Are the police killings of unarmed Black men isolated incidents?

This graph is from a June 2020 survey from the Public Religion Research Institute:

Here is Dawn Araujo-Hawkins at The Christian Century:

Two days before Rusten Sheskey, a White police officer in Kenosha, Wisconsin, fired seven shots into the back of Jacob Blake, a Black man, at close range while three of Blake’s young children watched, the Public Religion Research Institute published its latest report on racism and police brutality.

During a summer punctuated by White police officers gunning down Black body after Black body, PRRI found that most White Christians—across denominations—continued to see such shootings as isolated incidents.

Based on polling done in June, the majority of White mainline Protestants (53 percent), White Catholics (56 percent), and White evangelicals (72 percent) believe that when the police kill a Black man, it is not representative of a pattern in the way law enforcement treats Black people.

Read the entire piece here.

The “Fate of Pluralism” in America

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The Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI) has released a new study titled “American Democracy in Crisis: The Fate of Pluralism in a Divided Nation.”   Maxine Najle and Robert Jones are the authors.  Here are some of my quick takeaways:

  •  The number of white evangelicals who have a favorable view of Donald Trump was higher in 2018 than it was in 2016.  (It is, however, slightly down from 2017).
  • White evangelicals “remain the only major religious group in which a majority holds a favorable view of the president.”  For more on why I think this is the case, see my argument in Believe Me: The Evangelical Road to Donald Trump.
  • White Americans with a college degree (78%) are “substantially likelier than whites without a college degree (56%) to say they interact with someone who does not share their race or ethnicity at least once a week.”
  • “Fully half (50%) of religiously unaffiliated Americans say they interact with people who do not share their religious affiliation within their family, compared to 32% of white mainline Protestants, 30% of Catholics, 26% of nonwhite Protestants, and 25% of white evangelical Protestants.”  If I am reading this correctly, it appears that Protestants of all varieties (mainline, nonwhite and white evangelical) do not spend much time with family members who do not share their faith.   Religious faith trumps blood?
  • Americans are “most likely to view their interactions with people who do not share their political affiliation in a negative light.” There are “no significant differences between partisans on this question.”  This, of course, reveals the incivility of our political discourse in the United States.
  • Republicans are three times more likely as independents and Democrats “to say they would be unhappy if their child married someone of a different religious background.”  White evangelicals stand out among religious groups on this question by a significant margin over nonwhite Protestants, Catholics, and mainline white Protestants.
  • “When faced with the prospect of their child marrying someone who identifies with the opposite political party, Democrats are likelier than Republicans to say they would be unhappy.”  Interesting.
  • Nearly 30% of white evangelicals would “be unhappy if their son or daughter married a Democrat.”
  • 66% of white evangelicals would “be at least somewhat unhappy if their son or daughter married  someone of the same gender.”  Frankly, I thought this number would be higher.
  • 60% of white evangelicals prefer “a nation primarily made up of people who follow Christian faith.”  Only 8% of white evangelicals prefer a “nation made up of people belonging  to a wide variety of religions.”

There is a lot more here.

Evangelicals and Trump: The Latest Poll

Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump blows a kiss to supporters following a campaign rally in Akron

A poll conducted by Public Religion Research Institute and The Atlantic has much to say about white evangelicals in the United States.

  • 61% of evangelicals believe that the United States is moving in the right direction.  This compares to 64% of all Americans who believe that the United States is moving in the wrong direction.
  • 79% percent of white evangelicals believe “media bias” is hurting the country.  50% of religious unaffiliated people believe this.
  • 77% of white evangelicals view Trump favorably.   17% of non-white Protestants view Trump favorably.
  • 52% of white evangelicals feel negatively about the very real possibility that whites will be a minority in the United States by 2043.

On the last point: When Trump said last week that immigration was changing the “culture” of Europe, he was appealing to a significant portion of his evangelical base.

Here is a taste of Yonat Shimron’s article at Religion News Service:

“I argued that white evangelical voters have really shifted from being values voters to being what I call ‘nostalgia voters,’” said Jones. “They’re voting to protect a past view of America that they feel is slipping away. That’s driving evangelical politics much more than the old culture-war dynamics.”

Brantley Gasaway, a professor of American religious studies at Bucknell University in Lewisburg, Pa., said white evangelicals’ fears about the nation’s growing racial diversity might be linked to their perception of religious diversity.

