Donald Trump and the Evangelical Support

Posted on December 12, 2016 by

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Giselle Bergmeier

The purpose of this post is to analyze several articles over one event, mine being, how evangelicals were portrayed in this election cycle through different articles on different websites. Using logical reasoning to analyze the meaning of each article chosen, I have constructed an idea of why evangelicals voted the way they did while not using history to back up what evangelicals have meant in an election before this one. There will only be a comparison of what the article’s conflict and resolutions are between each.

One word you might not associate with Evangelicals all the time but might want to soon, Supreme Court. One big way that Donald Trump has taken the evangelical vote under his wing, according to the articles I analyzed, was convincing this block of voters that he would appoint Supreme Court justices aligning with their viewpoints. Fitting the mold of Antonin Scalia , a New York Times article suggests. More commonly, throughout several articles the word abortion was used to cite why evangelicals have chosen to vote for Donald Trump. A fivethirtyeight article labeled abortion a social issue most evangelicals feel very strongly about. A New York Times article cited tax dollars as the reason evangelicals feel so strongly about voting for Donald Trump, simply he wouldn’t use them. Knowing Hillary Clinton would appoint “anti-ethical” justices and care about abortion rights was also too much for some voters. One article chose to forgo the term abortion and instead use the entire supreme court case Roe v. Wade as the promise they were given by Trump to throw out the case. Another article simply quipped the appointing of Supreme Court justices that oppose abortion as a reason evangelicals would vote for Donald Trump. Christianity Today, however, felt the complete opposite of all of the above articles. As part of a Life Way Research poll, they found that evangelicals were not voting for Trump because of this stance on Supreme Court justices but in fact voting for him because of national security and the economy. They even go a step further saying that, who could fix the economy is definitely the number one reason evangelicals are choosing who they are choosing. There could be several reasons why this research came out differently than the rest of the articles, the main reason probably being that Life Way Research did not do the same type of surveying that the rest of the more reputable sources like the New York Times did.

Another slightly less mentioned but still popular reason why evangelicals said that Supreme Court judge appointments meant a lot to them was same-sex marriage. Not to be confused with passing same sex marriage, evangelicals wanted someone that would appoint judges with the possibility of overturning the Supreme Court decision to legalize marriage between the same gender. Along with overturning the Supreme Court rulings, just knowing that the Clinton administration would further expand the rights of the gay and transgender communities added another reason for evangelicals to vote for Donald Trump.

This also leads to another point, exactly what is the modern definition of an evangelical?  The Bible, the crucifixion of Jesus, salvation, and evangelism is one definition. The word “white” seems to also come up as a huge part of the evangelical definition. (1, 2, 3, 4, 5) This presents a problem because the term white is not the only make-up of an evangelical. According to a poll done by Life Way Research, cited in an article on Christianity Today, said that 62% of evangelicals who are African American, Hispanic American, or Asian America favored Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump, a far cry from what the white evangelical supported which may be causing a split in the traditional definition of an evangelical, a white, suburban, American, Southern, and Republican. A leader of a black Christian Coalition said that he felt that since the white half of evangelicals were supporting Donald Trump, the concerns of evangelical minorities are not understood. In an opinion piece published by The Washington Post, the author, Colbert I. King points to a prayer that he was trying to focus on with the impending election, “Open wide the eyes of my soul that I may see good in all things,” he comments that remembering this prayer is a tough objective, something most of the other articles have suggested.

