President Donald Trump’s support among white evangelicals has dropped nearly 10 percentage points since taking office in January 2017, according to new data from the Pew Research Center released Monday.
Roughly seven-in-10 white evangelical Protestants, or 69 percent, approve of the way Trump is handling the job, according to Pew’s latest polling from January. This is down from 78 percent who approved of him shortly after he took office.
Trump has been a divisive figure within the evangelical community, with some prominent evangelicals — like Jerry Falwell, Jr., the president of Liberty University — staunchly defending Trump and his policies.
Others, like founder of Living Proof Ministries Beth Moore, who has a large following of mostly female evangelicals, openly oppose Trump. And some leaders, like Rick Warren, the pastor of Saddleback megachurch in Orange County, California, which serves more than 20,000 congregants on a weekly basis, have expressed mixed feelings about Trump.
Warren’s attitudes reflect that of many evangelicals: According to an August 2018 survey, half of white evangelicals “do not think Trump has set a high moral standard for the presidency since taking office,” according to Pew.
Since declaring himself a candidate for the presidency, Trump and his administration have been engulfed in scandals. Multiple women have accused Trump of sexual misconduct. Michael Cohen, Trump’s former personal attorney, recently testified to Congress that Trump ordered Cohen to pay hush money to Stephanie Clifford, an adult film star who goes by the name Stormy Daniels and alleges that she had an affair with Trump in 2006, shortly after the birth of his son with first lady Melania Trump.
Still, evangelicals overwhelmingly continue to support Trump. In its latest survey, Pew found that nearly 75 percent of white evangelicals support Trump’s plan for a substantial wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.
According to Pew, white Protestants and white Catholics are less approving of Trump compared with white evangelicals, but still more approving that religiously unaffiliated Americans. Roughly 48 percent of white Protestants approve of the president, while Trump’s approval among white Catholics is 44 percent.
Religiously unaffiliated Americans consistently disapprove of Trump’s performance, ranging from 17-27 percent approval, according to Pew.
Most black Protestants and non-white Catholics also consistently disapprove of Trump’s performance, according to Pew, which did not provide data on black Protestants because of insufficient sample size. Meanwhile, about 26 percent of non-white Catholics back the president.
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