was mocked by Last Week Tonight host John Oliver.
Their evangelical ties: Kenneth is an Oral Roberts University alumnus. The Copelands are viewed mostly critically within evangelicalism as “health and wealth” televangelists. They are grouped with other ministers who fell under the 2007 investigation: Paula White, Benny Hinn, Eddie Long, Joyce Meyer, and Creflo Dollar.
Their beliefs and politics: In February, the Copelands hosted Ted Cruz’s father, pastor Rafael Cruz, and said that Cruz was “called and anointed” to be the next president. Their involvement with Mike Huckabee, who appeared on their show and hosted a fundraiser on their campus in 2007, fueled the Senate investigation into their ministry’s tax-exempt status. Following the investigation, they created the site Believers Stand United, which shares political and social news from an evangelical viewpoint. The Copelands encourage viewers to “stand together in faith” and stream a live broadcast on election night.
Their Trump ties: Along with Dallas pastor Robert Jeffress, as well as Paula White and other fellow televangelists, the Copelands prayed with Trump last September. Kenneth specifically asked that God give him “wisdom according to James 1 and God reveal himself to them.” A blog post on their ministry site indicated, “The Copelands’ attendance at this meeting does not mean that they are endorsing Trump. Brother Copeland is willing to pray with any candidate that asks for prayer, no matter what the party affiliation. This is according to 1 Timothy 2:1 and 2.”
Mark Burns, South Carolina pastor
Who he is: Burns pastors Harvest Praise and Worship Center in South Carolina. The church appears to be a relatively small congregation, with about a dozen worshipers in attendance each week. Burns’ one-year-old regional television network expands his reach. He also runs a prayer hotline.
His evangelical ties: Before stumping for Trump, Burns was not a well-known figure among most evangelicals, though he had ties to often-criticized names in the prosperity gospel world. He appeared at ministry events alongside Eddie Long, the Atlanta-area preacher who was sued over an alleged Ponzi scheme. He also is connected with Mike Murdock, a Texas televangelist known for “seed covenants,” where he encourages viewers to send donations and wait for the “harvest.”
His beliefs and politics: Burns, who identifies as pro-life and supports a “Christian America,” rallied for Trump starting in the primaries—defending in particular the candidate’s position among Christians and African Americans. He opposed Ted Cruz. In previous elections, the South Carolinian said he voted for Barack Obama and Bill Clinton.
His Trump ties: Burns was among the pastors and televangelists invited to meet with Trump in September. He left New York compelled by Trump’s faith and commitment to protect Christian religious freedoms. Since then, Burns has regularly appeared on TV in support of Trump, whose appearances, positions, and affiliations fill his social media feeds.
James Robison, founder of LIFE Outreach International
Who he is: Robison spent much of his childhood living with his mother in extreme poverty; as an adult, he founded LIFE Outreach International, which provides for the homeless and needy. Robison is also an evangelist and co-hosts LIFE Today, a daily television program, with his wife Betty.
His evangelical ties: On his television show, Robison has hosted prominent evangelicals such as Beth Moore, Steven Curtis Chapman, Tony Evans, Robert Jeffress, Philip Yancey, Ravi Zacharias, and Max Lucado.
His beliefs and politics: In the 1980s, Robison was politically active, and his name is often connected with Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson. At one point, he organized a rally of 10,000 to fire up Christians to take back the nation. (Mike Huckabee, who was his communications director, said that was the start of the Moral Majority.) Robison withdrew from political life in the 1980s, but didn’t disappear completely. He organized the rally where Ronald Reagan told 2,500 pastors that “I know you can’t endorse me, but I want you to know that I endorse you.” In 1999, George W. Bush phoned Robison to let him know when he felt God calling him to run for president. In 2010, Robison called a meeting with Richard Land, Tony Perkins, and about 40 other conservative leaders to discuss how to replace Barack Obama. And over the past few years, Robison has written weekly commentaries on American culture and politics.
His Trump ties: Robison has not endorsed Trump. In March, he said that he hoped Christian leaders who are close to Trump would lead him to a “road to Damascus experience” so the world could see God change someone “who so obviously needs changing.” Robison also wrote that Trump should pick Ted Cruz as his vice president.
The Southern Baptists
Ronnie Floyd, former president of the Southern Baptist Convention
Who he is: Floyd has pastored the multisite Cross Church in northwest Arkansas for 30 years, and served as president of the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC), the largest Protestant denomination in the country, from 2014 to 2016. (The SBC elected a new president last week.)
