More on Whether or Not Christian Colleges Were Behind the Evangelical Support of Trump

Boyer Hall

My response to SUNY-Binghamton education professor Adam Laats’s piece at History News Network has garnered some interesting conversation on Twitter.  Follow me at @johnfea1 to get up to speed.

Some tweeters are defending my original posts.  Others think Laats is on to something. And still others are taking this opportunity to talk about how they had bad experiences at Christian colleges in a way that has nothing to do with the original question that Laats posed.

A few tweeters wanted something more than anecdotal evidence to support my claim that evangelical Christian colleges are not to blame for Trump.  Chris Gehrz, aka The Pietist Schoolman, heard the call and tried to crunch some numbers.  It turns out that support for the GOP candidate in precincts that include a Christian college was often weaker in 2016 than in 2012.

Read his entire report here.  If you are interested in this question it is definitely worth your time.

A few of my own takeaways:

  • At Liberty University, support for the GOP candidate was down from 2012 and support for third party candidates was up.
  • In a central Pennsylvania region that went heavily for Trump, the precinct that contains Messiah College was an island of Hillary supporters.  In fact, support for the GOP candidate in this precinct went down over 18% between 2012 and 2016 and support for the Democratic candidate went up almost 9%. (Cumberland County, where Messiah College is located, went 57% for Trump and 38% for Hillary).
  • As Gehrz recently wrote on his Facebook page, the two biggest drops in support for the GOP candidate among Christian college precincts in MN, VA, PA, and OH came in the precincts for Gehrz’s school (Bethel University) and my school (Messiah College).

None of these statistics surprise me.  Nor does Gehrz’s conclusions.

I want to close this post by reiterating something that I said in my original post.  Christian colleges are not to blame for Trump because most evangelicals do not attend or support Christian colleges, especially those Christian colleges that are members of the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities.  As I argued in the original post (with the help of a link to a 2005  Books and Culture piece by Allen Guelzo), Christian college students and faculty make-up a very small slice of the evangelical pie in America.

Wheaton College political scientist Bryan McGaw probably put it best:

 

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