Thursday, April 11, 2019

Gallup: 70% of White Evangelicals Support Trump. Why?

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Gallup published a study this week they called, "fascinating," that caught my attention---70% of evangelicals still support Trump. They're trying to figure out why.

I received an email yesterday from a reader of this column in New Mexico, who is critically asking why I refer to presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg as a "Homosexual," but not Trump as a "sexual harasser?"

Why do millions, (70% ), of white evangelicals support Trump? Why do I support Trump?

Be informed.


Frank Newport, the senior scientist with Gallup, published a report this week that finds "One of the fascinating aspects of Donald Trump's presidency so far has been the stability of his support among Americans. His overall approval rating has varied little over his first 2 1/4 years in office."

"And more significantly," Newport writes, "his approval rating has varied little among one the most important segments of his base---highly religious, white Protestants."

The way Gallup identifies an "evangelical" is one who "identifies as white and Protestant, and who attend services weekly or almost every week."

He notes that PEW, who defines "evangelicals" as those who identify as "born-again" or "evangelical," have also recently found that 69% of that group still support Trump.


Newport identifies several reasons why he believes this is true. I suggest you read the report linked above.

Here's his takeaway:

  • Americans' self-identification as a Republican or as a Democrat is translated into almost universal approval or disapproval of Trump, regardless of classification as evangelical or not.
  • Newport says "The relationship between religion and politics is not new....These patterns are [ more religious people approving of a Republican president] pretty baked into modern day politics. I don't imagine they are going to change dramatically going forward. Trump has not, to this point, disrupted the historical relationship among being Republican and supporting a Republican president."
  • He says "Some have argued that evangelicals might approve of Trump's performance as president while disapproving of him as a person. Our data, however, show that highly religious, white Protestants' favorable views of Trump are basically identical to their approval of the job he is doing."

My takeaway is that Gallup generally thinks we evangelicals do not necessarily vote our values and do not consider personal morality as important as political party affiliation.

Personally, I disagree. The evangelical Republicans I know--and I know quiet a few---do not put Party first.

That's why so many evangelicals sat out the election where Mitt Romney was the Republican nominee. And it's why we would do it again under similar circumstances.

Other news organizations.

A number of news organizations have been trying to solve the puzzle since evangelicals put Trump in office and sent Hillary home.

With the 2020 election looming, they are revisiting the question of how evangelicals could possibly support Trump.

A sampling of their journey to discover is interesting and revealing.

USA Today

USA Today ran an op-ed by Dr. John Fea, professor of American History and chairman of the Department of History at Messiah College in Pennsylvania.

He says, "For the past year I've been thinking deeply about why so many of my fellow evangelical Christians support Donald Trump."

He questions why they support his "zero tolerance" immigration plan, why they give Trump a "mulligan" on the Stormy Daniels affair, why evangelicals are silent about Trump's alleged support of white supremacists and he wonders what "kind of power does Trump hold over men and women who claim to be followers of Jesus Christ?"

He says, "Evangelical support for Trump goes much deeper than simply a few Supreme Court justices."

He concludes, "Why do so many evangelicals believe in Donald Trump? Because they privilege fear over hope, power over humility, and nostalgia over history."


TIME published an opinion last year that said:
"Eighty percent of white evangelicals voted for and, by and large, continue to support President Trump. To almost everyone else in America, this seems like a fundamental contradiction. But to Trump's faithful, it is Providence at work in human history. They believe God is making America great again through an imperfect human agent. And like any true believers, they will not be moved."

The writer, Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove, continues with a treatise on progressive Left beliefs including taking on the "Moral Majority" of a generation ago, noting that the Klu Klux Klan saw themselves as champions of morality, and the carefully explains Slaveholder Religion" making the link to all who support Trump.

He concludes that "America's long history of slaveholder religion makes clear that the faith of Trump's preachers is not new."

"But," he says, "it is also not the only faith in this land. Preachers like So Journers [Jim Wallis] , J.W. Hood who rallied to the faithful to fight for Reconstruction after the Civil War, just as Social Gospelers were motivated by moral vision...This faith is still with us in churches that offer sanctuary to immigrant neighbors facing deportation and in the Moral Movement ld by the Rev. Dr. William J. Barber II."

The Washington Post

This week the Washington Post gave an analysis of the Gallup study. They too, link the evangelical support for Trump to the birth of the "religious right" of the 1980s.

They conclude that pastors are generally silent about politics, which in their mind is a good thing, but the Post says:
"These pastors cannot control the messaging their flocks imbibe after they leave church on Sunday. And a massive Christian Right messaging machine targets these Americans with precision....appealing to long-standing evangelical fears about cultural decline or provide selective historical evidence that the United States was founded as, and continues to be, a 'Christian nation', even though this never was true."

The New York Times

And finally. The New York Times published this in December: "Why Trump Reigns as King Cyrus."

The writer, Katherine Smith, notes the film, "The Trump Prophecy," reminding her readers that the film may have caused Trump to be elected.

The film highlights an actor having an epiphany, picking up his Bible and turning to the 45th chapter of Isaiah which describes the anointing of King Cyrus by God---in the next scene the film cuts to Donald Trump being interviewed on the "700 Club."

She quotes an evangelical author, Lance Wallnau, who appears in the film saying, "I believe the 45th President is meant to be an Isaiah 45 Cyrus."

She concludes that today's evangelicals "talk a good game about respecting the Constitution and America's Founders, but at bottom, they really want a king."

"This isn't the religious right we thought we knew," she says. "The Christian nationalist movement today is authoritarian, paranoid and patriarchal at its core. Thy aren't fighting a culture war. They're making a direct attack on democracy itself."

My personal response.

We will continue this tomorrow, both here in this Faith and Freedom Daily column and on our live radio program. I have some very deeply felt convictions on this matter.

This is an important topic. It's one that every evangelical Christian is going to be confronted with during the next year and a half in the run-up to the 2020 election---which I believe will be the most consequential election since the Civil War.

Be Informed. Be Prayerful. Be Prepared.