In a Washington Post/ABC News poll taken from April 22-25, 59% of white evangelicals say they will “definitely” vote for President Donald Trump in the 2020 election. Another 23% say they will consider voting for him. Only 15% say they definitely will not vote for him.
Despite widespread coverage of the Mueller report, evangelical voters seem fixed on Trump. Perhaps white evangelicals don’t believe there is much to worry about. In the same poll, 57% of evangelicals said they don’t think Russian interference will be a threat to the 2020 election. Nearly 8 in 10 (78%) didn’t think the interference had an impact on the 2016 election. Compared to other groups, evangelicals led the way in skepticism about the influence of Russian meddling.
Evangelicals are with Trump on immigration as well. They are the leading group to say his immigration policies make them more likely to support him in the next election. Sixty-three percent believe Trump’s immigration policies are good compared to 16% who oppose them. Among all voters the breakdown is 34% who support Trump due to his immigration policies versus 42% who oppose him for that reason.
I don’t think it goes too far to say that white evangelicals as a group see the world about like Donald Trump. This is a frightening and sobering thought.
Update: Trump just now posted an apology video, if you can call it that. In it he goes on the attack and shows no sign of stepping down.
Update: Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) calls on Trump to drop out.
Alan Noble started a petition aimed at the RNC to fire Trump.
The October surprise (although it shouldn’t be a big surprise) has come and Donald Trump’s support from evangelicals is being tested. Will they signal to him that they are leaving or will they stand by their man?
Donald Trump’s 2005 taped vulgar conversation involving glorification of assaulting women has resulted in loss of support from some GOP elected officials. An appearance tomorrow with Paul Ryan has been canceled. What will big name evangelical supporters do?
They probably could push him from the race. If enough pulled support and he saw his base leaving him, he might drop out rather than lose badly. However, if he thinks he has a base and could win, he may stay in.
Readers, if you see reports of evangelicals going one way or the other, please post in the comments.
After initially making light of the situation, Eric Metaxas tweeted:
Absolutely correct. Can there be any question? Not from where I stand. Ugly stuff. God bless you. https://t.co/SCBHZ0ie22
Michael Gerson nails it in his column about evangelical support for Donald Trump in yesterday’s Washington Post.
He reports that 500 evangelical “leaders” will meet with Trump on June 21 and berates them because he assumes they have sold out. It certainly looks that way to me.
I think evangelical leaders have a lot to lose by supporting Trump. Gerson asserts that they take on the mark of Trump by their support. They risk selling their souls for a nasty political stew. I already don’t follow or respect most of them because they have been doing it for years. In this case, Trump has no redeeming qualities as a potential president and many obvious detriments. Evangelicals who jump on board will lose more than an election.
One bright spot in the article Gerson cited:
On the other hand, NewSpring Church Senior Pastor Perry Noble is not too eager to attend the said event. He wrote on his website last week that he’s one of those exclusively invited but called the event a “hypocrisy.”
Perry added that Trump has already spent enough time “proving himself.”
Southern Baptist president Ronnie Floyd wants to get to know Trump. Noble correctly says Trump has already let everybody know who he is. What will a 5 minute handshake and a meeting with 500 people tell you about Trump that he hasn’t already said and done?
FRC’s head Tony Perkins told Time that the purpose is to get to know Trump.
The invitation-only event is scheduled on June 21 in New York City and will be attended by the top names in the evangelical and conservative groups. President of the Family Research Council Tony Perkins told Time that the goal for the event is for them to get to know Trump and his state policies further.
I can just hear Perkins doing his Bing Crosby imitation.
Gettin’ to know you,
Gettin’ to know all about you.
Gettin’ to like you,
Gettin’ to hope you like me.
Gettin’ to know you,
Putting it my way but nicely.
You are precisely,
My cup of tea.
