A new poll by the Pew Research Center finds that while white evangelical support for President Donald Trump has slipped a bit, members of this religious community remain broadly supportive of the president, backing him at much higher rates than other religious and non-religious groups.
Pew found that 69 percent of white evangelicals say they approve of the way Trump is handling his job. It’s true that Trump has seen some erosion among this group. Earlier in his tenure, Trump’s approval rating hit 78 percent with white evangelicals. But it’s also true that even with some slippage, no other religious group shows such high levels of support for Trump.
Other groups are divided over the president. Among white mainline Protestants, 48 percent say they approve of Trump. His support among white Catholics is at 44 percent.
Pew notes that non-white evangelicals and black mainline Protestants disapprove of Trump. In addition, non-religious people are among Trump’s strongest critics. “Religiously unaffiliated Americans,” Pew notes, “consistently express among the lowest levels of approval of Trump’s performance, ranging from 17% to 27% across the polls the Center has conducted since the president assumed office.” (Jews and Muslims are also generally not Trump fans. Among Jews, just 24 percent say they approve of Trump’s performance. The number for Muslims is even lower at 18 percent.)
The Pew report contains an interesting nugget about Trump’s white evangelical supporters: The more often they go to church, they more likely they are to back him. The report observes, “White evangelical Protestants who regularly attend church (that is, once a week or more) approve of Trump at rates matching or exceeding those of white evangelicals who attend church less often.”
An earlier Pew poll found that about half of white evangelicals don’t believe Trump has set a high moral standard in office. They continue to support him because they like his policies.
Prior to Trump’s election, Americans were told by the Religious Right over and over that “character counts.” Presidents, we were told, must set a high moral standard and model true “godly” behavior. Apparently, none of that matters any longer as right-wing evangelicals race to embrace a man who gets a “mulligan” for his moral transgressions.
Reading between the lines of the Pew poll, one can’t help but be struck by one stark fact: Hypocrisy is alive and well among the Religious Right.