As a political scientist, I think it’s important to try and explain this recent evangelical political behavior in the context of broader questions about our current political moment, and religion and politics. As a friendly observer of conservative evangelicalism, who thinks categorical support for Trump is both unwise and harmful for evangelicals in the long term, I think it’s even more important to understand the reasons for that support. After all, understanding why it happened is the first necessary step to persuade evangelicals that it’s ultimately self-defeating. So, as a political scientist and a friendly observer/participant, I’d like to offer a theory: Donald Trump appeared at a time during which many evangelicals’ rising expectations had turned, rather rapidly, into existential fear. Trump was uniquely positioned to exploit that moment and win over evangelicals. Yet while that support is very real, I also think it is shallower and more conditional than it appears.
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