His evangelical ties: Floyd was nominated for the SBC presidency by Al Mohler, president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and one of the most prominent voices in the denomination. The Duggars, of 19 Kids and Counting, once were regular attendees at Floyd’s Arkansas church. He also hosts a weekly summit for Christian business leaders; guest speakers have included Mike Huckabee, author and speaker John Maxwell, Tyson Food CEO John Tyson, and Chick-fil-A’s Truett Cathy.
His beliefs and politics: In the 1980s, Floyd was part of a conservative movement to curb liberal politics within the SBC in Arkansas, and Huckabee beat him in a race to lead the state convention, The New York Timesreported. Floyd endorsed Huckabee decades later, during his 2007 run for president. As SBC president over the past two years, Floyd continued denominational efforts toward racial reconciliation. He has called on the US government to do more to combat the ISIS genocide against Christians in the Middle East, and endorsed the evangelical statement affirming biblical marriage following last year’s Supreme Court decision.
His Trump ties: Last month, Floyd wrote for Fox News about his decision to meet with Trump, though at the time he said he had no intention of endorsing him—or any candidate—in this election. He raised concerns about the GOP candidate’s remarks on women, immigrants, and minorities, and went on to say that “there is too much at stake before us” to abstain from voting altogether.
Robert Jeffress, author and Texas megachurch pastor
Who he is: Jeffress is pastor of First Baptist Church of Dallas. He has made more than 2,000 guest appearances in the media, and he regularly appears alongside Sean Hannity and others as a contributor on Fox News. Under his outspoken leadership, First Baptist has grown to more than 11,000 members and expanded its downtown campus with a $130-million building project. Jeffress is the author of 23 books and the host of the Pathway to Victory show.
His evangelical ties: First Baptist is a historic congregation in Texas, founded nearly 150 years ago, and Jeffress follows former lead pastors George Truett and W. A. Criswell, both prominent Southern Baptists. He is an alum of Baylor University and an adjunct professor at Dallas Theological Seminary.
His beliefs and politics: Jeffress has made strong statements against Islam and homosexuality (“represents a degradation of a person’s mind”), causing NFL quarterback Tim Tebow to cancel his appearance at Jeffress’ church. He endorsed former Texas Governor Rick Perry in 2011, prompting Americans United for the Separation of Church and State to ask the IRS for an investigation into the tax-exempt status of Jeffress’ church. Mike Huckabee wrote the foreword to Jeffress’ 2012 book Twilight’s Last Gleaming.
His Trump ties: Jeffress prayed with Trump during the gathering of Christian leaders at Trump Towers in September. He stopped just short of endorsing Trump in January, introducing him at several rallies and stating that “any Christian who would sit at home and not vote for the Republican nominee … is being motivated by pride rather than principle.”
David Jeremiah, author, pastor, and televangelist
Who he is: Jeremiah is the senior pastor at Shadow Mountain Community Church, a 105-year-old Southern Baptist congregation in California, where he succeeded best-selling author Tim LaHaye. Jeremiah is also the founder of Turning Point Radio and Television ministries. His more than 50 books books include Captured by Grace, What in the World is Going On?, and The Coming Economic Armageddon.
His evangelical ties: Jeremiah often speaks at Cedarville College (where his father was once president), Dallas Theological Seminary, Moody Bible Institute, and the Billy Graham Training Center. He is frequently asked to speak at chapels for professional athletes. (His son works for the National Football League.) He was listed among the Top 10 people who influence pastors in a 2010 LifeWay Research poll.
His beliefs and politics: Jeremiah spoke out on politics for the first time in 2012, urging support for Mitt Romney and arguing that it was crucial for Christians to vote based not on their political party, but on their beliefs. Jeremiah opposes abortion and signed the evangelical declaration on marriage after the Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage last summer.
His Trump ties: Jeremiah was one of about 40 religious leaders who prayed with Trump in September, and asked God to send Trump “a strong African-American who can stand with him and represent that community.” Jeremiah said at the time he had not officially endorsed any candidate. Trump also attended a rally for the Bible that Jeremiah hosted in 2013.
Jack Graham, Texas pastor and evangelist
Who he is: Graham leads the 40,000-person Prestonwood Baptist Church in Plano, Texas, and runs PowerPoint Ministries, which broadcasts his teachings on Christian TV and radio. He served as president of the Southern Baptist Convention from 2002 to 2004.
