White Evangelicals Stand with Trump

Are evangelicals moving away from Trump?

Family Research Council leader Tony Perkins wrote yesterday that any suggestion evangelicals are deserting Trump is wrong. He cited research from the Pew Foundation as a support.

Contrary to media reports, Perkins said white evangelicals, young and old, are sticking with Trump and also sticking with their evangelical identification. He took his information directly from a Christian Post article which reported on a speech given by Pew Foundation’s  Alan Cooperman. One fact that Perkins didn’t report is that evangelical voters are becoming more accepting of gays and same-sex marriage, even as they are becoming more pro-life and supportive of the Republican party. This is a trend I have written about previously.

Regarding Trump, white evangelicals gave him a 71% approval rating. For Perkins, this is a source of happiness; for me, it is a discouraging fact. According to Cooperman, those who attend church frequently are more likely than infrequent attenders to support him.

Something that Perkins doesn’t mention that concerns me is the wide gap between white and black evangelicals. Just 11% of black millennial Protestants identify as Republican whereas 77% of white millennial evangelicals do. While I don’t know what this means, the difference is stunning. On the big political issues of the day, religious similarity isn’t a unifying force. It is a big problem for me that the leader of a group purporting to research the Christian family doesn’t report this as a problem for the church.

This difference jumps out at me more than anything else in this report about Cooperman’s presentation. In general, blacks and whites see many issues differently in the culture. White evangelicals want to believe that the gospel unifies. Those opposed to social justice initiatives claim the gospel is enough to unify. However, in practice, that doesn’t seem to be working out. Instead of crowing about political victories, I think white evangelical leaders should be grieving and listening to our minority brothers and sisters.


32 thoughts on “White Evangelicals Stand with Trump”

  1. Is this the prayer meeting where that black pastor killed a spider on trump’s arm?
    Why is a black hand seen but only a finger?
    Why the racial overtone

  2. On other evangelical news fronts, Google Pat Robertson + African diamonds; also Jerry Falwell Jr + poolboy + Michael Cohen.

  3. I love when little kittens pop up for pictures–it means that my Making America Kittens Again plugin is working. And it’s so wonderful to see kittens instead of Donald Trump.

  4. Trump is the grievance president. He gives voice to the grievances (many of them imagined, all of them exaggerated) of right-wing conservatives who believe their vision for America (epitomized by rose-tinted fantasies of white suburban 1950s America) is circling the drain.

    And by and large, conservative Evangelicals have been just as receptive of his dystopian message as the rest of the right, embracing it, even reveling in it. So of course Tony Perkins doesn’t care about the racial divide in the Evangelical community. No doubt he subscribes to the commonly held rationalization that black people are being held in thrall by the Democrats and their evil social welfare programs, not realizing (or at least not admitting) just how insulting that is to black people, who are just as capable of thinking for themselves as anyone else.

    For people like Perkins, it’s all about power and influence. Of course, they would prefer Pence — he’s one of them — but the bottom line is that they don’t really care who it is, as long as he listens to them and his administration carries out their desired political agenda. If Trump really did round up the targets of the recent mail bombings (Clinton, Soros, Biden, etc.) and “lock them up” Perkins would find a way to voice support his actions.

    1. Good evening Tacitis,
      The dark side of the 1st Ammendment is that fear mongering is very lucrative. I personally think that FOX could care less about conservative causes – they would embrace anything that made them as much money as easily as their brand of popular ‘conservativism’. There are a lot of people who willingly drank the kool-aide. It provides a emotional satisfying answer to their fears and problems – ‘It is the others’.
      A very interesting article was done by the NY Times comparing Muskogee OK (Merle Haggard fame) and Baltimore. (May 6, 2015 Sex, Drugs and Poverty in Red and Blue America – Did I do the footnote correctly Warren?).

      Best regards,

  5. I despise Trump. But just because a complete manbaby has some crossover with my policy priorities as a voter, does not mean I am going to go support another candidate or party who completely opposes most of my convictions and beliefs. The velcro between Trump and white evangelicals is prolife SCOTUS picks, and I have to admit that they have been validated in pragmatic terms. Kick Trump out (please) and make it Pence, and the bond will be even STRONGER. If asked by a researcher, I would not identify as Republican. But I am not running to Democrats. I’m scanning the horizon for a party that actually represents me. I believe many black Americans (based on what I have heard personally and from various black authors/thinkers/speakers, from Glenn Loury to Cornel West) have been doing the exact same thing.

    1. Kick Trump out (please) and make it Pence, and the bond will be even STRONGER.

      I have no doubt that Pence’s conservative agenda would be even more focused, and aimed even more precisely at evangelicals. However, and I don’t mean this to sound smug, the difference I see between you and I on this is that I am willing to accept a president that goes against my values, perhaps even more so than Hillary and the democrats go against yours, if it means saving the country from a truly and objectively dangerous, mentally troubled man like Trump. As for a third choice, one can dream about it but Trump was elected in the present. What you seek is unlikely, but in the future if at all.

