Study: Young white evangelicals are white, evangelical

Study: Young white evangelicals are white, evangelical December 17, 2019

Will young white evangelicals turn their backs on Trump?” Ryan Burge asks at Religion News Service. Burge’s answer is no, and that’s true. As he shows, the percentage of young (18-35) white evangelicals who wholeheartedly support Trumpism is little different than the percentage of older (65+) white evangelicals who do.

And that percentage will not change because it will not be allowed to change. The “negative partisanship” of younger white evangelicals that Burge measures is a prerequisite for membership in the category of white evangelicals. Those 18-to-35-year-olds who did not endorse the full agenda of Trumpism — judicial deregulation, anti-immigration, rent-seeking, sectarian ethno-nationalism, judicial nullification of the Reconstruction amendments, abortion-is-murderism, religious liberty defined as opposition to LGBT civil equality, etc. — would thereby cease to be 18-to-35-year-old white evangelicals. Whether voluntary or by Edict of Farewell, whether they jumped or were pushed, those “younger white evangelicals” would, by virtue of rejecting Trumpism, become members of some other category — post-evangelicals, “nones,” etc.

So the answer to Burge’s question is almost tautological: Young white evangelicals will not turn their backs on Trump because not questioning Trump is what makes them young white evangelicals.

The larger question — important both for the future of the church and the future of the Constitution — is whether young people will turn their backs on white evangelicalism. I suspect they will, gradually, and then all at once. At that point, no doubt, the religious press will produce articles showing that “Younger white evangelicals are sticking with Trump” based on surveys showing that all twelve of the 18-to-35-year-olds remaining white evangelicals were staunch Trump loyalists.

The more pertinent question is whether or not this change will happen in time to prevent both the church and the nation from sliding completely into white nationalist authoritarianism. My best guess as to that answer is I dunno, maybe?

Very much related to that is what Zach Beauchamp writes here for Vox,There is no culture war peace treaty“:

But here’s the thing: Dougherty’s analysis only makes sense if you think evangelicals are holding their nose and voting for Trump despite disliking him. But that’s not what polling suggests. Evangelicals like this president — they don’t think he’s a threat to the republic at all. 77 percent of white evangelicals approved of Trump’s job performance in an October PRRI survey; they were the only religious group in the survey with a majority believing Trump has not damaged the dignity of the presidency.

There’s no solid reason to think evangelicals and other Christian conservatives are Trump waverers, wringing their hands and hoping for a moderate Democratic turn. …

[White evangelicals] have conservative views on a whole swath of issues, including ones about race and identity that are so central to Trump’s appeal. You cannot disentangle their support for Trump’s policies on “religious freedom” from their support for his border wall and racial demagoguery.

… Earlier this year, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School’s Craig Ott and Juan Carlos Téllez published a survey of the academic and statistical literature on evangelical opinions on immigration. They found that “white evangelicals have the most negative views regarding immigration” as compared to “compared to all other religious groups.” …

Their analysis is borne out by recent polling on policy. Sixty-one percent of white evangelicals support Trump’s travel ban, per one 2019 survey. A Pew report found that 68 percent did not believe the US had an obligation to take in refugees — more than any other religious group surveyed. About 75 percent of white evangelicals support Trump’s proposal for a US-Mexico border wall.

These restrictive attitudes reflect deeper negative attitudes toward diversity. In one study, white evangelicals were the only religious group surveyed where a plurality (44 percent) had a “negative” view of Muslims. A data analysis by Denison University’s Paul Djupe found that white evangelicals have considerably more racial resentment toward African-Americans than the general white population. A 2018 PRRI survey found that a majority of white evangelicals believed that a majority-minority America would have a “mostly negative” effect on the country — again, alone among religious groups in the sample.

White evangelicals are not anti-abortion voters reluctantly supporting Trump in the hopes of getting an anti-abortion majority in the federal judiciary. They are Trump supporters — fearful, spiteful, white/Christian nationalists still giddy over finally achieving an anti-Voting-Rights-Act majority on the Supreme Court and hoping to solidify that for generations to come.


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