Friday, January 18, 2019

Trump and Evangelicals

An interesting article at The American Conservative, Why Ex-Churchgoers Flocked To Trump. I am not well able to verify this from my own experience, as most conservatives/Republicans/Trump supporters I know are church-connected.  I do know some at work, and I think there is some tendency for the Trump supporters to be people who used to go to church, but my sample size is too small to tell us much.  At least, it does not contradict this data. The idea that people got discouraged about church and decided that didn't work for rescuing their lives or the country, and thus gravitated to Trump is intriguing.

I will add in the bit that since colonial times Appalachia has carried on the Scots, and then Scots-Irish tradition of outdoor religious festivals lasting a few days or even a week. Camp meetings and revivals were not a new thing, they were an American adaptation of an older thing. This did create some de-emphasis on church and more on intermittent intensity. Scotland wasn't the only place, of course.  Saints days and festivals are known in many places.


Roy Lofquist said...

Churches have always fulfilled two community needs: spiritual instruction and social gathering. With the increases in leisure time, mobility, communications, recreational opportunities, etc. the social role of organized religion has diminished. This does not mean that there has been a corresponding reduction in religious faith.

Assistant Village Idiot said...

We have different definitions, then.

I would define the fellowship of the saints as close to an absolute necessity - in the the Christian faith, at least. It has been one of my objections over the years to such devotional books as My Utmost For His Highest, which stress only the vertical relationship. I would also stress worship over spiritual instruction, as the former is ongoing, while the latter might be generally accomplished in a relatively short period of time.

Roy Lofquist said...


Poor choice of words on my part. I should have written:

"Churches have traditionally fulfilled two community needs, religious and secular."

Christopher B said...

I see a bit of a chicken or egg question here. I recognize he certainly presented a compelling reason to think that economic decline caused church attendence to decline but mainstream churches like the ELCA were hemorrhaging members long before The Great Recession of 2008. Did white working class people give up on those churches, or did those churches move in directions that made them irrelevant to the lives of the white working class? Interesting to note that the Dutch Reformed and Winnebago County went for Cruz, not the Republican establishment candidate Jeb Bush.

Christopher B said...

BTW, my hometown is 5 miles from Winnebago county. I used to get haircuts in Buffalo Center.

Assistant Village Idiot said...

@ Roy - then yes, we are in substantial agreement.

@ CB - yes, I think it is further evidence that Trump is a symptom, not a cause of changes in America. If he decides he's tired of all this and doesn't run in 2020, there will be some casting about and floundering while the attitude that elected him regains focus, but it's not going away. Before there was ELCA there was LCA and others, and that was part of our leaving and ending up in the Covenant, a Swedish Lutheran offshoot from the 19th C.

Christopher B said...

Some numbers from general elections.

Winnebago County Republicans didn't find Trump totally unacceptable. Trump won the county 60% to Hillary's 33%. The county was 2 votes in 2012 (yes, votes) from being an Obama-to-Trump flip. Romney got 2897 votes, Obama 2895 in 2012. Obama carried Winnebago with 3254 votes (53%) in 2008. Trump bested Romney and both Obama runs with 3437 votes.

These are the same numbers for Fremont. Trump again got more votes than Romney or either Obama run.

Trump 67% 2401 votes to Clinton 27% 959 vores (Gary Johnson 3% 115 here, almost 4% 218 in Winnebago)

Obama 2012 44% 1636 to Romney 53% 1971
Obama 2008 47% 1848

Buchanan County, Virginia is similar to Fremont. Obama and Clinton lost all three elections to Republicans by increasing percentages, ending with Trump getting 79% there in 2016.

In all three counties there is a clear Republican swing in the general election from 2008 to 2016.

There might be some explanatory value in his analysis but I'm not seeing much that translates to why Trump won overall, especially when you note how well Trump did vs Obama in Winnebago.

Texan99 said...

I know quite a few unchurched and even anti-religious Trump supporters. He appeals to a lot of libertarians who as deeply skeptical of religious authority as they are of state authority.