Social scientists have a number of theories on why President Donald Trump captured the votes of 80 percent of white evangelical Protestants in the 2016 election, much more than his support from any other religious group. And the president still enjoys the approval of 78 percent of white evangelicals, according to a recent Pew Research Center survey.
Some researchers have theorized that the economic anxiety of the working class may explain the Trump support, while others cite white Americans’ fears about “cultural displacement.”
In a recently published study, a team of sociologists claims there’s another common thread that could explain why some evangelicals are willing to overlook behavior they would typically condemn as immoral, including multiple allegations of sexual impropriety.
Andrew Whitehead, a sociologist at Clemson University, told HuffPost the key is Christian nationalism.
Christian nationalism is an ideology that fuses Christians’ love of God and country. It hinges on the narrative that the United States has a special covenant with the Christian God.
This ideology has emerged at various times in U.S. history, but a distinct, aggressive iteration seems to have materialized in the Trump era, according to a Think Progress report. This most recent version rejects secular society and seeks to restore America’s identity as a “Christian nation” by leveraging Christians’ influence in the public sphere. Some of Trump’s strongest evangelical supporters believe the president was divinely chosen by God to help them achieve the goal of a Christian nation.
Whitehead said his research indicates that Americans who believed in several key tenets of Christian nationalism had a strong likelihood of voting for Trump. This was true even when the research team controlled for other influences, like political ideology and party affiliation.
Read the full story at The Huffington Post