These 3 Charts Show Evangelicals Are Selling Out for Donald Trump
Hillary Clinton is a legitimate threat to traditional Christians, but evangelicals aren't just voting against her. They're also changing their standards for political candidates — a dangerous trend with potentially long-term consequences.
Supporting Trump need not entail actually selling out for him, but these three charts suggest that white evangelical Protestants are doing exactly that. The differences in political attitudes between 2011 and 2016 prove particularly revealing: more evangelicals are willing to excuse moral indiscretions and to minimize the importance of a candidate's religious beliefs. This is not your father's Moral Majority.
Here are the charts:
1. Excusing moral indiscretions.
The Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI) compared surveys asking members of different religious groups whether "an elected official who commits an immoral act in their personal life can still behave ethically and fulfill their duties in their public and professional life." The chart largely speaks for itself, but the numbers are indeed surprising.
In June 2011, only 30 percent of white evangelical Protestants said an official who commits an immoral act can still fulfill their duties in public life. In 2016, that number had more than doubled, shooting up to 72 percent! Indeed, more white evangelical Protestants agreed with the statement than religiously unaffiliated people, who are supposed to care less about morality.
While Americans overall, white mainline Protestants, and Catholics also altered their views on the public importance of a candidate's personal morality, white evangelical Protestants had the largest shift. The very religious group which forms the centerpiece of the Religious Right most accommodated their views to a morally questionable candidate. That's pretty revealing, if not damning.
Next Page: How important are the religious beliefs of a political candidate?