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White Evangelicals’ strong desire for Christian influence in public life

The Pew Research Center reports on the attitudes of white Evangelicals toward Christianity’s role in public life highlighting a significant desire among the group for Christianity to have a greater influence on American culture and politics, despite a decline in their population share. The report notes a strong preference among white evangelicals for leaders with solid religious convictions, even as they show support for Donald Trump, whose personal conduct does not align with Evangelical values.

Christianity Today reports:

According to a new survey from the Pew Research Center, most white evangelicals want a president who reflects their religious beliefs, believe the Bible should have some influence on US laws, and see the retreat of religion as a bad thing.

Yet they oppose adopting Christianity as an official religion and very few (8%) have a “favorable” view of Christian nationalism.

Overall, nearly half of adults see the decline of religious influence in the country as a bad thing. White evangelicals are the most likely to see the trend negatively, at 76 percent. The majority of other Christians across traditions agree.

Most Americans want to see someone in the White House who stands up for their religious beliefs. Though few see either candidate in the 2024 race as particularly religious, more than two-thirds of white evangelicals believe Donald Trump comes to their defense.

Despite the increasing buzz around Christian nationalism from candidates on the stump or on social media, Pew found that most Americans (54%)—and most Christians—have not heard of the term at all.

“Even those who think the United States should be a Christian nation and the Bible should have a great deal of influence on the law, most of them are reluctant to say that they have a favorable view of Christian nationalism. So there seems to be some negative stigma with the term,” Michael Rotolo, lead author of the report, said.

While a plurality of Americans (44%) believe the government should promote Christian moral values, only 13 percent of respondents say the government should declare Christianity the official religion.

Read the full article.

Key Points

  • White evangelicals express a strong desire for Christianity to have a greater influence on American culture and politics.
  • Despite a decline in their population share, their commitment to seeing their religious values reflected in public life remains strong.
  • Support among white evangelicals for political leaders with strong religious convictions is notable, even when the personal conduct of these leaders may not align with evangelical values.
Theme Pros Cons
Influence of Christianity on Public Life Strengthens moral and ethical standards in society This may lead to the exclusion or marginalization of non-Christian perspectives
Political Engagement Encourages active civic participation and advocacy for faith-based values Risks deepening political polarization and associating faith too closely with specific political parties
Leadership Preferences Promotes leaders who prioritize moral convictions Potential for overlooking leadership flaws due to alignment on religious values

Questions to Consider

  1. How does the desire for Christian influence in public life shape the political engagement of white evangelicals?
  2. What are the implications of prioritizing religious convictions in political leaders for democratic pluralism?
  3. How can white evangelicals balance their aspirations for religious influence with the principles of a diverse and inclusive society?

 

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