|Jared Polis Sworn In as Colorado Governor|
In his first interview as the governor of Colorado, with The Colorado Sun, former congressman Jared Polis (D-CO) lays out his vision. “I will do things differently,” Polis says. “And we are focused on the big ideas — meaning things that will really move the dial and improve the quality of life for Coloradans.” In his upcoming “state of the state” address, Polis is expected to outline plans for free statewide kindergarten and a tax plan that would include breaks for small businesses. Upon his swearing-in, Polis became the first openly gay governor in the country’s history. According to PRRI data from 2018, 29 percent of Americans believe the country would be better off if it had more LGBT elected officials, about half (48 percent) say this would not make a difference, and 21 percent say this will make the country worse. Forty percent of Republicans believe that things would be worse, compared to just 12 percent of Democrats.
|As People Leave Churches, Disaster Remains|
Kelsey Dallas, writing in Deseret News, describes the impact of declines in religious practice on disaster recovery efforts. Dallas tells the story of John Kincaid, a Vietnam veteran who drives around Florida aiding those in need as part of the Churches of Christ Disaster Relief Effort. She writes, “For centuries, houses of worship have anchored communities’ responses to natural disasters, organizing donation drives and offering comfort to the afflicted.” According to Dallas, recent downward trends in religious participation have led to smaller pools of resources when disaster strikes. According to PRRI analysis from 2017, the proportion of Americans who identify as religiously unaffiliated has roughly tripled since the early 1990s.
|Not All Evangelicals Support Trumpism|
A new piece in The New Yorker examines prominent ties between conservative evangelicals and President Trump. Jerry Falwell Jr., the president of Liberty University, one of the largest Christian universities in the country, recently said there was nothing Trump could do to lose the support of the evangelical community. In the article, journalist Eliza Griswold profiles Karen Swallow Prior, a professor at Liberty who disagrees with many of the political and cultural stances associated with white evangelical Protestants. “Although Prior believes, as most evangelicals do, that the only way to Heaven is through belief in Jesus Christ, she challenges other commonly held positions as cultural rather than Biblical,” Griswold writes. “This includes the Billy Graham rule, a practice followed by male pastors, as well as Mike Pence, which forbids them from being alone with women other than their wives. To Prior, this is encoded sexism.” Speaking about the Billy Graham rule, Prior tells Griswold, “It would be very amusing if it didn’t represent such potential harm to the church.” In October, PRRI found that white evangelical Protestants are unique among major religious groups in their support for Trump. Sixty-eight percent of white evangelical Protestants have a favorable view of President Trump.
|Is Trump Trying to Create a Crisis?|
“The president didn’t declare a state of national emergency on Tuesday night, but he laid the foundation for doing so,” writes Peter Beinart in The Atlantic. Beinart lays out his argument by pointing out that the president’s address to the nation on Tuesday night did not mention why it was important to build a border wall, how it would be done, or even how much land it would cover. “The real purpose of Trump’s speech wasn’t to persuade Americans to support a wall. It was to convince them that America faces an immigration ‘crisis,’” Beinart writes. Trump emphasized this last point by linking undocumented migrants with drug-related deaths and the murder of police. Beinart argues that the speech was meant to incite the president’s base of supporters by telling them that extreme action is needed to counter an extreme threat. Citing PRRI research, he writes: “In a December 2017 poll, two-thirds of Trump’s strongest supporters told the Public Religion Research Institute, ‘Because things have gotten so far off track in this country, we need a leader who is willing to break some rules.’”