1.24.19 Janelle Wong: “We Are All Evangelicals Now”

Janelle Wong: “We Are All Evangelicals Now”

PRRI Public Fellow Janelle Wong wrote a piece for Religion & Politics outlining the ways in which white evangelical Protestants and their non-white evangelical counterparts exemplify broader fissures in American society. Wong writes, “I am convinced that evangelicals do not represent a separate or wholly unique force in the United States. Rather, they exemplify current trends in American political life around race and difference, only in a more intense way.” Wong cites PRRI data showing high levels of support for President Trump among white evangelicals support for the president, but she also points out that support for the president was higher among non-evangelical whites than among evangelicals of color. This supports her claim that partisanship influences religious affiliation and identity, not the other way around. “The bottom line is that the racial divides and racial anxieties we see in evangelical America are not so different from the views of white Americans more generally,” she concludes.  
Covington Catholic Story Plays to Trump’s Base

Washington Post columnist Philip Bump explores a controversial incident that took place last Friday at the Lincoln Memorial. Certain details are known: “A large group of high school students from Kentucky, in town for the antiabortion March for Life rally, were gathered there waiting for school buses that would take them home. A small group of Black Hebrew Israelites were there, too, as were participants in the Indigenous Peoples March, held that same day,” he writes. What happened next is unclear, since various sides have offered conflicting accounts. The president, however, has weighed in unequivocally on the side of the high school students. Bump explores why the president is supporting the students, writing: “Trump’s base is heavily predicated on support from Americans who identify as religious. . .The core of the group that is most loyal to Trump also identifies as evangelical Christian.” 
Lady Gaga: Mike Pence is the Worst Representation of a Christian           

Actress and singer Lady Gaga had disparaging words for Vice President Mike Pence this week, calling him “the worst representation of what it means to be a Christian.” Gaga was responding to recent reports that Pence’s wife, Karen, has accepted a part-time job at a religious school in northern Virginia school where she had previously worked while her husband was a congressman. The school’s policies have been described as anti-gay and anti-trans. Ben Kesslen of NBC News writes, “While opposition to gay rights is still relatively strong among evangelical Christians, a 2017 report by the Public Religion Research Institute found most religious groups in the U.S. are supportive of LGBTQ rights, including same-sex marriage.” The PRRI report shows that roughly two-thirds of white mainline Protestants (67 percent), white Catholics (66 percent), Orthodox Christians (66 percent), and Hispanic Catholics (65 percent) also favor same-sex marriage.
Salon: The Wall is About Competing Visions of America

In a new piece for Salon, Heather Digby Parton examines how support and opposition to a border wall between the U.S. and Mexico are connected to other political issues Patton, exploring a similar theme that Ron Brownstein outlined in an article for CNN earlier this week, argues that the wall has “become a metaphor for political divide.” She writes, “When Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), said the other day that the wall had become a metaphor for border security, he was half right. It’s become a metaphor for the political divide.” She continues, “Recent polling from the Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI) reveals that the wall represents something very different to those who support it and those who don’t. What it means goes right to the heart of how these different Americans see themselves, their future and their country.” The 2018 PRRI American Values Survey shows that there are multiple noteworthy trends about other political issues that track with Americans’ support or opposition to the wall.
Will a Less Religious America Be a Less Generous America?

In a recent article for The Boston Globe, columnist Jeff Jacoby questions the repercussions of America’s changing religious identity. According to Jacoby, “religion in the United States is in a slump” as the share of Americans who reject any religious affiliation continues to rise. Jacoby cites a 2017 PRRI survey that illuminates the country’s changing religious landscape. Per PRRI polling, 38 percent of Americans under the age of 30 describe themselves as having no religious identity. “If present trends continue, these “nones” will outnumber Catholics by 2020, and will be more numerous than Protestants by 2035,” writes Jacoby. In the article, Jacoby quotes Karl Zinsmeister, the editor of the Almanac of American Philanthropy, who notes that “religious practice is the behavioral variable with the strongest and most consistent association with generous giving.” Will a decline in faith lead to a less charitable America? Jacoby argues that America’s generosity “will take a hit.”