Evangelicals Love Trump’s “National Emergency” Declaration

Border WallPerhaps you have seen the new NPR/PBS/Marist Poll on Americans reaction to Trump’s declaration of a “national emergency” on the Mexican border. I used this poll to begin my lecture yesterday at the University of Southern California.  If you haven’t seen it yet, here are a few things worth noting:

  • 61% of all Americans disapprove of Trump’s decision to declare a national emergency.  36% approve.
  • But only 26% of white evangelicals disapprove of Trump’s decision to declare a national emergency.   67% approve


  • 39% of Americans believe that there is a national emergency at the Mexican border.  58% of Americans do not believe this.
  • But 70% of white evangelicals believe that there is a national emergency at the Mexican border.  22% of white evangelicals do not believe this.


  • 36% of Americans believe that Trump is “properly using” his presidential powers by declaring a national emergency on the border.  57% do not.
  • But 69% of white evangelicals believe that Trump is “properly using” his presidential powers by declaring a national emergency on the border.  23% do not.


  • 54% of Americans said that they are “less likely” to vote for Trump in 2020 because he has declared a national emergency to build a border wall.  33% of Americans said they were more “likely” to vote for Trump because of the national emergency and the wall.  12% of Americans said the wall will not make any difference in how they vote in 2020.
  • Only 22% of white evangelicals said that they are “less likely” to vote for Trump in 2020 because he has declared a national emergency to build a border wall.  60% said they are more likely to vote for Trump in 2020 because he wants to build a border wall.  15% of white evangelicals said the wall will not make any difference in how they vote in 2020.

These are very revealing statistics.  They tell us a lot about white evangelicals today.  Why are they so supportive of Trump’s national emergency and his border wall and why are they so out of step with the rest of the American population?  Read the report here and draw your own conclusions.

As I argued in Believe Me: The Evangelical Road to Donald Trump, white evangelicals are fearful that their white Christian nation is eroding and they believe Trump’s immigration policies are the best way to save it.

Thanks to John Haas for calling this poll to my attention.

Believe Me 3d

9 thoughts on “Evangelicals Love Trump’s “National Emergency” Declaration

  1. Yes, white evangelicals are living in a bubble of delusion, but is it really so hard to believe? When you live in a world of raptures and tribulations and magical thinking about sacred texts, it is easier to immerse yourself in a bubble of self-validating fantastical beliefs, where you and your culture are the center of the universe, and any impingement or infringement on your ideological fantasies are easily interpreted as an attack on all that is sacred and safe about the universe. The brighter evangelical delusions shine in the political arena, the closer evangelical fantasticalism brings us to to the edge of autocracy, the more evangelicals allow themselves to be led down the rabbit hole of pseudo religious commitment to a political culture, the harder it is to treat evangelical culture as a socially acceptable way of being in the world. I wish it were not so.


    • Just wondering: does your screed about fantasies and delusions and magical thinking about sacred texts apply to devout Muslims? Jews? Hindus? Heck, black evangelicals? (Or just the icky white ones?)

      Please let us know what other religious faiths you deem socially unacceptable.


        • Your response is curious, John. I’m simply trying to discern whether Justin’s garden variety mockery of all those “magical thinkers”
          is equal opportunity. I suspect it is not, but I could be wtong. I have no idea how that is “whataboutism.” Are you saying that we should limit the scope of our discussion to the themes in your book?


      • Hi Tony, thank you for your super reasonable question.

        Magical and delusional thinking is totally fine until it becomes the basis for public policy in a democratic republic. Then someone has to stand up and pop the bubble of delusion so that it doesn’t lead everyone else into a ditch. Willful blindness is fine in any religious tradition, but the the blind still shouldn’t lead the blind.

        I spoke specifically about evangelical delusion because it is evangelical delusion that gave us Donald Trump, because he is totally unscrupulous about exploiting undereducated naivety and pairing it with racist nationalism. He doesn’t care how he is affecting evangelicalism or Christianity or America in the long term. He only cares about putting his name in the history books at any cost.


        • Justin,
          The racist charges against Trump are starting to wear thin. These allegations have yet to be documented by the DEMs and have the same questionable basis as the Jussie Smollett racist charges we are now seeing in Chicago. The use by the DEMs of the so-called race card might be compared to a football coach who has one good play he can call. It has worked for him in the past so he just keeps doing it even though the opposing team has figured it out and the fans have tired of it.

          As far as magical and delusional thinking, I can’t see a connection between Christian belief in the supernatural and the public policy of the Trump administration. I don’t presume to know what your religious beliefs are, Justin, but most religions evoke numinous feelings.


        • “Magical and delusional thinking is totally fine until it becomes the basis for public policy in a democratic republic.”

          Pace James’s comment, please identify which policy or policies of the Trump administration emanate from magical theocratic urges. From my vantage point, it’s been pretty standard fare for a R administration (except for the ill-advised protectionism, which will produce long term pain), but perhaps you have identified a specific policy — I dunno, The Wall? The infernal tweeting? — which goes beyond the usual ideological disagreements between progressives and conservatives over how the nation should be governed.

          Further, using your handy guiding principle above, can I assume you vehemently oppose — indeed, reject as dangerous, (secular) faith-based bushwah — the Green New Deal? When it comes to blindly marching lockstep into ditches, the GND stands as the current locus classicus of hallucinatory, quasi-religious texts. Had the Trump administration proposed something so patently absurd, it would have been justly pilloried by all serious people. It appears that certain “bubbles of delusion” are more equal — more unassailably woke — than others.


          • James and Tony,

            You both seem very eager to change the subject, introduce false parallels, or twist my words into new and strange meanings. The Smollett case is a good example; the Green New Deal is another–neither of those things have any bearing on the evangelical alliance that voted Trump into office (and without which he would not have been voted into office!) Neither do those things have any bearing on my observation that living in a bubble of shared religious delusions makes one prone to obvious manipulation by unscrupulous outsiders (like court evangelicals or charlatan politicians).

            Similarly, I didn’t say that Trump explicitly makes policy based on evangelical faith. BUT I would indeed say that he makes largely symbolic gestures in order to appease the religious leanings of the evangelical alliance he needs to remain loyal to him–for example attacking planned parenthood to appease the anti-abortion crowd, or pretend-nullifying the Johnson Amendment so that churches will become more explicitly political without risking their tax-exempt status. If you don’t see how Trump panders to the religious right… well, I certainly can’t make you open your eyes. He doesn’t care about religion at all, but he wants the votes of religious people, and he will pull whatever levers and push whatever buttons necessary to get those votes.

            Both your reactions are prime examples of whataboutism, as Dr. Fea already objected to. You’re flatly wrong and have no standing, so you change the subject and the boundaries of the conversation by pointing at other things that make you feel better about continuing to live in political and cultural delusion. A therapist might call your reactions a form of rationalization. It’s like you’ve committed to an abusive relationship and are working to maintain the lie that it’s healthy or okay because you can’t bear the shame of your commitments and judgment failing catastrophically in the public eye. But everyone else already sees it.

            Let me put it like this: the thing about evangelicals is that when evangelicals send their people to defend Trump or advise Trump, they’re not sending their best. They’re sending people that have lots of problems, and they’re bringing those problems with them. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people.

            If that offends you as evangelicals, then you know why people say Donald Trump is racist, because that’s how he talks about Mexicans.

            Very warm regards,


            • Thanks for this reply, Justin. James and Tony are the kings of “whataboutism.” They seem incapable of engaging with an argument without bringing up Obama or the liberal media.


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