      1. I think Pence would be worse in many ways. He is a conservative ideologue, and would be more efficient and ruthless in turning the nation to the hard right. He’s also indelibly implicated in Trump’s administration. He may not be as actively involved as, say, Cheney was, but neither is he keeping at arms length. It was his choice to team up with Trump, after all, and anyone who believes he did that to help save the nation needs to wise up about political ambition.

        Of course, Trump will have to be removed if he imperils the nation (more than he is right now), but a far better course is to kick him out in November 2020 along with the rest of his increasingly motley crew.

        1. As I said, I believe Pence would be a hard right, harshly conservative president and I agree he would probably be more effective at changing the nation’s policies in that direction. There is little if anything about his ideologies with which I agree. However, I believe he is sane. If Trump continues to be contained by those around him, or if nothing triggers him to do something that can’t be contained or fixed, you may be correct that enduring him until 2020 will be the best path.

          My point was that I am willing to take a president and a party that goes against my values in order to avoid the dangers associated with a man like Trump in a position of such power, and I truly wish more had been willing to do the same in 2016.

    2. So long as you vote for Trump, you are giving tacit approval to all that he is doing to our country: Destabilizing institutions, provoking xenophobia and anti-semitism, modeling bullying as a legitimate method of resolving differences. I understand not wanting to vote for those who don’t share your views, but please don’t pretend that voting for Trump is a morally acceptable alternative.

      1. A) I have never said I voted for or support Trump. I have said I can understand why others have felt cornered into doing so, or what their rationale was.

        B) I’ll decide for myself what is morally acceptable, thanks.

    3. I have found myself wondering over the years, perusing so many “Christian voting guides” distributed at church that were essentially GOP campaign flyers, exactly what my fellow evangelicals would be willing to tolerate in a candidate or party if that candidate or party were also anti-abortion and anti-gay-marriage. Increasingly in recent years I am finding that the answer is . . . ABSOLUTELY ANYTHING.

      As an aside, I very intentionally used the descriptor “anti-abortion” rather than “pro-life“ because apart from the unborn in the womb, I fail to see anything whatsoever in today’s GOP policies that could be reasonably described as “pro-life.” I consider myself pro-life, but I try to be as consistent as possible in extending that definition beyond just the womb.

      1. Note to War-El, I should have stated in my comment that I was piggybacking onto the topic you raised in your comment, not aiming my comment at you. I don’t know you or anything of your views beyond what you stated in your comment, and my comment wasn’t directed at you. I was expressing my thoughts on the topic you had mentioned, related to my own experience with the people I live around and work and go to church with. I didn’t want it to read like it was directed specifically back at you.

      2. I also don’t use “pro-life” to describe the group you reference. However I also don’t agree with your using “anti-abortion”; it insinuates that their opponents are “pro-abortion”.

        A more accurate description is “anti-abortion rights” vs. “pro-abortion rights” advocates. I.e., there’s plenty of “pro-abortion rights” advocates who seek policies that reduce unplanned pregnancies, teen pregnancies, and therefore demand for abortion. These people have a far more legitimate claim to being “anti-abortion” than the so-called pro-life movement; that’s because they seek policies validated to reduce abortion rates that also protect the health and life of pregnant women.

        1. I understand what you are saying, my focus was primarily in contesting the “pro-life” label claimed by people (especially evangelicals) solely on the basis of the abortion question, and then in so many other areas having positions that skew against the affirmation of life.

  6. Just 11% of black millennial Protestants identify as Republican whereas 77% of white millennial evangelicals do. While I don’t know what this means, the difference is stunning. On the big political issues of the day, religious similarity isn’t a unifying force.

    I have no hard data, but I would guess that similar gaps existed in the struggle for human rights. I know such gaps exists between mainline denominations and evangelicals regarding gay marriage. I would like to believe that the gospel unifies – we are all humble sinners in need of grace; but unfortunately, too often Christian leaders use the “gospel” as a means to secure power and as an excuse to fight social change.

  7. Regarding Trump, white evangelicals gave him a 71% approval rating. For Perkins, this is a source of happiness; for me, it is a discouraging fact.

    For me, it was the abandonment of my self-identification as a Christian. Using that word to identify myself is simply not something I can do in a state that Trump won. I won’t associate with that particular brand of hatred, and I don’t want to confuse other people by telling them I’m a Christian, which mostly means a Trump supporter.

