Trump's Leadership During COVID Strengthening His Standing with Evangelicals
President Donald Trump’s leadership during the COVID-19 pandemic appears to be strengthening his standing among Christians, which is not surprising given how he has placed faith front and center during the crisis and has been a strong voice for religious liberty.
White evangelicals, in particular, have been among Trump’s strongest supporters.
According to exit polling, Trump enjoyed 81 percent backing among “white born again/evangelical Christians” in the 2016 presidential election.
However, last October, during the heat of the impeachment fury, Fox News released a poll showing 28 percent of white evangelicals wanted him impeached and removed from office.
But by March of this year, Pew Research reported 78 percent of white evangelicals approved of the president’s job performance.
More anecdotally, a newly released — and unscientific — My Faith Votes online survey shows that 61 percent of all self-identified Christians say Trump’s stature with them has improved during coronavirus outbreak.
The survey was conducted during the last week in March among over 10,000 people, according to My Faith Votes, which describes itself as a “nonpartisan voter mobilization group.”
“This survey tells us three things,” Jason Yates, CEO of My Faith Votes, said in a news release. “First, most Christians are reassured by President Trump’s leadership during the coronavirus crisis and, secondly, Christians have a decidedly lower view of Democrats.
“And third, Christians are turning to their faith in extraordinary ways during this time of uncertainty.”
In an email to The Western Journal, a representative of My Faith Votes described the survey as a “gauge” of Christian voters’ views.
Those polled came from every state in the country and the District of Columbia, according to demographic information provided to The Western Journal.
The top three states represented in the survey by percentage were the nation’s most populous — California, Texas and Florida — with the rest of the states’ participation levels falling more or less in population rank order.
Gary Bauer — president of American Values, whom Trump appointed to the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom — pegs the chief executive’s strengthened position among evangelicals to his willingness to exhort people to pray during the crisis and his steadfast support for religious liberty.
“I’m not surprised at all the president’s standing among evangelical men and women of faith has gone up during this terrible ordeal,” Bauer said.
“Not only is he showing leadership but the president has on a number of occasions issued calls for the nation to pray during the crisis and regularly spoken up, as has the attorney general, for religious liberty and how it needs to be protected even in a time of trouble like this,” the Christian leader added.
One example of Trump calling the country to prayer was during an Oval Office event on Good Friday last month.
“Though we will not be able to gather together with one another as we normally would on Easter, we can use this sacred time to focus on prayer, reflection and growing in our personal relationship with God, so important,” the president said.
Trump then introduced a member of the clergy — Bishop Harry Jackson of Hope Christian Fellowship in Beltsville, Maryland — who prayed for the nation.
Bauer observed the event demonstrated that “the president really understands American Christians and evangelicals.”
Vice President Mike Pence, who is forthright about his Christian faith, has no doubt helped foster this understanding in Trump, the former Reagan White House chief domestic policy adviser added.
“I think the president understands our religious roots and understands we can be a diverse and tolerant country while still recognizing openly our Christian roots,” Bauer said.
In mid-March, Trump also issued a proclamation calling for a national day of prayer regarding the coronavirus outbreak.
The proclamation said, in part, “In our times of greatest need, Americans have always turned to prayer to help guide us through trials and periods of uncertainty. …
“As your President, I ask you to pray for the health and well-being of your fellow Americans and to remember that no problem is too big for God to handle. We should all take to heart the holy words found in 1 Peter 5:7: ‘Casting all your care upon him, for he careth for you.’
“Let us pray that all those affected by the virus will feel the presence of our Lord’s protection and love during this time. With God’s help, we will overcome this threat.”
Bauer said that as the legal battles over religious liberty, primarily between Democratic governors and Christian congregations, continue to play out, Trump’s standing among evangelicals will only gain momentum.
In a Fox News virtual town hall on Sunday night, the president was asked when churches would be able to reopen.
“I hope it’s going to be very soon, because I’m seeing things I don’t like seeing,” Trump replied. “I see some churches — they are literally staying in their car with the window closed. … And they were getting arrested. … I’m saying, ‘Why can’t they do that?'”
He added, “I will say this: It’s wonderful to watch people over a laptop, but it’s not like being at a church. And we have to get our people back to churches, and we’re going to start doing it soon.”
The Pew Research survey published in March found that 81 percent of white evangelical Protestants think that Trump “fights for what I believe in.”
Among Catholics, the number was also a strong 66 percent.
Latest figures on approval of Trump by religion:
White evangelical Protestants 79%
White non-evangelical Protestants 60%
Religiously unaffiliated 31%
Black Protestants 18%https://t.co/JZQ1Hc85Md pic.twitter.com/uXEbwW4ivv
— Pew Research Religion (@PewReligion) March 27, 2020
Trump had lost some ground with evangelicals by last fall, but it looks like they’re coming back, because they see in the president a leader who respects and honors their faith.
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