White Evangelicals Are Trump's Strongest Supporters, Survey Shows

More than any other religious group, a strong majority of white evangelical Protestants hold a positive view of President Donald Trump, according to a new survey. They are also the only religious group to to favor the temporary ban on immigrants from seven Muslim-majority countries.

(Photo: REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque)U.S. President Donald Trump gives his supporters a thumbs up he spoke at the Conservative Political Action Conference, or CPAC, in Oxon Hill in Maryland, U.S., February 24, 2017.

According to the Public Religion Research Institute report, 74 percent of white Evangelical Protestants view Trump positively. Other white Christian groups, including 55 percent of white Catholics and 53 percent of white mainline Protestants, also hold favorable view of the Republican president. Meanwhile, non-white Christians and other religious groups have a more negative view of Trump.

Fewer than one-third of non-white Protestants (31 percent), religiously unaffiliated Americans (31 percent), members of non-Christian religions (26 percent), and Hispanic Catholics (25 percent) report a positive view of Trump, the report noted.

"No religious group views the current president more negatively than Americans who belong to non-Christian traditions—a group that includes Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus, and others—more than seven in ten (71 percent) have an unfavorable opinion of Trump," PRRI reported.

Overall, half of all Americans hold an unfavorable view of Trump and 43 percent share a favorable impression of him.

Among political groupings, 87 percent of Republicans say they back Trump while 83 percent of Democrats hold a negative view of the U.S. president.

When it comes to Trump's blocked attempts to temporarily ban immigrants from seven Muslim-majority countries, only 35 percent of the public agree with such a move, while 59 percent oppose a ban of that nature.

Though many evangelicals have expressed opposition to the immigration order, the PRRI report shows that overall, 61 percent of white evangelical Protestants support the temporary ban. Only 44 percent of white Catholics and 39 percent of white mainline Protestants approve of it.

Even fewer non-white Protestants (27%) and religiously unaffiliated Americans (21%) favor the immigration order Trump signed in January.

Some analysts, such as Eric Teetsel, who was Senator Marco Rubio's faith outreach director during the Republican primaries, have warned that the "white evangelicals" grouping may be more of a sociological one than one based on theological thinking.

When it comes to media figures reporting on exit polls that claimed that 81 percent of evangelicals voted for Trump in the November elections, Teetsel pointed out that a smaller majority may be considered evangelicals.

"Consider that just 56 percent of voters who said they attend religious services 'weekly or more' voted for Trump," he said.

Joe Carter, an adjunct professor of journalism at Virginia's Patrick Henry College, has argued that it is difficult to characterize what an evangelical is these days.

"Actual devotion to Christ cannot be measured by checking a box on a survey," Carter said, noting that non-church going evangelicals in such polls can create inaccurate assumptions.

"To the media, such distinctions may be unimportant. But if we are seeking a fair and accurate representation of actual evangelicals, it's important to distinguish them from those who do not truly subscribe to evangelical beliefs and practices," he said.

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