An extensive new Public Religion Research Institute survey demonstrates that white evangelical Protestants are largely aligned with Donald Trump’s immigration positions and overarching pessimism about the future of the country. At Religion Dispatches, the University of Pennsylvania’s Dr. Anthea Butler breaks down the most noteworthy results:
The group with the most fatalistic view of American cultural change are white evangelical Protestants, three quarters of whom (74%) say that American culture has changed for the worse since 1950.
A majority of Republicans (55%) believe that America is so off track that we need a leader who is willing to “break the rules,” while 57% of Democrats disagree with that statement.
A majority of white Americans say that Donald Trump is the most trustworthy candidate in the 2016 election (54%) while Blacks and Hispanics say that Hillary Clinton is the most trustworthy candidate (71% and 59% respectively).
Among Americans as a whole Hillary Clinton is perceived to have much stronger religious beliefs than Donald Trump (50% v. 36%), though white evangelical Protestants say that Trump has much stronger religious beliefs (58% vs 28%)
Most Americans reject banning Muslims from the United States (56%), yet a sizable minority (43%) express support for some kind of ban. A Majority of white evangelical Protestants (62%) and white mainline Protestants (54%) favor the temporary ban. White Catholics are split evenly.
The majority of Hispanic Catholics (62%), black Protestants (68%), members of non-Christian religions (70%) and religiously unaffiliated Americans (74%) reject the ban on Muslims in the United States.
These results won’t surprise anyone who’s followed the election closely. Donald Trump’s appeal is largely nostalgic, embraced by voters privileged enough to have prospered in a less diverse America. For these white Americans, their self-identification as evangelicals functions as a statement of racial identity as well as a statement of faith. When they say they want to keep America moral, they mean they want to keep it culturally “pure.”
“The upshot of this survey is that white evangelicals want to go back to Ozzie and Harriet—in time, behavior, and gender roles,” Butler writes.
It’s a definitive answer to a common question this election cycle: Evangelicals are voting for Donald Trump, moral failings and all, because they agree with him.