Why Did Christians in the “Red States” Vote for Trump?

Red StateA new book by Lutheran minister Angela Denker seeks to answer this question in her new book Red State Christians: Understanding the Voters Who Elected Donald Trump.

Here is a taste of her recent interview with Joseph Preville at World Religion News:

JRP: How diverse are Red-State Christians in their religious beliefs and political values?

AD: Quite diverse, though I will say that they were unified by a distinct dislike of Hillary Clinton that often surpassed their admiration for Trump. They were also diverse in the extent to which their Christianity influenced their vote. Many voters, especially in the rural Midwest and Appalachia – still theoretically sought to keep what they heard and believed and church separate from their decisions in the voting booth and what they heard on the news.  However, I distinctly found in Southern Baptist congregations, especially across the South, an unqualified embrace of Christian nationalism that led to a unique embrace of Trump and the Republican Party.

JRP: What is the “shared language” between Donald Trump and Red-State Christians?

AD: A man who worked in a steel mill in Appalachia told me how frustrating his career was because the company had been outsourced. Instead of a local family running things, the owner’s son had moved operations. Now they got their checks from New Jersey instead of the local bank. It was clear that he preferred the local owner to the distant one. I compare that to many Red-State Christians’ embrace of Trump. Yes, he is often wealthier than them – but he’s “their rich guy.” He eats Taco Bell on Cinco de Mayo, he’s slightly overweight and his suits don’t fit right, he spells words wrong, he curses, he’s “politically incorrect.” Trump has an instinctual knack for speaking in ways that make people who are very different than him feel as if they’re close to him, such as the times he served fast food to championship athletes: food many Red-State Christians would connect with their day-to-day lives as well.

Read the entire interview here.

12 thoughts on “Why Did Christians in the “Red States” Vote for Trump?

  1. Though I think it’s more Fear than hatred.
    Remember the opening theme to All in the Family?
    The world has changed, a lot of that change is to their disadvantage, and they are afraid of being rolled over by the Other in a Zero-Sum Game. This not only applies to Red State Christians, but to Red State/Flyover Country (“Jesusland”) in general. I live in a region where the Left Coast (Bluer than Blue)butts up against the Far West (traditional Red), and the former has been in charge and sneering at the stupid redneck latter for so long the resentment has built to critical mass. And it boiled over in 2016.


  2. Your record is of spouting right wing talking points as “the truth” and then being impervious to factual information. Your concern isn’t about informing it’s about announcing your political agenda.


  3. Basically, she says, they support Trump out of fear and hatred.

    The core of evangelical Christianity is fear of change and hatred toward anyone who thinks differently.


  4. Jim in STL,

    Angela Denker is an unknown quantity for most readers. Her readership deserves to know something about “where she is coming from” as the current vernacular would tell us. I can’t understand why that is an example of “poisoning the well.” It might actually gain her a few more readers from the religious left. “Amen, Sister Angela. Keep on preachin’ the word.”

    It was interesting that you did not dispute Tony’s point about Eric Metaxas. Mr. Metaxas is a known quantity to readers of religious works. Ms. Denker is not; accordingly, her readers should be aware of her book’s roots. Why are you opposed to factual background statements?



  5. Tony, I am currently reading a book titled, The Founding Myth: Why Christian Nationalism is UnAmerican” by Andrew Seidel (2019), an attorney for the Freedom From Religion Foundation. I recently came across a review and critique of that work by Mark David Hall titled, “Unlearning “The Founding Myth,” which is available online, and is the author of the upcoming book “Did America Have a Christian Founding?: Separating Modern Myth from Historical Truth” (available in October). Hall is “Herbert Hoover Distinguished Professor of Politics and Faculty Fellow in the William Penn Honors Program at George Fox University” according to an on-line bio. Hall is not sympathetic to Seidel’s thesis and I knew that before reading his review.

    I am in the process of seriously assessing both.

    So yes, I may have suspected bias from Hall but I didn’t know and my first impulse was to read and understand his work and apply it, as appropriate, to the work that he critiqued before rushing online to gush a bunch of well-poisoning BS in an attempt to discredit the work.


  6. Jim: are we to understand that you would approach the imaginary book “Why Did Christians in the Blue States Vote for Hillary?”, authored by, say, Eric Metaxas, with a completely open mind, with no initial reservations about the writer’s influences, his well-documented political or theological leanings? And if you did have such qualms, you would sternly reprove yourself for this unwarranted expectation bias that taints the well water?

    If you say so.


  7. Jim in STL,

    Ha ha. Good post for this morning’s humor! Seriously.

    But did I state that the book was necessarily inaccurate? The only purpose of the post was to alert readers to POSSIBLE bias. Please reread my comments. You do believe in “truth in lending”, do you not?



  8. I am shocked! Shocked I tells ya! James has a strongly-held opinion on something with which he states that he knows nothing about. Shocked! And surprise!d Surprised that he goes directly to poisoning the well. Surprised I tells ya. (file under standard methodology)


  9. Can we expect a lot of objectivity from this book? I will withhold final judgement since I have not read it, but let’s list a few possible factors which might give us cause to question the author’s possible bias.
    —Published by Fortress Press, an organ for Mainline Protestant liberal theology.
    —Written by a female cleric within the ultra liberal and numerically dying ELCA.
    —-Written by an author who has had past association with Red Letter Christians, a postmodernist
    amalgam of nonorthodox religious provocateurs.

    On the positive side, the author does seem to have actually traveled and interviewed people in order to garner material for her book. Whether or not she condescendingly viewed her subjects as curious relics from the movie DELIVERANCE or from television’s ALL IN THE FAMILY should be open to fair analysis.


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