Posted on November 23, 2020

Trump’s Election Support from Evangelicals Shows We’re the Biggest Obstacle to Racial Justice

Robert P. Jones, NBC News, November 16, 2020


White evangelicals have proven ourselves to be demonstrably less compassionate, empathetic and hospitable, and clearly less committed to racial reconciliation and justice, than our fellow Americans.

The election results — in which 76 percent of white evangelicals supported Trump — along with pre-election research showing how white evangelicals’ political behavior is animated by racial resentment, indicate that the white evangelical community will be the most powerful force in hindering this work for racial justice and reconciliation and the efforts to achieve the promise of a multiracial democracy at this time of reckoning in our nation.

I was born into the world of white evangelical Protestantism, where we were taught that our community was the salt of the earth, a beacon of light and an exemplar of what is best about America. In earlier times, our community quietly asserted that the moral foundations of the nation were moored to white Christian culture, and when a changing country made that claim untenable, prominent leaders aligned with the Republican Party declared it to be the “moral majority,” a force to save the country from its apostasy and ruin. {snip}


{snip} Moreover, public opinion surveys reveal a more deeply disturbing truth: that the lie of white supremacy — that white people’s lives are more important than those of others — continues to be one of the primary ties that bind Trump and the white evangelical world.

{snip} According to data from the Public Religion Research Institute’s American Values Survey, 6 in 10 (59 percent) white evangelicals agree that immigrants are “invading our country and replacing our cultural and ethnic background,” a view shared by only 30 percent of all other religious Americans and 31 percent of the country.

Today, 7 in 10 white evangelicals continue to see the killing of unarmed Black people by police as isolated incidents rather than part of a pattern of how police treat African Americans. Among all other religious Americans and the country as a whole, only 43 percent agree with this assessment. Over the last five years, broad and diverse protests for racial justice and police reform have resulted in a 10-point drop in the percentage of Americans who deny racial bias in policing, but white evangelical Protestants remain unmoved.

Perhaps most tellingly, 6 in 10 Americans, including 6 in 10 of all religious Americans who are not white evangelicals, believe Trump’s decisions and behavior have encouraged white supremacist groups across the country, a view shared by only one-quarter of white evangelicals.


Overall, white evangelicals’ enthusiasm for “making America great again” has been rooted in a white Christian nationalism that has always been inconsistent with a multiracial, religiously pluralistic democracy. The heartbreaking truth is that, without white evangelicals, the primary issue that has rent the soul of America since our beginnings — the struggle for racial equality and justice — would suddenly become much more manageable.


Going forward, only absolute repentance from the sin of white racism and solidarity with our Black and brown brothers and sisters can create a constructive place for white evangelicals in America’s future. {snip}