By Christopher Lamb
President Donald Trump’s support among evangelicals could be weakening, according to a group calling on Republican Christian voters to turn away from the president.
“I think there is a percentage of Trump’s vote among evangelicals that’s vulnerable,” Tim Miller, the political director of Republicans Against Trump, told the Religion Media Centre.
Mr Miller helped to produce a new political advertisement arguing that the president’s action and rhetoric are at odds with the Christian faith. Trump’s 2016 election victory saw him win 81 per cent of white evangelical voters, and 60 per cent of Catholic voters.
“The reality is that he’s going to have majority support among the evangelical community, there’s no doubt about that. But what you are seeing is a waning of support among very devout evangelicals. People who go to church multiple times a week have always been shakier than some of their more casual evangelical counterparts,” Mr Miller said.
Trump is going to need the support of Christian voters in swing states to win the election in November, and Mr Miller said that if only five per cent of the support could be peeled away, it could be decisive. The advert, he added, would be broadcast in the swing state of North Carolina.
Many Christians were troubled by the sight of anti-racism protesters being forcibly cleared so that the president could be photographed with a Bible in front of St John’s Episcopal Church, Washington DC, on 1 June. Speakers in the advertisement, which has the hymn Amazing Grace playing in the background, refer to the St John’s incident.
“We’ve seen a lot of blowback around that,” Mr Miller said. “Certain voters said, ‘I don’t like this deal that I’ve cut with him any more. We are being used and not in a healthy way’.”
Trump has been courting the Christian vote, giving interviews to the Christian Broadcasting Network, which has a conservative evangelical audience, and Eternal Word Television Network (EWTN), which aims content at Roman Catholics who support Trump.
But the polls show that support for president among white evangelicals and Catholics is falling away, with a 1 July Pew Research survey confirming that his numbers are down. The disparity between white and Hispanic Catholics on Trump is particularly stark, with the latter far more hostile. Hispanic Catholics now make up a greater percentage of the Roman Catholic Church in the United States than years before.
Trump has appealed to religious voters by seeking to protect religious freedom and declaring himself “pro-life” and opposed to abortion. Yet there is scant evidence to suggest he himself is religious.
Maryanne Trump Barry, who is a Catholic, is said to be astounded by the evangelical Christian support for her brother. The details are contained in a new book, Too Much and Never Enough, by Mary Trump, the president’s niece.
“The only time Donald went to church was when the cameras were there,” she writes, quoting her aunt. “It’s mind-boggling. But that’s all about his base.”