Nonetheless, Billy Graham was never a champion of civil rights and southern whites who had gone to the wall to preserve the Jim Crow South were his natural constituency. The evangelical movement, like the Republican Party of the Reagan era, was shaped by southern white resentment. Jews were suspect because they had backed the civil rights movement, had cooled to the Vietnam war, and insisted on the strict separation of church and state. Although few were crude enough to say so in public, Liberals, African Americans and Jews formed a kind of unholy trinity to which white evangelicalism was ideologically opposed. For some, this was a matter of crude bigotry, but for most the antipathy wasn’t personal. These folks just happened to be on the wrong side of a struggle for the heart and soul of America.
Alternatively, Mormons like Mitt Romney are gradually being embraced by American evangelicalism because they are on the right side of the liberal-conservative fight. The rapprochement is far from total. At the Baptist Leadership Training School I attended in 1972, we were taught that the Mormon Church was a cult. Simple as that.
Now it’s not so simple. Evangelicals disagree with Catholics and Mormons on a wide range of theological issues, but in the twenty-first century, ideology trumps theology. Conservative Catholics pass muster so long as their concern for the poor takes a back seat to their pro-life principles.