1.3.19 White Evangelicals May Be Trump’s Last Resort

White Evangelicals May Be Trump’s Last Resort

“Why does President Trump continue to keep the government shut down over his demand for a border wall, when large majorities oppose it? The most obvious answer is that he senses his long-term political survival depends on keeping his wall-adoring base behind him as his legal travails mount,” writes Greg Sargent in The Washington Post. Speaking specifically about the white evangelical wing of Trump’s base, Sargent argues that these voters are especially animated by the issue of the border wall. Sargent cites PRRI data from the 2018 American Values Survey“Among white evangelical Christians, support for the wall has risen nearly 10 points since Trump campaigned on it. . . a staggering 67 percent of them favor Trump’s wall.” Sargent also spoke with PRRI CEO Robert P. Jones, who discussed the unwavering support Trump has received from white evangelicals. “Even if Trump loses support among other parts of his 2016 base, the data suggests white evangelicals may be the last loyalists standing by his side. As Democrats take control of the House and as the Mueller investigation advances, white evangelicals look to be building their own wall of defense around Trump,” Jones says.
Salon: “Merry Christmas and Happy Birthday to a Jewish Immigrant”

Over the holidays, PRRI Public Fellow Grace Yukich published a piece in Salon exploring the connection between current US immigration policy and Jesus’ immigration story. “Jesus’ parents were from Nazareth, but fearing for the life of their child, they fled to Egypt. As Christmas 2018 approaches, the U.S. is tear gassing children at the U.S.-Mexico border, whose parents seek the same security that Mary and Joseph sought for their child,” she writes. Yukich also points out that while many Christians are outraged by some of these policies, some also support them. Citing PRRI data, she argues that “some Americans do support such policies (22 percent), including a sizeable minority of white evangelical Christians, 36 percent of whom support family separation at the border.” Yukich continues: “If immigration isn’t portrayed as a religious issue in white evangelical churches, then it is little wonder that Jesus’ teachings about welcoming the immigrant — indeed, his position as an immigrant himself — are seen as irrelevant to their positions on immigration policy.”
The New Yorker: “Evangelicals of Color Fight Back Against the Religious Right”

The New Yorker’s Eliza Griswold wrote a story about evangelicals of color and their mobilization in the era of Trump. The piece profiles Lisa Sharon Harper, a prominent evangelical activist based in Washington, D.C. Griswold notes, “In the United States, evangelicalism has long been allied with political conservatism. But under Trump’s Presidency right-wing political rhetoric has become more openly racist and xenophobic.” This dynamic has helped foster pushback among evangelicals of color, including Harper, who are appalled by the political behavior of their white counterparts. Griswold also spoke to PRRI CEO Robert P. Jones for the piece, who explains why the fastest-growing demographic within evangelicalism are people of color. “Two things are contributing to this,” Jones says. “The first is demographic: the absolute number of whites in America is declining. But the decline is really turbocharged by young white evangelicals leaving the church.” According to PRRI polling, while the population of non-white Protestants and non-Christian religious groups has remained fairly stable, white Protestants and Catholics have both experienced declines, with Catholics suffering the largest decline among major religious groups – a loss of 10 percentage points overall.
Yes! Magazine: “Science of a Meaningful Life: Top 10 Insights of 2018”

Yes! magazine featured a piece that compiles a list of 10 important insights from 2018. Some of these included new knowledge and research about topics like making friends, the emotional complexity of teenagers, and the impact of smartphones on people. One important finding is that in the current political environment, Americans are more divided by identity than by issues, and often by race. Citing PRRI research, among others, to illuminate this point, the article points out that feelings of threatened status among white Christians are significant indicators of support for Trump. “These are dire developments, but we have many reasons to hope we can overcome them. These studies indicate that Americans really do agree with each other on many issues—we’ve just sorted ourselves into groups and we have lousy intergroup communication skills,” the authors write.