2.15.19 Americans and the Wall

Americans and the Wall

On Friday, President Donald Trump announced that he would “signing a national emergency” that would secure billions of dollars to fund a wall between the United States and Mexico. Trump’s decision comes after years of debate about the necessity of increased security. PRRI’s 2018 American Values Survey offers insight into how Americans feel about building a more secure barrier between Mexico and the United States. Among all Americans, 58 percent oppose building a wall between the U.S. and Mexico, compared to 41 percent who favor the policy. Partisans are deeply divided on this issue. Eight in ten (80 percent) Republicans favor building a wall along the border, including nearly half (45 percent) who strongly favor such a policy. By contrast, eight in ten (80 percent) Democrats oppose building a wall along the border, including more than six in ten (61 percent) who are strongly opposed. Only about one in five (19 percent) Democrats favor building a wall along with U.S.-Mexico border. Over the last several years, Republicans and Democrats have become increasingly polarized in their attitudes toward building a wall between the U.S. and Mexico. In 2016, about two-thirds (66 percent) of Republicans favored building a wall, including three in ten (30 percent) who strongly favored this policy, while three-quarters (75 percent) of Democrats were opposed, including nearly half (48 percent) who were strongly opposed. White Christian groups continue to stand out as the group most in favor of building a wall. PRRI has found that two-thirds (67 percent) of white Evangelical Protestants favor building the wall, a nine-point increase from 2016 (58 percent.) More PRRI data about how Americans feel about the wall can be found here
Abortion Becomes Key Issue for Trump

A new report in Politico describes a tense moment between President Donald Trump and Sen. Chris Coons (D-DE) about the issue of abortion. Both men were attending a dinner on the eve of the National Prayer Breakfast, when Trump apparently confronted Coons about controversial new state laws on abortion. Trump has focused on abortion in publicly recently, choosing a position that his religious base is passionate about. Evangelicals also support Trump on other issues. Gabby Orr writes, “Sixty seven percent of white evangelicals’ support Trump’s border wall, and 72 percent backed his travel ban on Muslim-majority countries, according to data compiled by the Public Religion Research Institute.” Orr also spoke with PRRI CEO and founder Robert P. Jones about evangelicals’ support for Trump’s immigration agenda. “If you look at public opinion data, white evangelicals’ connection to [Trump] isn’t because he’s carrying water for their pet causes,” says Jones. “It’s really about their broader fear about the changing demographics of the country.”
Trust Women Offers Guidance in the Abortion Debate

A recent letter published in the Daily Hampshire Gazette suggests that people who are engaging in ongoing debate about abortion should pick up a copy of Trust Women: A Progressive Christian Argument for Reproductive Justice, a book by PRRI Public Fellow Rev. Rebecca Todd Peters. In the book, Peters argues that abortion could be considered a “moral good.” In the letter, Mary Hall writes that the book counsels “to trust women to know when they may safely carry a pregnancy, and when they may not.” Hall continues, “Peters says there must be a covenantal relationship between a woman and a nascent life within her. Unless that covenant can be held and affirmed, there will not be full support for a baby-to-be. And Peters gives reasons for those rare, late-term abortions that should move anyone who does not absolutize The Unborn.”
Virginia and New Jersey Bishops Identify Priests Accused of Abuse

The names of 50 priests in Virginia who were “credibly accused of abusing minors” were released this week, shortly after a similar release of names in New Jersey. According to ABC News, none of the Virginia priests are currently active. In a message to parishioners, Bishop Barry Knestout of the Catholic Diocese of Richmond writes, “To those who experienced abuse from clergy, I am truly, deeply sorry. I regret that you have to bear the burden of the damage you suffered at the hands of those you trusted.” A 2018 PRRI survey found that 81 percent of American Catholics say that child sexual abuse by clergy is a major problem. Data from 2016 show that many former Catholic parishioners who are currently religiously unaffiliated (32 percent) cite the ongoing allegations of sex abuse against the clergy as a primary reason behind their choice to leave the church. PRRI data shows that more than six in ten (62%) of all Americans say that churches and places of worship are not responding well to issues of sexual harassment and assault. Just about one-third (36 percent) say these institutions are responding well.
Store Closes After Nike Ban

Prime Time Sports, a sporting goods store in Colorado, announced that they are closing their doors after they stopped selling Nike and began to insert themselves into conversations about anthem kneeling. In an interview before he announced the store closed, owner Stephen Martin joked, “Being a sports store without Nike is like being a gas station without gas.” Nike is a sponsor of former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who famously began kneeling during the national anthem to protest systematic oppression of African Americans. Instead of selling Nike, Martin built an in-store tribute wall to the armed forces. He writes in a goodbye post on Facebook, “PRIME TIME SPORTS is closing. All merchandise 40% OFF. Thank You for 21 mostly good years. For everybody that has offered help and support through the ‘Honor The Flag’ memorial wall and NIKE boycott, now is your time to help me liquidate.” According to PRRI data, 50 percent of Americans believe that athletes should be required to stand for the playing of the national anthem before sporting events, while roughly as many (47 percent) disagree.