I honestly think that conservative Christians will look back on this embrace of Trump (by some) as one of the most disturbing and embarrassing periods in their history of public engagement. Many evangelicals I know now regard Falwell and Robertson at the height of their influence in the 80s and 90s as simplistic, discrediting representatives of their ideals. That is nothing… nothing… compared to shameful spectacle of Christians contorting their convictions to accept a secularist who praises the love of money and builds resentment against minorities and the vulnerable.
At least Rubio has better taste than Ted Cruz in historians. World magazine has the list of Rubio’s religious liberty advisory board members. Seriously, Thomas Kidd’s presence in this group makes me feel better about Rubio.
Carlos Campo—president, Ashland University
Vincent Bacote—associate professor of theology and director of the center for applied Christian ethics, Wheaton College
Kyle Duncan—former general counsel of the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty and lead counsel for the Green family in the Hobby Lobby case
Tom Farr—director of the Religious Freedom Project at the Berkley Center for Religion, Peace, and World Affairs and associate professor of the practice of religion and world affairs, Georgetown University
Kelly Fiedorek—legal counsel, Alliance Defending Freedom
Wayne Grudem—research professor of theology and biblical studies, Phoenix Seminary
Chad Hatfield—chancellor, St. Vladimir’s Orthodox Seminary
Thomas Kidd—distinguished professor of history and associate director, Institute for Studies of Religion, Baylor University
Daniel Mark—Villanova University and commissioner, United States Commission on International Religious Freedom
Michael McConnell—Richard and Frances Mallery professor and director of the Constitutional Law Center, Stanford University Law School
Doug Napier—senior counsel and executive vice president, Alliance Defending Freedom
Samuel Rodriguez—president, National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference
Meir Soloveichik—rabbi of Congregation Shearith Israel and director of the Straus Center for Torah and Western Thought, Yeshiva University
Rick Warren—founding pastor, Saddleback Church
Thomas White—president and professor of theology, Cedarville University
Institutional affiliations for identification purposes only
Brooks is a good writer and makes a good case for what I consider to be the right position.
In essence, he says evangelicals have lost the culture war over sexual matters, and so should consider being more like the Salvation Army than the Moral Majority. Become useful again. Actually, there is a lot of that going on and Brooks says evangelicals should become known for our good works of community as opposed to outrage over gay marriage.
It is hard to look at the ministry of Jesus and find fault with Brooks’ suggestions. Christians getting all mad over losing some political power doesn’t look like the New Testament to me.
Speaking from experience, the other culture war was exciting. There was a feeling of doing something important and meaningful. I thought the objective of defeating the godless liberals was a noble cause. Being a part of the in-group is a power social experience. However, I believe there is a better way to live.
Culture warring (on both extremes I think) requires lots of confirmation bias and self-deception. As I began to raise questions about the intellectual honesty of, for instance, the evangelical positions on the causes of same-sex orientation and the lack of change really happening, I was strongly discouraged from going there. I went there.
After I went there, certain evangelicals demanded my college fire me, my family was lied about and various other in-group rejections happened. I still believe in the same Jesus and still sing from the same hymnbook, but you can’t be an A-List evangelical unless you’re willing to believe a particular set of premises. Nothing much has changed; if you go after sacred cows, the cows’ caretakers get angry, often in Jesus’ name.
I write all of this because I fear that, without some kind of retraining, the hard core evangelical culture warriors may not be up to what Brooks says is a struggle for which social conservatives should be well-equipped:
The more practical struggle is to repair a society rendered atomized, unforgiving and inhospitable.
Brooks’ suggestions are good, but there are practical problems. Evangelicals can’t even agree that it would be a good idea for a Christian to serve all comers in our businesses. We can’t even agree that being hospitable and Christlike means bakers should bake a cake for gay customers. The culture warriors applaud the person who takes actions which are inhospitable. Currently, evangelicals need to own our part in rendering society “atomized, unforgiving, and inhospitable” and to repair our own community, before we can help anybody else do it.