Evangelicals and Donald Trump

A few years ago I wrote this about Barack Obama:

Obama may be the most explicitly Christian president in American history. If we analyze his language in the same way that historians examine the religious language of the Founding Fathers or even George W. Bush, we will find that Obama’s piety, use of the Bible, and references to Christian faith and theology put most other American presidents to shame on this front. I think there may be good reasons why some people will not vote for Obama in November, but his commitment to Christianity is not one of them.

As some of you know, I took some heat for these words.

I don’t know for sure, but I am guessing that some of the evangelicals who criticized me for my comments on Obama’s Christianity are now supporting Donald Trump for President of the United States.  

Does anyone see a problem with this?  Frank Bruni does.  Here is a taste of his column in yesterday’s The New York Times:

Let me get this straight. If I want the admiration and blessings of the most flamboyant, judgmental Christians in America, I should marry three times, do a queasy-making amount of sexual boasting, verbally degrade women, talk trash about pretty much everyone else while I’m at it, encourage gamblers to hemorrhage their savings in casinos bearing my name and crow incessantly about how much money I’ve amassed?

Seems to work for Donald Trump.

Polls show him to be the preferred candidate among not just all Republican voters but also the party’s vocal evangelical subset.

He’s more beloved than Mike Huckabee, a former evangelical pastor, or Ted Cruz, an evangelical pastor’s son, or Scott Walker, who said during the recent Republican debate: “It’s only by the blood of Jesus Christ that I’ve been redeemed.”

Read the rest here.

3 thoughts on “Evangelicals and Donald Trump

  1. This sounds more like reality.

    5. Who will you absolutely not vote for in the primaries? (Check as many as apply.)

    Bernie Sanders, 86.4%
    Hillary Clinton, 85.2%
    Martin O’Malley, 83.0%
    Donald Trump, 80.7%


    Rubio surges among evangelical insiders
    CAMPAIGN 2016 | Fiorina and Cruz also make gains, while Bush loses ground in WORLD’s latest survey
    Posted Aug. 27, 2015, 06:59 a.m.

    WASHINGTON—Strong debate performances catapulted Marco Rubio and Carly Fiorina forward by double-digit margins in the second WORLD evangelical insiders survey, while Jeb Bush slumped from second to fourth place.

    The findings are from a monthly survey of 103 evangelical leaders and insiders, 88 of whom participated in August (see note below). The results are not scientific or representative of all evangelicals, but they offer a snapshot of how a group of well-connected evangelicals are leaning in the 2016 election.

    This month, respondents shifted toward Sen. Rubio of Florida, whom 53 percent named as either their first or second choice—up from a combined 39 percent in July.


  2. Perhaps it's Obama's misuse of stuff like “brother's keeper,” two decades of attendance at wacko Rev. Jeremiah Wright's church, limitation of his Christian references to left-wing social gospel politics, and enthusiastic support of both abortion rights and later same-sex marriage that make many [conservative] Christians doubt Obama's religious bona fides.

    As for Trump and the evangelicals, much of Bruni's article admits that the polling on Trump is so imprecise it may be practically useless. If in reality he enjoys more like 15-20% support among Republicans, even if half the GOP vote is evangelical, that brings Trump in at 10% at best. Further, his support rises among infrequent voters, whom we might assume don't know much about Trump at this point, like never asking God for forgiveness. Also, there's a lot of “signalling” that goes on in these polls. People without a strong candidate preference might just want to give the finger to the powers that be.

    So there may not be much of a story here atall, which would make Bruni's swipe at “the most flamboyant, judgmental Christians in America” more hackwork than intelligent argument.

    Even as dozens of national and state polls have charted Mr. Trump’s steady ascent, Republican campaigns have taken solace in their conviction that those surveys are flawed and misleading. In interviews, campaign pollsters argue that such polls, conducted largely by media organizations and universities, rely on feedback from many Republicans who are unlikely to vote because the polls do not verify the party registration or voting history of respondents — a fact that those conducting the surveys concede.

    New data provided to The Times by Civis Analytics, a firm aligned with Democrats and founded by the former chief analytics officer of the Obama re-election campaign, shows that there is merit to those concerns, but not enough to call Mr. Trump’s lead into question. Curious about the Republican primary landscape, the firm decided to see what it could learn from its own survey, at first for internal research purposes.

    Unlike most public polls, Civis’s relied on a list of registered voters that included their voting histories, allowing it to measure Mr. Trump’s support among those who regularly cast ballots in primary elections.

    The survey, which was conducted on landlines Aug. 10 through Wednesday and has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus four percentage points, showed Mr. Trump’s support at 16 percent among registered voters who identified as Republicans. That tally is less than any public poll in more than a month, but still more than any other candidate. Ben Carson was at 11 percent, and Mr. Bush at 10 percent.

    A poll weighted to reflect the characteristics of the adult population, like most conducted for national media organizations, would have shown Mr. Trump faring some two points better than the Civis data, which was adjusted to reflect the characteristics of registered voters who identify as Republicans. The survey included 757 Republican-leaning respondents, considerably more than other polls of the Republican presidential field.

    “In reality his real support is less than what we see in the polling today,” said Masahiko Aida, lead survey scientist for Civis.

    The Civis poll also hinted at a potential problem for Mr. Trump: states that allow only registered Republicans to participate in nominating contests, including Iowa and Nevada. He was at 14 percent among registered Republicans in the states with party registration, compared to 18 percent of the voters who were unaffiliated with a party.

    As expected, Mr. Trump performed best among less-frequent voters. He had the support of 22 percent of Republican-leaning adults who did not vote in the 2012 general election. But he still held an edge, with 15 percent, among registered Republicans who had voted in a primary since 2008.

    “Whether the person voted in two or eight or 12 elections, Trump leads,” Mr. Aida said.


  3. I have been making similar points about Obama to my conservative Christian brothers in recent years (that his confession has been explicitly christian). But like many of the commenters in your original article, people seem to just right off what he has actually said and instead suggest that he must be a secret Muslim. Likewise, I guess these same people will suggest that Trump is a secret Christian believer.


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