White Evangelical Support for Trump comes from Churchgoers, not EINOs
This article was first published on the Religion News site. It was reposted here with permission.
In the 2016 presidential election, exit polling tells us, about 8 out of 10 white evangelicals who voted pulled the lever for Donald Trump. This information came as a disappointment to many and, to some, as further indication of the moral hypocrisy of white evangelicals.
Those who promote “family values,” espouse equality for all people and stand for biblical ethics chose to embrace a man whose words and actions often place him as the antithesis of all that evangelicalism supposedly represents.
The enthusiasm of white evangelical voters did not dissipate after the election, either. Throughout an administration rife with scams, grift and bigotry, this voting bloc has remained the most loyal to the president. But Trump’s white evangelical base shows signs of weakening.
A recently released report from the Pew Research Center shows that white evangelical support for the president has slipped but it remains strong.
In February 2017, just after Trump took office, white evangelicals approved of how he handled the job of president at a rate of 78 percent. Two years later, according to Pew, that number has dipped to 69 percent.
“White evangelical Protestants consistently give President Trump high marks.” Graphic courtesy of Pew Research Center
That 9 percentage point decline is the largest drop among the groups polled, but white evangelicals have also consistently approved the president at the highest levels, so they had further to fall. The closest groups to white evangelicals in their support for Trump are white mainline Protestants (48 percent) and white Catholics (44 percent).
The groups that least approve of the president’s job performance are black Protestants and the religiously unaffiliated. For black Protestants, their rating has held steady at 12 percent approval from January 2017 to January 2019. The religiously unaffiliated logged a 20 percent approval rating. Non-white Catholics registered at 26 percent — a 13 percentage point increase in the last two years.
Of course, many white evangelicals have their reservations about Trump. As the Pew report states, leaders such as Rick Warren expressed “ambivalence” about supporting this president, and others such as Beth Moore “openly oppose” him.
A common rebuttal to statistics about Trump’s overwhelming support from white evangelicals is that these are what may be called EINOs (Evangelicals in Name Only). The white evangelicals who support Trump, so the tale goes, don’t take their faith seriously. They hardly attend church, read the Bible or exhibit other conspicuous displays of religiosity.
The Pew report tells a different story.