“They perceive that America becoming less white means America will become less Christian,” he said. “I don’t think that’s true. Many Latino immigrants are coming from predominantly Christian nations. But they perceive changes in racial demographics as being a threat to the predominance of Christians in the United States.”

As a group, white evangelicals are declining. A decade ago they made up 23 percent of the U.S. population; today it’s more like 15 percent, Jones said. But they have an outsize influence at the ballot box because they tend to vote in high numbers.

The one area where religious groups appeared united is in their support for legislation that would make it easier to vote — measures such as same-day voter registration and restoring voting rights for people convicted of felonies.

Read the entire piece here.  Why do white evangelicals believe all these things?  I took a shot at explaining it here.

Trump’s Support Among White Evangelicals is Growing

Trump court evangelicals

PRRI reports:

White evangelical support for Donald Trump has steadily increased over time. Notably, Trump’s favorability among white evangelicals never reached 50 percent during the 2016 primary season. By the early fall of 2016, however, his favorability among white evangelicals had jumped to 61 percent. By the inauguration it increased to 68 percent, and shortly after the inauguration in February 2017 it jumped again to 74 percent. Over the course of 2017, there were minor fluctuations, but Trump’s favorability among white evangelicals never dipped below 65 percent during this time.

Trump’s support among white evangelicals at this stage of his presidency is strikingly solid. While there are modest differences by gender, Trump’s favorability among white evangelical women is still a robust 71 percent, compared to 81 percent among white evangelical men. And Trump’s favorability is still a strong 68 percent among college-educated white evangelicals, compared to 78 percent among those without a college degree.

Looking ahead to the 2020 election, Trump’s support among white evangelicals is also strong. White evangelical Protestants who identify with or lean toward the Republican Party say they would prefer Donald Trump, rather than another candidate, to be the GOP nominee for president in 2020 (69 percent vs. 23 percent).

Why do so many evangelicals “believe” Donald Trump?  I have actually thought about this a bit.  Just a bit.  Don’t forget to pre-order:

Believe Me Banner

 

A “massive religious realignment in America”

millennial;s

Over at Religion News Service, Jana Riess interviews Daniel Cox, research director at PRRI (Public Religion Research Institute), on a new study on the religious beliefs of Millennials and Generation Z.  The study is titled “Diversity, Division, Discrimination: The State of Young America.”

Here is what I learned from Jana’s interview:

  • Young people believe that Americans are more divided over politics than race or religion
  • Young people are not much different than older Americans on abortion, but on all other issues of human sexuality, including marriage, they are more liberal than older Americans.
  • Young people are much more tolerant of non-traditional families
  • Barack Obama is viewed favorably by young people, but less so among white young men
  • Only 25% of young people “have a favorable impression of Trump.”
  • Young people believe that Muslims in America are facing discrimination

Read the entire interview here.

Are White Evangelicals Declining or Not?

Evangelical Praise

This is about a month old, but I just came across Andrew R. Lewis and Ryan P. Burge‘s post challenging the findings of the Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI) about the decline of white evangelicals in America.

Here is a taste:

Last week, the Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI) released “America’s Changing Religious Identity” a report based on an aggregation of surveys of 101,000 Americans conducted during 2016. The headlines, plastered across news outlets such as The AtlanticUSA Today, and The Religion News Service, were that religion was on the decline. An op-ed by PRRI’s CEO Robert P. Jones in USA Todaywas more blunt, targeting white evangelicals and describing them as a “dying patient,” “fading,” and at the “end-of-life” after finding that they had declined six percentage points (23%-17%) in a decade (2006-2016). There is just one big problem: other prominent, longitudinal surveys do not corroborate the decline among evangelicals.

The framing of the USA Today op-ed overly sensationalized and perhaps mischaracterized the drop in evangelicals. Certainly evangelicals’ cultural power has been changing, as one of us has thoroughly documented in a new book, but they are not on their deathbed. Then Tobin Grant of Southern Illinois University, Carbondale tweeted data from the General Social Survey (GSS) showing virtually no change in white born-again self-identifiers over the past decade. We decided to probe further.

 

Read more here.

Evangelicals Have Suddenly Become More Forgiving of the Sins of Elected Officials

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First Baptist Church–Dallas

Hmm….  I wonder what explains this?