Another thought on the forefront of some peoples minds and is highlighted in some articles is how an evangelical can still support Donald Trump with remarks he has made on various topics on several occasions. At one point in the presidential campaign audio recordings were released which showed Donald Trump saying that it was okay to sexually assault women amongst other things. These tapes in the long run made almost no impact on Trump’s campaign, especially with the evangelicals according to this Huffington Post article. Some evangelicals just accepted that Trump was just as much a sinner as the rest of us so it wasn’t a big deal. However, in a contrasting Huffington Post article, Donald Trump said on a separate occasion, “Why do I have to repent, why do I have to ask for forgiveness if [I’m] not making mistakes?” The article counters with a quote by someone that all evangelicals believe in, Jesus, “I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.” The first article is assuming that like the rest of evangelicals, Donald Trump repents his sins and asks for forgiveness, the second article calls into question if Trump ever really thinks he does anything worth having to ask for forgiveness for. An article published on The Daily Beast brings in another perspective concerning Donald Trump and evangelical women. Beth Moore, a powerful evangelical leader, who is a women, was appalled at her male counterparts for their quick dismissal of the remarks made by Trump. The article continues to reason that these remarks show a divided evangelical gender gap in this election. In an article published post election, The Atlantic reported that despite what Beth Moore was concerned with, evangelicals overwhelming supported Donald Trump. With the acceptance of the overwhelming support however, this article does point to the same issue Moore was concerned with, the fact that some leaders including herself plus evangelical minorities felt that Donald Trump was a bigot ( A New York Times article also references Jen Hatmaker, a religious women leader, using bigot to describe Trump.) and existential threat, another article says some evangelical leaders also called Mr. Trump someone who fuels white American nationalism with xenophobic appeals, among other things. Unlike many other presidential elections, so many evangelical leaders decided not to endorse the republican nominee, come out and support him, or come out and condemn him, rather than be unified as one evangelical group.

Throughout these articles you can see a conflict between ideas and what the group of evangelicals stood for in this election, almost all siding with Donald Trump. A conclusion can be made that the evangelical vote has changed and does not necessarily always vote toward a specific candidate. Rather, the policy of the party they are running for is the main component, supporting what they believe will make America great again.

 

Bibliography:

Blumburg, A. (2016) Why White Evangelicals Still Support Trump In Spite Of Everything, retrieved December 12, 2016, http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/heres-why-white-evangelicals-still-support-trump-in-spite-of-everything_us_5807ce8be4b0180a36e86259

Chideya, F. (2016). Evangelicals, Once Skeptical Of Trump, Have Rallied To His Side. Retrieved December 12, 2016, from http://fivethirtyeight.com/features/evangelicals-have-rallied-to-trumps-side/

DuBois, J. (n.d.). Retrieved December 12, 2016, from http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2016/10/10/beth-moore-the-christian-women-speaking-out-about-trump-s-bad-news.html

Foley, E. (2016). Evangelical Leaders Don’t Want Trump To Win: The ‘Integrity Of Our Faith Hangs In The Balance Retrieved December 12, 2016, from http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/evangelical-leaders-donald-trump_us_57f7b304e4b068ecb5ddc355

Goodstein, L. (2016). Donald Trump Reveals Evangelical Rifts That Could Shape Politics for Years. Retrieved December 12, 2016, from http://www.nytimes.com/2016/10/17/us/donald-trump-evangelicals-republican-vote.html

Goodstein, L. (2016). Religious Right Believes Donald Trump Will Deliver on His Promises. Retrieved December 12, 2016, from http://www.nytimes.com/2016/11/12/us/donald-trump-evangelical-christians-religious-conservatives.html

H. (n.d.). Latest Survey: Most Evangelicals Are Not Voting Trump. Retrieved December 12, 2016, from http://www.christianitytoday.com/gleanings/2016/october/most-evangelicals-not-voting-trump-beliefs-identity-lifeway.html

Johnson, A. (2016). What’s behind evangelical support for Donald Trump? Less than you think. Retrieved December 12, 2016, from http://www.nbcnews.com/politics/2016-election/what-s-behind-evangelical-support-donald-trump-less-you-think-n666146

Kuruvilla, C. (2016) 10 Donald Trump Quotes That Should Horrify His Evangelical Supporters, retrieved December 12, 2016, http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/donald-trump-vs-jesus-christ_us_5798e188e4b0d3568f85724a

(n.d.). Retrieved December 12, 2016, from http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2016/11/the-evangelical-reckoning-on-trump/507161/

Struggling to keep faith during a revolting election season. (n.d.). Retrieved December 12, 2016, from https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/struggling-to-keep-faith-during-a-revolting-election-season/2016/10/28/2f084404-9c79-11e6-b3c9-f662adaa0048_story.html

White evangelicals voted overwhelmingly for Donald Trump, exit polls show. (n.d.). Retrieved December 12, 2016, from https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/acts-of-faith/wp/2016/11/09/exit-polls-show-white-evangelicals-voted-overwhelmingly-for-donald-trump/

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