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Rubio Boasts Endorsement of Controversial Theologian

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Sens. Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz are vying for evangelical support this week by touting new endorsements: Rubio’s campaign is championing Wayne Grudem, a leading anti-feminist evangelical theologian, while Cruz’s camp is trumpeting reality television star Duck Dynasty leader Phil Robertson.

Eric Teetsel, director of faith outreach for the Rubio campaign and son-in-law to Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback, announced Grudem’s endorsement Wednesday afternoon. Wayne Grudem is a professor of Biblical studies and theology at Phoenix Seminary in Arizona and author of a systematic theology textbook commonly used in conservative evangelical seminaries, who also serves on Rubio’s new religious liberty advisory board.

“Team Marco is honored to welcome Dr. Grudem aboard!” the Rubio campaign said in an emailed statement. “Grudem is one of America’s foremost theologians.”

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But even in the world of evangelical theology, Grudem is controversial. His teaching career has been largely defined by his belief that men have spiritual authority over women. His 2006 book Countering the Claims of Evangelical Feminism outlines a position of male “headship” in marriage. The Biblical ideal, Grudem believes, is that women exhibit “joyful, intelligent submission” while men live “loving, humble headship.” This dynamic also applies at church, he says—women should not preach, or teach classes about the Bible even at a Christian college, because women should not be teaching groups of men. He co-founded the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood, an organization that promotes these principles.

“From the very beginning, the Bible clearly states that men are not superior to women and women are not inferior to men,” Grudem has written. “But while the Bible does teach that men and women were created with equal value and dignity before God, it also teaches that they were create to fill different roles in marriage.”

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The Rubio campaign did not respond to TIME’s request for comment on whether Rubio supports Grudem’s position that men are spiritual leaders over women. It may raise questions, especially in Latino evangelical communities where women often preach and teach with more equality than their white counterparts.

Also on Wednesday, Cruz went all-in for Duck Commander Phil Robertson, a celebrity in some evangelical circles. Cruz for President released a video of the two of them duck hunting—face paint, shotguns and all—where Robertson shared his support for Cruz in a duck blind. “My qualifications for president of the United States are rather narrow: Is he or she Godly, does he or she love us, can he or she do the job, and finally would they kill a duck and put him in a pot and make him a good duck gumbo?” Robertson said.

Robertson was suspended from A&E in 2013 for comments comparing homosexuality to bestiality and promiscuity.

Last year at the Family Research Council’s Watchmen on the Wall conference in Washington, Cruz also aligned himself with Grudem. Cruz addressed the crowd after Grudem compared FRC president Tony Perkins to Martin Luther King Jr. for defending Christians against the government.

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