His evangelical ties: Graham served as the honorary chairman of the 2015 National Day of Prayer. His close personal friend is O. S. Hawkins, president of GuideStone Financial, which runs the largest Christian mutual fund in the world. Last year, Graham hosted the North Texas Presidential Forum, which included all the leading GOP candidates except for Trump; the event was sponsored by Ralph Reed’s Faith and Freedom Coalition.
His beliefs and politics: Graham prayed with George W. Bush—a fellow Texan—several times in the White House during the early years of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, he told Baptist Press. In previous elections, he has encouraged Christians to vote based on family values over economics. He endorsed Mike Huckabee in 2006.
His Trump ties: When San Antonio pastor and author Max Lucado broke his political silence in February to criticize the tone of Trump’s campaign, Graham tweeted, “I couldn’t agree more.” (Following this week’s meeting, Graham shifted to say he’s ready to endorse Trump: “I am convinced he is going to make a great president of the United States.”)
James MacDonald, Chicago megachurch pastor
Who he is: MacDonald leads the 13,000-member Harvest Bible Chapel in the Chicago suburbs. In the past 15 years, the congregation has planted 150 new churches through Harvest Bible Fellowship. MacDonald hosts men’s conferences and broadcasts Bible teachings through a program called Walk in the Word.
His evangelical ties: MacDonald joined the Southern Baptist Convention last year. He associates with a Reformed-leaning crowd—pastors like Acts 29 president Matt Chandler, Philadelphia pastor Eric Mason, and Moody Chapel’s Erwin Lutzer. He’s also friends with Christian publishing veteran Robert Wolgemuth, radio host Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth, and child star-turned-evangelist Kirk Cameron. MacDonald was an advisory board member for Mark Driscoll’s Mars Hill church, but stepped down a few months before Driscoll’s resignation and the church’s closure in 2014. A couple years before, he left The Gospel Coalition over “methodological differences.”
His beliefs and politics: MacDonald has called on his congregation to pray for President Obama and urged the president to speak more directly to Islam’s relationship to ISIS terror. He spoke at a caucus event for Ben Carson, but did not officially endorse him.
His Trump ties: MacDonald said that as a pastor, he does not endorse candidates, but found Jerry Falwell Jr.’s initial remarks on Trump compelling. He attended Tuesday’s Christian gathering and shared a picture of himself alongside Calvary Chapel pastor Greg Laurie and Prestonwood Baptist’s Jack Graham, another member of the advisory board. “Loved the way the gospel and concerns of Christ followers were spoken to him and how he listened,” MacDonald said after Tuesday’s meeting.
Jay Strack, student ministry leader
Who he is:Strack regularly speaks about leadership, character, and transformation in Christ at Southern Baptist churches and colleges across Florida. He’s an ordained Southern Baptist minister and former president of the Conference of Southern Baptist Evangelists, a group with about 100 members. Strack is also the founder and president of Student Leadership University (SLU), which puts on faith-based programs to train high school and college-aged Christians in Orlando, San Antonio, and other major cities.
Evangelical affiliations: Strack is friends with popular business consultant John Maxwell, and they have spoken at events together. SLU programs bring in a younger generation of popular evangelical speakers, including Catalyst founder Brad Lomenick, evangelist D. A. Horton, and spoken-word poet Amena Brown.
His beliefs and politics: Strack supports Israel and has traveled there nearly 100 times. He has spoken against abortion and critiqued the budget under President Obama. Strack previously endorsed Mike Huckabee.
His Trump ties: He has said little publicly about Trump. In January, he tweeted, “Let's vote for someone who can win. ‘A leader has followers if not, you're just a man or woman taking a walk.’ John Maxwell.”
The Republican Heavyweights
Michele Bachmann, Republican politician
Who she is:Bachmann was Minnesota’s first female Congresswoman, and ran for the Republican presidential nomination in 2012, dropping out six months into the race. She spent eight years in the US House of Representatives and seven years in the Minnesota state senate.
Her evangelical ties: An Oral Roberts University alum, Bachmann left her Confessional Lutheran church prior to her presidential run to attend an Evangelical Free Church of America congregation. Her husband runs a Christian counseling practice. She traveled to Israel with Tony Perkins, head of the vocal Family Research Council. She participated in a patriotic religious freedom event with David Barton, a controversial evangelical historian who had served as one of her advisors.
