Now, that tense stand-off seems like a lifetime ago. Jack Graham was one of the pastors who signed onto the ERLC’s “coalition” letter in support of Kavanaugh, along with Ronnie Floyd, another Trump adviser and former Southern Baptist Convention president. “I was glad to do it, because it shows the unity … around something very important to all of us,” Graham told me. “I am really glad that Russell Moore … circled back on this. He has not been vocally supportive of the president, and I’m hoping this is an indicator that he’s going to be more supportive.” Over the past 18 months, Graham has visited the White House a number of times, offering prayers during events in the Rose Garden and dining with Trump along with other evangelical leaders. “The president told some of us early on, ‘You know, I want to help you get your voice back,’” Graham told me. “As far as I’m concerned, evangelicals’ voices are being heard, and this is a great example of it, with this Supreme Court decision.”
Moore framed his letter of support for Kavanaugh slightly differently. “I think we need to be the people who, at this point, recognize that we ought to be willing to critique our leaders when they do wrong, and affirm and support our leaders when they do right,” Moore told me. The ERLC has certainly been critical at times: Earlier this summer, Moore was one of many evangelical leaders who condemned the Trump administration’s policy of family separations. But Moore also seems to be looking for opportunities to celebrate “good developments” like Kavanaugh’s nomination—and find unity with other pastors who are fully supportive of Trump.