    1. A sad commentary that Christian is associated with bigotry and not virtue.

      I saw a picture during the Civil Rights movement – I think it was taken during the walk to Birmingham. The only white face to be seen in the picture was a Catholic Priest. I have often pondered if I would answer my call to the Garden of Gethsemane or how I would show my faith as I walked into the Roman Arena.

      — CJ

    1. I think this is a very important question. I wonder how many white evangelicals have been “pushed out” because of concerns about the ever-increasing affiliation of white evangelicalism with the Republican party. I am a case in point, I still identify as an evangelical, but only barely, as I am deeply troubled by the strong affiliation of the church with the Republican party (truthfully, I am troubled by the notion of the church strongly affiliating itself with ANY political party, as doing so seems to inevitably reshape the church’s mission away from faith and following God’s word, and instead towards serving the party’s platform). I am very close to no longer identifying with evangelicalism because “evangelical” has become near-synonymous with “Republican and Trump-devotee.” I wonder to what extent we are observing a dynamic where white evangelicals are a shrinking population and those who remain are much more likely to be those who support and prefer that political affiliation.

      I have heard similar speculations about how the Republican party has grown increasingly strong in its approval of Trump, and how that may be driven in part by the departure from the party of those who are troubled by Trump’s personality and policies.

      1. I doubt it’s that many — certainly not enough to move the needle significantly. It’s really not that difficult to say you’re an evangelical *and* that you don’t support Trump. In any case, not all evangelicals are politically conservative anyway.

    2. There is a lot to unravel in those numbers.

      First, yes, the numbers are on the decline, but they are declining more slowly than the mainline Protestant and Catholic numbers are, which are going down three times as quickly. This really should not be a surprise to anyone given the more insular nature of the more fundamentalist strains of Christianity. “In the world, not of the world” etc.

      Those who adhere to more liberal denominations are much more laissez faire about letting their children decide for themselves what to believe in. I doubt anywhere near as many evangelicals are willing to take that chance.

      Which brings me to my next point — the change in religious landscape in America over the last 50 years is largely inter-generational. If you look at the numbers within each generation, they have been remarkably consistent since polling began in the 1960s. The decline in religious affiliation is very much down to succeeding generations not carrying on their family’s religious traditions in increasing numbers. (This has already happened in many other nations — the US is a couple of decades behind in that trend).

      And, of course, the decline will be faster in families who are less ideologically wedded to their faith since there is less pressure from the older generations to conform, but none is immune to the ongoing secularization of society, so I wouldn’t be surprised to see the evangelical decline start catching up with the other Christian faith traditions.

      Finally, if anything, I think Trump has confirmed that this isn’t about religious faith, it’s about political ideology. Christianity might be on the decline, but I’m not sure right wing conservatism is, and Trump-supporting atheists are more than happy to find common cause with Trump-supporting evangelicals. Even if Christians were a small minority in this country, I think Trump would still have found enough supporters to win the presidency. Fear and grievance sells, unfortunately.

  8. Contrary to media reports, Perkins said white evangelicals, young and old, are sticking with Trump and also sticking with their evangelical identification.

    By their fruits, ye shall know them.

    For what shall it profit white evangelical Christianity, if they gain the White House but lose their own soul?

    1. Good evening Neil,

      It is shocking at the lack of faith these people show. They seem to have abandoned faith and are clinging to a emotionally satisfying solution that is at odds with their stated beliefs.
      I see how people react to some of Warren’s work and it is not rejoicing in the truth. They seem to believe that by loosing some juvenile beliefs God will disappear. The challenge is not to defend God, but to develop faith so your example shows the power of the Risen Lord. They seem pretty contend with worshiping the Golden Calf of the American Dream and having a religion that doesn’t demand much of them.
      — CJ

  9. It does seem that, as some sociologists and pollsters have said, one’s political tribe is more important to most people (and so, more unifying) than their spiritual tribe. This seems to be a confirmation of that principle, and so the cart is before the horse: a sure sign of strife and dysfunction, personally, and “institutionally.”

    1. It’s a natural result of commingling religious identity with political persuasion, and has been going on for centuries. And for many, political interest determines the flexibility of one’s faith. What is striking to me is how easily some people will bend their religious teachings to justify political allegiance. Holding one’s own favorites to the texts they claim to follow is rare. In the end, self trumps all else.

    2. I’ve been saying this for years. Political ideology is far more unifying force than religious belief in America these days. There was a time when Evangelicals went on missions to convert Catholics and Mormons (a colleague of mine went on one just 20 years ago). Today they’re political bedfellows, working together to achieve shared objectives.

      And really, outside the common fundamental declarations of faith, many liberal Christians and conservative Christians have so little in common they might as well be of completely different religious faiths (and many Christians of both persuades would agree with me.. often to the point where they doubt the others are “True Christians!”).

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