Her beliefs and politics: Bachmann identified with the Tea Party movement within the Republican party. She cites as inspiration Francis Schaeffer, the theologian whose book Whatever Happened to the Human Race? spurred pro-lifers in the 1980s. She was endorsed by the pro-life Susan B. Anthony List. Earlier this year, Bachmann said the current conflict in the Middle East “lines up with Scripture” and end-times prophecy.
Her Trump ties: When asked about the 2016 race in January, she said she disagreed with Sarah Palin’s Trump endorsement and, instead of picking one of the other candidates, jokingly endorsed the late Ronald Reagan. In March, she championed Mitt Romney’s critique of Trump. This week, she tweeted from his meeting with Christian leaders, “Trump was forthright, said he would support pro-life judges. Respectful, and warmly received.”
Ralph Reed, founder of the Faith and Freedom Coalition
Who he is: Reed made a name for himself as the director of the Christian Coalition for most of the 1990s, his efforts earning him a spot on the cover of Time magazine at age 33. He left the organization to start a successful political consulting firm, advising George W. Bush’s election and re-election campaigns. However, he lost his own 2006 race for Georgia lieutenant governor due to his ties to lobbyist Jack Abramoff. He re-entered national politics by launching the Faith and Freedom Coalition in 2009.
His evangelical ties: 700 Club televangelist Pat Robertson appointed Reed to lead the Christian Coalition. His Faith and Freedom Coalition was also featured on Robertson’s Christian Broadcasting Network, where David Brody called it “the Christian Coalition on steroids.” The group’s events have featured Mitt Romney, Rick Santorum, Rick Perry, Herman Cain, Michele Bachmann, Newt Gingrich, Paul Ryan, Jim Bob Duggar, and Ben Carson. Two years ago, Reed predicted evangelicals’ demand for a bold outsider with a magnetic personality in an op-ed coauthored by evangelical communications strategist Joel C. Rosenberg and Concerned Women for America CEO Penny Nance. Nance recently decided to vote for Trump.
His beliefs and politics: Reed is a longtime Republican. He began serving with the University of Georgia College Republicans and rose up to serve as a party leader at the state level before his involvement in the Bush-Cheney campaigns. He came to faith after college at an Assemblies of God church in the Washington, D.C., area. He is vocally pro-Israel and advocated for recent religious liberty legislation in his home state of Georgia. Both Reed and his coalition support immigration reform.
His Trump ties: Reed praised Trump’s decision to identify as pro-life in 2011, and later that year, Trump spoke at the Faith and Freedom Coalition’s Road to Morality event. Trump also gave remarks at this month’s conference—the first presidential candidate ever scheduled to do so. Reed did not endorse any candidate during the GOP primaries, but now is planning major get-out-the-vote efforts for Trump. He has appeared on several political news programs to defend and explain Trump’s appeal.
The Megachurch Pastors
A. R. Bernard, pastor of New York’s biggest megachurch
Who he is: Bernard serves as lead pastor at the Christian Cultural Center, a megachurch in Brooklyn, and is the well-connected president of New York City’s Council of Churches. The born-again banker left the finance industry for ministry in the late 1970s. His church, renamed the Christian Cultural Center in 2000, boasts 30,000 members. Once a spiritual seeker and member of the Nation of Islam, Bernard went on to criticize its theology, but continues to focus on issues faced by African Americans and Hispanics in the inner city. (Bernard himself is Panamanian-American.) He recently released a relationship book called Four Things Women Want from a Man.
His evangelical ties: The prominent pastor came to faith through the ministry of gang member turned evangelist Nicky Cruz; Bernard’s testimony was featured in a 1996 issue of Charisma magazine. He was ordained in the Church of God in Christ, a prominently African American Pentecostal denomination. Bernard has developed relationships with African American Christian celebrities, including Denzel Washington (who considers Bernard his pastor), Will Smith, and Good Morning America’s Robin Roberts. He is friends with Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson Jr., despite differences in politics.
His beliefs and politics: Bernard has repeatedly appeared on lists of the most influential people in New York and considered a mayoral run as a Republican in 2013, after having endorsed and worked with former mayor Michael Bloomberg. Last month, he criticized prosperity preaching and Trump’s faith.
His Trump ties: A New York Daily News columnist quoted Bernard as saying, “Mr. Trump asked me to be on an advisory board of clergy. I told him I’d be open to it, by that it did not mean an endorsement.” The column indicated Bernard was friends with both Trump, who he called “an opportunist,” and his opponent Hillary Clinton.
