Americans tend to see Trump as helping evangelicals, harming Muslims: Pew

Several faith leaders lay hands on President Donald Trump at an informal meeting held at the Roosevelt Room in the White House in Washington, D.C., Oct. 29, 2019.
Several faith leaders lay hands on President Donald Trump at an informal meeting held at the Roosevelt Room in the White House in Washington, D.C., Oct. 29, 2019. | White House/Joyce Boghosian

Many Americans believe that the Trump administration has helped evangelical Christians more than any other group, while also seeing it as having hurt Muslims more than any other group.

A report by the Pew Research Center found that 43% of respondents believed that the Trump administration had helped evangelicals, versus 44% who felt there was “not much difference” and 11% who felt Trump was hurting them.

Behind evangelicals, 29% of respondents believed that the administration had helped Jews, 25% viewed it as helping Catholics, 14% said it has helped the religious unaffiliated, and 7% said it has helped Muslims.

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On the opposite end, more Americans viewed the administration as having hurt Muslims than any other listed religious group, with 48% saying they believed this.

This perception presumably derives from the controversial rhetoric Trump engaged in as a candidate and his administration's efforts to curb immigration from multiple Muslim-majority nations. 

Justin Nortey of Pew wrote in the report that responses to the question of whether evangelicals had been helped by the administration “vary by respondents’ religious affiliation.”

“Among white evangelical Protestants themselves, most feel that the Trump administration has had a positive impact on their affairs. About six-in-ten (59%) say that the administration has helped evangelicals, while only 7% say it has hurt them,” wrote Nortey.

“Jews (64%) are about as likely to say the Trump administration has helped evangelical Christians, while black Protestants (21%) are least likely to say this.”

The report also found that evangelicals were more likely than Jews to believe that Jews were helped by the administration, with 57% of evangelicals saying they were helped versus 40% of Jewish respondents saying the same.

“The share of U.S. adults who say the administration has helped Jews (29%) is roughly equal to the share who say it has hurt them (26%), while about four-in-ten U.S. adults (42%) say the administration has not made much of a difference for Jews,” continued Nortey.

“White evangelicals are the only religious group in which a majority says the administration has helped Jews.”

The report from earlier this week drew from a survey conducted Feb. 4-15 among 6,395 U.S. adults in a nationally representative sample from Pew’s American Trends Panel.

Since his days as a primary challenger for the Republican Party presidential nomination, Trump has made many overtures to the evangelical Christian base of the GOP.

Polls have shown that white evangelical support in particular for the president remains strong, especially compared to other racial and religious groups.

For example, in a report from March that drew from the same survey data, Pew found that white evangelicals were more likely to consider Trump “morally upstanding,” “honest,” and religious than the general U.S. population was.

According to that report, 15% of white evangelical respondents believed that “morally upstanding” described Trump “very well,” versus 45% that said the term fit “fairly well” and 37% who said “not too well” or “not at all well.”

Further, 23% of white evangelicals said that “honest” described Trump “very well,” compared to 46% that said “fairly well” and 29% that said “Not too/not at all well.”

“While white evangelical Protestants generally see Trump as standing up for them, they are less convinced that he personally lives a moral and ethical life or conducts himself admirably,” noted the March Pew report.

“Still, even though relatively few white evangelicals say words and phrases like ‘morally upstanding’ and ‘honest’ describe Trump very well, most say these traits describe Trump at least fairly well.”

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