Christian Nationalism: A ‘Stained-Glass Ceiling’ for LGBTQ Candidates?

Christian Nationalism: A ‘Stained-Glass Ceiling’ for LGBTQ Candidates?

In a new spotlight analysis, PRRI Public Fellow R.G. Cravens III explores connections between the influence and principles of white Christian nationalism and the recent waves of legislation targeting LGBTQ people, classroom conversations about equality, and reproductive rights. He writes that the prevalence of white Christian nationalism can be seen in political discourse and among multiple prominent Republican figures. Cravens goes on to address how Christian nationalism affects political decisions that implicate gender and sexuality by examining the relationship between Christian nationalism and support for LGBTQ political candidates. Ultimately, as Christian nationalism continues to be a prominent aspect of American politics, it will pose obstacles to LGBTQ representation and policy success in future elections.

Cravens cites research from PRRI finding that nearly three-quarters of Americans believe the United States has always been a force for good in the world, and that more than half say there has never been a time when they were not proud to be American. However, Christian nationalism is not strictly about “religious affiliation or being a proud American;” it also encompasses the idea that current American social and political institutions should explicitly privilege conservative Christian beliefs, Cravens explains. He details the ideology of people who are Christian nationalists: they are more likely to support actions by the state to both privilege their views in public policy and suppress their political opponents’ ability to challenge their political power, and also express different policy preferences than religious people. Findings from Craven’s recent research suggests that Christian nationalism helps to “solidify opposition to LGBT political candidates because they represent challenges to heterosexuality and traditional gender roles, but also because they represent challenges to straight and cisgender political power.”

Not a Competition: Pro-Immigrant Attitudes of Black Americans Have Increased Over Time

PRRI Public Fellows Jane HongLaura AlexanderKaren Michalka and Luis Romero document the attitudes of Black Americans toward immigrants, debunking some common beliefs in their new spotlight analysis. The authors write that, in the last decade, Black Americans’ views toward immigration and immigrants have been extremely positive overall, even increasing in some regards. “Based on cross-sectional PRRI polling data from 2010 through 2021, Black Americans generally recognize that narratives about negative impacts of immigration are untrue, and their support for immigrants has tended to increase,” the scholars write. This underscores studies that find immigration has no correlation to negative impacts on economies, and that the presence of immigrants actually leads to greater security and less crime.

PRRI’s 2021 American Values Survey found that two-thirds of Black Americans (67%) favor allowing undocumented immigrants brought as children to the United States to gain legal status. Additionally, PRRI data from 2020 show that 80% of Black Americans agree with the statement that immigrants are hardworking, 78% agreed that immigrants have strong family values, and only 26% agreed with the statement that immigrants increase crime. Research from Jackson State’s Leniece Titani-Smith has shown that a majority of Black Protestants (both mainline and evangelical), as well as Black Catholics, believe that immigration benefits the nation, though Catholics are five times more likely to believe this. The authors conclude that broader anti-immigrant sentiment has infiltrated American evangelicalism and continues to make inroads among different racial and ethnic groups. They cite further data suggesting that race and political leanings are more important than religion in shaping Black attitudes toward immigration.

Surveillance and the Consequences of Perceiving Muslims as Anti-American

PRRI Public Fellows Saher Selod and Luis Romero write about the ongoing impact and effects of the September 11 attacks, specifically how Muslim, Arab, and South Asian communities continue to bear the brunt of discrimination and isolation. In their new spotlight analysis, they cite PRRI findings that people in these communities “are often seen as suspects or perceived as dangerous or terrorist threats by the American government and the larger U.S. population.” PRRI research also found that 50% of respondents last September agreed with the statement, “The values of Islam are at odds with American values and way of life.” Further, PRRI data found that 57% of respondents, when asked about the most important reason that the United States should not admit refugees from Syria, indicated that Syrians represent a threat to national security.

To illustrate the depths of discrimination American Muslims face, the authors note a case regarding government surveillance. The FBI recruited a fitness instructor to gather information on attendees of an Islamic center in Southern California under the guise of providing fitness programs. After a year of recording phone conversations with Muslims and not uncovering information, the informant changed tactics and expressed a false interest in jihad and “a desire to martyr himself.” The center’s members reported the informant to the FBI; the imam and members of the center subsequently filed a class-action lawsuit against the FBI in 2011 on the grounds of religious discrimination for spying on them. The case eventually went to the U.S. Supreme Court, “which unanimously voted to reverse the Court of Appeals ruling, siding with the FBI.” Thus, the FBI is “protected from litigation by Muslims for its tactics, leaving Muslims vulnerable to discriminatory policing and surveillance.”