Robert Morris, author and Texas megachurch pastor
Who he is: Morris is the founder and senior pastor at Gateway Church in Texas, where award-winning singer-songwriter Kari Jobe is a worship pastor. He is the author of 14 books, including The Blessed Life and The Blessed Church, and is featured on the church’s weekly television program The Blessed Life.
His evangelical ties: Morris is on the board at The King’s University, oversees Brady Boyd’s New Life Church in Colorado Springs (where six people were shot in 2007), and is on the board of Mark Driscoll’s new Trinity Church in Arizona.
His beliefs and politics: Gateway Church created the Vote Under God website in 2016, which encourages Christians to vote. Gateway is aiming for 100 percent voter participation among its 36,000 members this fall. Morris identifies the definition of marriage, the right to life, government vs. private health care, the national debt, and religious freedoms as key issues.
His Trump ties: Morris has no previous public comments on Trump.
Jentezen Franklin, pastor and author
Who he is: Franklin is the senior pastor of Free Chapel, a church with locations in Georgia and California. His Southern-accented sermons can be viewed on Kingdom Connection, airing nationally through Trinity Broadcasting Network. He is also the author of several books on faith and fasting.
His evangelical ties: Free Chapel is part of the Church of God, a Pentecostal denomination with 7 million members globally. The church hosts an annual conference, Forward, which has featured popular evangelical speakers and musicians: Louie Giglio, Christine Caine, Judah Smith, Steven Furtick, Chris Tomlin, Israel Houghton, Toby Mac, and more. Franklin has spoken at Joel Osteen’s Lakewood Church, as well as Rich Wilkerson Jr.’s Vous Church.
His beliefs and politics: During the previous presidential election, Franklin declared himself pro-life, pro-traditional marriage, and pro-Israel. Now he says “he sees his peers with large media ministries speaking out for the first time politically,” according to Time magazine. Ben Carson offered a message at Free Chapel last year.
His Trump ties: He was “honored” to meet Trump at Paula White’s gathering in September and asked his followers to pray for Trump.
Harry Jackson, Maryland pastor
Who he is: Jackson, senior pastor at Hope Christian Church in Maryland, is the presiding bishop of the International Communion of Evangelical Churches (ICEC) and host of the radio show The Truth in Black and White. He founded the High Impact Leadership Coalition, which promotes families, education, health care, and wealth.
His evangelical ties: Jackson’s fellow leaders of ICEC are Joseph Mattera, Eugene Reeves, J. Alan Neal, Larry Palmer, Aubrey Shines, and Kyle Searcy. He is also involved in church efforts toward racial reconciliation. The book he co-authored with George Barna, High Impact African American Churches, received the 2005 Silver Medallion award from the Evangelical Christian Publishers Association.
His beliefs and politics: Jackson is opposed to abortion and same-sex marriage. He filed a lawsuit against the District of Columbia after the elections board refused a ballot initiative on same-sex marriage, and when denied, followed it all the way up to the US Supreme Court (which also denied it). In previous presidential elections, he supported George W. Bush and John McCain. He formerly belonged to Ted Cruz’s advisory board.
His Trump ties: Jackson met with Trump in December, along with 100 other faith leaders. In May, Jackson wrote that Trump’s “large personality—with some careful tweaking—could resonate with some. But it is a longshot at best, and it will not happen without much more careful advice than he has been getting so far.”
“Coach” Tom Mullins, pastor
Who he is: Mullins is the founding pastor at Christ Fellowship Church in Florida, where John Maxwell is a teaching pastor. Mullins also co-founded Place of Hope, a residential home for abused and neglected children. He is the president of EQUIP, which aims to resource church leaders. Before becoming a pastor, Mullins was a high school and college football coach and athletic director.
His evangelical ties: Mullins appeared with fellow evangelical leaders, including Jim Garlow, John Hagee, and Ralph Reed, on Glenn Beck’s show in 2010. He has also been involved with Campus Crusade for Christ and is on the lead team of the church-planting network Association of Related Churches.
His beliefs and politics: Mullins supports the United States’ relationship with Israel and signed the letter in defense of traditional marriage after the Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage last summer.
His Trump ties: Mullins has no previous public comments on Trump.
