Are White Evangelicals the Only Religious Group to Support Trump?
According to an article published by Baptist News Global (curated from Vox) “White evangelicals are the only religious group to support Trump.” (October 8, 2018)
I doubt it.
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As recently as January 12 (2018) Deseret News Utah published an article entitled “Mormons give Trump highest support of any religious group in poll.”
So how to reconcile these seemingly conflicting reports?
First, the poll reported on in the Baptist News Global is more recent than the one reported on in the Deseret News—but not by much. Also, the poll reported on in Baptist News Global (curated from Vox) claimed that seventy-one percent of self-identifying “white evangelicals” (in the U.S.) support Trump. The poll reported on by Deseret News found that sixty-one percent of Mormons polled supported Trump.
Second, “white evangelicals” is not really a “group” in the same sense as Mormons (now preferring to be called “Latter Day Saints”) are. There is no “membership” in “white evangelicals.” One poll I read about said the poll takers considered anyone “evangelical” who was white and claimed to have had a “born again experience.” As an evangelical theologian and religion scholar I don’t take that very seriously. Being evangelical means more than just “having had a born again experience.” Also, there are many authentic evangelicals who are not white.
Third, “support Trump” is a bit vague. Many white evangelicals I know absolutely abhore many things about Trump’s personality and lifestyle but support him because of some of his policies and especially because of their long-time craving for a right-leaning Supreme Court. Now that they have it, I suspect they will stop supporting Trump—depending, of course, on who his opponent is in the next presidential election.
Also, fourth, the poll reported in the Baptist News Global indicates not only that a little over two thirds of white evangelicals support Trump but also that a little less than one third do not! That should come as a shock to people who think Trumpism and evangelical Christianity are inextricably linked.
I realize that the headline “White evangelicals are the only religious group to support Trump” is only a headline, but my objection is that many people will only read the headline. Headline writers need to be careful. The word “only” is blatantly false—given that almost two thirds of Mormons/Latter Day Saints support Trump.
This equation of evangelicalism with Trumpism is the creation of some sociologists of religion who train poll takers and interpret the polls’ results and of journalists who may (and I would say many do) have a bias against evangelicals.