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The Religious Supporters Of Donald Trump – OpEd

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The majority of Americans are religious, and according to the latest Pew survey, 83% of white evangelical Americans support Trump for reelection (62% strongly) although that is only 2 points above the percentage that voted for him in 2016, and given how much he’s delivered for them, he should be doing even better.

But four years ago, Trump won a bigger proportion of white evangelical votes than any Republican presidential candidate in history, and he will win by an even greater proportion in this election because the number of white evangelicals have been in steady decline for the last 15 years, and that is why many white evangelical voters are sympathetic to anti-foreigner white supremest groups.

The Southern Baptist Convention, the nation’s largest Protestant denomination, said it had 14.8 million members in 2018, down by a million and a half since it peaked at 16.3 million in 2006.

In Pew Research Center telephone surveys conducted in 2018 and 2019, 65% of American adults describe themselves as Christians when asked about their religion, down 12 percentage points over the past decade. Meanwhile, the religiously unaffiliated share of the population, consisting of people who describe their religious identity as atheist, agnostic or “nothing in particular,” now stands at 26%, up nine points from 17% in 2009.

Fifty-nine percent of white Catholics voted for Trump in 2016 and 59% still support him over (white Catholic) Biden today. But Trump supporters have risen from fewer than a quarter of Latino Catholics who voted for Trump in 2016, to one-third of them who back him now.

No religious group has in recent decades been more Republican than the Latter-day Saints, but Mormon support for Trump in 2016 was relatively weak, and their level of support has increased only 2 points since 2016. Then, 56% of them cast their ballots for him. This year, according to a survey published in January, 58% support him over Biden.

Trump’s support has declined by three points in two large religious groups. While only 8% of Black Protestants, the most Democratic religious group in the country, voted for Trump in 2016, now just 5% support him. And where 62% of non-evangelical whites — mainline Protestants — voted for him in 2016, now 59% prefer him to Biden; and suburban women account for most of that loss of support.

Jews are a very strong Democratic voter group. But Orthodox Jews, who are only 10% of the Jewish population, have moved strongly in Trump’s direction especially since Trump’s daughter converted to Orthodox Judaism.

In 2016, only 28% of all Jews voted for Trump, while 37% say they’d vote for him now. Not since 1980 has a Republican presidential candidate received such a large proportion of Jewish support.

Then, Ronald Reagan’s 39% was at least in part the result of the Jewish community’s sense that Jimmy Carter was no friend of Israel. That Trump is doing so well today is doubtless the result of his moving the US embassy to Jerusalem.

A poll, conducted by Garin-Hart-Yang Research Associates that took place in February 2020 of 1,001 self-identified Jewish voters found that US Jewish voters remain highly supportive of the Israel’s right to exist and defend itself: 91% said they were generally pro-Israel, even though 56% identified themselves as “critical” of the Netanyahu government.

While a large majority of US Jewish voters disapprove of Trump’s performance on domestic policy issues — from taxes to healthcare and reproductive rights, a slim majority approves Trump’s management of US-Israel relations.

Fifty-one percent of Jews said they supported Trump’s Israel policies; 39% said they didn’t. The US Jewish community was much more divided on Trump’s decision to move the American embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. Whereas 45% approved of the move, 42% said they were opposed to it.

Orthodox Jews (the President’s daughter and son-in-law are Orthodox Jews) were much more supportive of the move, while Reform and Conservative Jews were more opposed.

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Rabbi Allen S. Maller

Allen Maller retired in 2006 after 39 years as Rabbi of Temple Akiba in Culver City, Calif. He is the author of an introduction to Jewish mysticism. God. Sex and Kabbalah and editor of the Tikun series of High Holy Day prayerbooks.

One thought on “The Religious Supporters Of Donald Trump – OpEd

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    August 31, 2020 at 2:00 pm
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    Yesterday after Mass, someone showed me a video of Donald Trump and a group of his supporters singing the Salve Regina (Hail Holy Queen) in front of the White House after the Republican Convention. Perhaps a response to the letter of encouragement sent by Archbishop Vigano some weeks ago. Anyway I regard it as a sign of hope.

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