The Evangelicals Behind the Scenes
Johnnie Moore, evangelical advisor
Who he is: If there’s a major project or campaign aimed at the evangelical community, odds are, Johnnie Moore has been involved with it—and that includes the My Faith Votes event, which brought 900 evangelical leaders to New York hear from Trump earlier this week. As founder and president of consultant firm The Kairos Company, Moore also manages communication strategy for the forthcoming Museum of the Bible in Washington DC and for several evangelical leaders. He previously worked as chief-of-staff for TV producers Mark Burnett and Roma Downey—responsible for The Bible and A.D.: The Bible Continues (as well as The Voice and Survivor).
His evangelical ties: Moore got his start as vice president of his alma mater, Liberty University, and was appointed to the position while he was still in his 20s by Moral Majority founder Jerry Falwell himself. His Kairos clientele includes the World Evangelical Alliance, Saddleback Church, and the Christian Broadcasting Network, as well as Ronnie Floyd and David Jeremiah, both fellow members of Trump’s advisory board.
His beliefs and politics: The author of Defying ISIS and advocate for the persecuted church, Moore has been following the situation in Iraq and Syria in particular (and traveling to the region) long before ISIS made national headlines. As a commentator on conservative news programs, he reminds viewers that this persecution of Christians is “definitely targeted, is definitely significant, and has been happening a long time.” Ben Carson appointed Moore as his special faith advisor for the campaign.
His Trump ties: Moore was VP at Liberty during Trump’s convocation in 2011 and echoed the mogul’s controversial advice that students should “get even” with adversaries. During each of the Republican candidate debates, Moore praised Trump’s performance. He helped organize the My Faith Votes event and told the Christian Post, “The Trump campaign has been unbelievably cooperative to commit such time with these leaders … It is the largest, most representative gathering of national, Christian leaders I've seen in my lifetime.”
Sealy Yates, attorney, literary agent, and president of My Faith Votes
Who he is: Yates is an attorney at Yates & Yates, a law firm that represents Christian authors. The first literary agent in Christian publishing, Yates helped to launch the Evangelical Christian Publishers Association. Last year, he founded My Faith Votes, a $5 million effort to encourage Christians—especially those who stayed home in 2012—to vote in 2016. Ben Carson agreed to be the national chairman of My Faith Votes the same day he ended his presidential campaign.
His evangelical ties: Yates was the founding chairman of Open Doors and has served on the board for Open Doors International, Insight for Living, Turning Point Ministries, and Ransomed Heart Ministries. Yates has represented dozens of high-profile Christian authors, including Chuck Swindoll, David Platt, Mark Driscoll, David Jeremiah, and Carson.
His beliefs and politics: My Faith Votes is Yates’ first step into the political arena. The non-partisan organization, with Yates as president, has not officially endorsed anyone, but aims to “motivate believers to act on their faith by casting an informed vote based on a biblical worldview.”
His Trump ties: My Faith Votes national chair Carson endorsed Trump in March, and My Faith Votes hosted the discussion between Trump and religious leaders in New York City this week. "We wish to talk with specificity to Donald Trump about issues of faith and the role of faith in the civic arena,” Yates said of the meeting. “And, we wish to assure him of our prayers for his family and him.”
Tom Winters, attorney
Who he is: Winters is a founding member of his Oklahoma law firm, Winters & King, which represents nonprofits including churches, ministries, and charities. Like Yates, Winters is also a literary agent.
His evangelical ties: Winters received his bachelor’s degree and juris doctorate from Oral Roberts University. He represents Christian authors such as T. D. Jakes, Tammy Faye Baker, Joyce Meyer, and Joel Osteen.
His beliefs and politics: Winters has not previously made public statements on his beliefs or political affiliations.
His Trump ties: This is Winters’ first public affiliation with Trump.
Tim Clinton, national leader in Christian counseling
Who he is: A professional counselor and a licensed marriage and family therapist, Clinton is president of the American Association of Christian Counselors, a 50,000-member group. He interviews Christian authors and leaders on his weekly radio programLife, Love, and Family. An avid sports fan, Clinton also founded Ignite (previously called Wildfire), a Christian men’s event featuring “athletes, outdoorsmen, and Bible teachers” from Drew Brees and Tim Tebow to the Duck Dynasty brothers.
His evangelical ties: Clinton directs the Center for Counseling and Family Studies at Liberty University, his alma mater. He has partnered with Focus on the Family, Compassion International, and Logos Bible Software, and has spoken at mental health events with Frank Page, Warren Kinghorn, Ed Stetzer, and others. Evangelical leaders such as Tim LaHaye and Larry Crabb have endorsed his work.