Back in 2011, the Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI) asked voters if “an elected official who commits and immoral act in their personal life can still behave ethically and fulfill their duties in their public and professional life.”

In 2011, evangelical Christians were the least forgiving.

In October 2016, when PRRI asked the same question, evangelical Christians were the most forgiving.  In other words “white evangelicals went from being the least likely to the most likely group to agree that a candidate’s personal immorality has no bearing on his performance in public office.”

PRRI CEO Robert P. Jones calls this “a head-spinning reversal.”

I’m not sure how “head-spinning” this is.  Seems pretty par for the course.  Just ask Dr. James Dobson and Dr. Wayne Grudem.

Read all about it in this piece at The New York Times.

Will a Post-Religious World Be an Improvement?

Church

Writing at The Week, Damon Linker is not so sure.

Here is a taste of his reflection on some recent polling data suggesting Christianity is in decline in America:

Liberals tend to assume that those who have left religious traditions and institutions behind will end up being … secular liberals, which is to say paragons (in their own eyes) of liberal tolerance and moral virtue. But not only is this belied by the occasionally harsh anti-religious fervor of many secular liberal pundits and public officials. It’s also contradicted by the rise of the post-religious right.

There is no guarantee at all that those who leave religious institutions and traditions behind will end up on the liberal left. As Trump’s strong support in the GOP primaries among non-religious Republicans attests, a significant number of the post-religious (especially those who are less well educated) could well end up on the nationalist alt-right.

Ross DouthatPeter Beinart, and The Week’s own Pascal-Emmanuel Gobryhave all noted the ominous emergence of a post-religious right, and have made the point that the left’s most vociferous critics of the old religious right (of which I was once one) may well end up ruing the decline and fall of their former opponents.

A post-religious America will be very different from the country we’ve known up until quite recently. Not all (or even many) of the changes will be improvements.

Read the entire piece here.

The End of the “Moral Majority”

Jones WhiteI just finished Robert P. Jones‘s book The End of White Christian America.  Jones is the CEO of Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI).  It provides survey data that confirms what a lot of us have thought for several years: the number of white evangelicals in the United States is declining.

The last chapter of The End of White Christian America deals with the Donald Trump campaign and presidency.  Jones argues that Trump may be white evangelicals’ last great attempt to win the culture wars.  When the age of Trump is over there will not be enough white evangelicals in America for the Christian Right to make political gains.

I wonder.  Have evangelicals over the past fifty years been so busy fighting the culture wars and pursuing political power that they have failed to bring more white men and women into the fold through evangelization?  Have they invested so much time in politics that they have not cultivated the spiritual and moral lives of young people in a way that keeps them in the church?  Just a few thoughts.  Feel free to run with them.

Over at USA Today, Jones reflects on the latest PRRI study on white evangelicalism.  Here is a taste:

But one of the most important findings of our survey is that as the country has crossed the threshold from being a majority white Christian country to a minority white Christian country, white evangelical Protestants have themselves succumbed to the prevailing winds and in turn contributed to a second wave of white Christian decline in the country. Over the past decade, white evangelical Protestants have declined from 23% to 17% of Americans.

 

During this same period, the proportion of religiously unaffiliated Americans has grown from 16% to 24%.

The engines of white evangelical decline are complex, but they are a combination of external factors, such as demographic change in the country as a whole, and internal factors, such as religious disaffiliation — particularly among younger adults who find themselves at odds with conservative Christian churches on issues like climate change and lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights. As a result, the median age of white evangelical Protestants is now 55, and the median age of religiously unaffiliated Americans is 37. While 26% of seniors (65 and older) are white evangelicals, only 8% of Americans younger than 30 claim this identity.

The evangelical alliance with Trump can be understood only in the context of these fading vital signs among white evangelicals. They are, in many ways, a community grieving its losses. After decades of equating growth with divine approval, white evangelicals are finding themselves on the losing side of demographic changes and LGBT rights, one of their founding and flagship issues.

In the 1980s, a term such as “the moral majority” had a certain plausibility. Today, such a sweeping claim would be met with a mountain of counter evidence from public opinion polls, progressive religious voices, changing laws and court decisions.

Read the entire piece here.

Read the very revealing PRRI report here.