His beliefs and politics: As a counselor, Clinton advocates for greater mental health awareness among Christians and addresses pornography as an epidemic hurting marital intimacy.
His Trump ties: Clinton has shared posts from Ben Carson and Liberty president Jerry Falwell Jr. congratulating Trump on becoming the presumptive Republican nominee. Timereported that Paula White recruited Clinton to help Trump finalize his faith advisor list.
Tony Suarez, executive vice president of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference (NHCLC)
Who he is: Before joining the NHCLC, Suarez was the pastor of The Pentecostals of Norfolk church in Virginia, which he founded with his wife Jessica in 2007. He is also the host of Faith Alive on Trinity Broadcasting Network’s Salsa network.
His evangelical ties: Suarez works with prominent evangelical leader Samuel Rodriguez at the NHCLC. In May, Suarez met with Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission president Russell Moore and pastor Jim Garlow to talk with House speaker Paul Ryan about religious liberty and policy direction for the Republican party. In 2016, he was named to the Top 100 Leaders list by the John Maxwell Group. He serves as a board member of the Evangelical Immigration Table, among others.
His beliefs and politics: Suarez meets often with members of Congress on behalf of the NHCLC. In February, he endorsed Marco Rubio for president. He supports Obama’s executive action granting temporary legal status to millions of illegal immigrants and the expansion of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.
His Trump ties: In November, Suarez wrote on his Facebook that “the only thing more embarrassing than [Trump’s] campaign is watching preachers support Trump.”
By comparison, here are the religious advisory boards appointed by former candidates Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz, which represent other cross-sections of American evangelicals:
Carlos Campo, Ashland University president
Vincent Bacote, Wheaton University theology professor
Kyle Duncan, former general counsel of the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty and lead counsel in the Hobby Lobby case
Tom Farr, Religious Freedom Project at Georgetown University
Kellie Fiedorek, Alliance Defending Freedom
Wayne Grudem, Phoenix Seminary
Chad Hatfield, St. Vladimir’s Orthodox Seminary chancellor
Thomas Kidd, Baylor University professor
Daniel Mark, United States Commission on International Religious Freedom
Michael McConnell, Stanford University Law School
Doug Napier, Alliance Defending Freedom
Samuel Rodriguez, National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference president
Meir Soloveichik, Yeshiva University
Rick Warren, Saddleback Church
Thomas White, Cedarville University president
Tony Perkins, Family Research Council president (chair)
Ryan Anderson, Ph.D., Heritage Foundation fellow
Tony Beam, North Greenville University vice president
David Benham, entrepreneur
Jason Benham, entrepreneur
Ken Blackwell, former US Ambassador to the UN for Human Rights
Teresa S. Collett, University of St. Thomas professor
Jim Garlow, Skyline Church in San Diego, California
Mark Harris, First Baptist Church in Charlotte, North Carolina
Jack Hibbs, Calvary Chapel Chino Hills, California
Harry Jackson, International Communion of Evangelical Churches
Richard Lee, There’s Hope America president
Paige Patterson, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary president
Everett Piper, Oklahoma Wesleyan University president
Jay Richards, The Catholic University of America economics professor
Dr. Steve Riggle, Grace Community Church in Houston
Samuel Rodriguez, National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference president
Kelly Shackelford, First Liberty Institute president
Carol Swain, Vanderbilt University professor
With reporting by Morgan Lee.
Subscribe to Christianity Today and get access to this article plus 65+ years of archives.
- Home delivery of CT magazine
- Complete access to articles on ChristianityToday.com
- Over 120 years of magazine archives plus full access to all of CT’s online archives
- Learn more
Read These Next
- TrendingEvangelicals Are the Most Beloved US Faith Group Among EvangelicalsAnd among the worst-rated by everybody else.
- From the MagazineBhutanese Nepali Refugees Turn Their Trials into Zeal for EvangelismThousands found Jesus while displaced, which prepared them to plant churches and settle in a new land.
- RelatedBeth Moore: When I Was a Stranger in the SBC, Anglicans Welcomed MeHow the acclaimed Bible teacher found a new church home.
- Editor's PickChristians from Myanmar Call for the Release of Jailed Baptist LeaderHkalam Samson, former head of the Kachin Baptist Convention, was internationally known for his advocacy