Study: ‘Christian Nationalism’ Played Significant Role in 2016 U.S. Elections

First lady Melania Trump, President Donald Trump, and Franklin Graham pray during a ceremony honoring Reverend Billy Graham in the Rotunda of the U.S. Capitol building, Wednesday, Feb. 28, 2018, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

Conservative Christianity played a far greater role in getting Donald Trump elected to the White House than other factors commonly put forward, says a report in the journal Sociology of Religion.

The study, titled “Make America Christian Again: Christian Nationalism and Voting for Donald Trump in the 2016 Presidential Election,” explores the key motivators that accounted for the Trump victory in November 2016.

Contrary to theories alleging racism, “Islamophobia,” sexism, xenophobia, or even economic disadvantage as the driving force behind Trump voters, a team of three researchers found that it was good, old-fashioned patriotism combined with sincere Christian belief that moved voters to reject Hillary Clinton and vote in Donald Trump.

People on the left have been so determined to paint Trump voters as white supremacists or xenophobic Neanderthals that they seem to have missed the core element fueling the 2016 electorate: a desire to reconnect with America’s Christian roots and the virtues that historically made the country great.

For many Americans, Trump was “a symbolic defense of the United States’ perceived Christian heritage,” declare Andrew L Whitehead, Samuel L Perry and Joseph O Baker in their report.

Trump-voters valued a return to U.S. Christian identity along with the appointment of Christian social conservatives to key administration positions ahead of almost anything else, the study contends.

While not entirely free from the politically correct and scientifically suspect presuppositions and language about Trump voters common in the mainstream milieu, the report found that greater adherence to Christian nationalism “was a robust predictor of voting for Trump,” even after controlling for other influences.

The report also takes pains to distinguish Christian nationalism from the more diluted category of “civil religion.”

Civil religion is only vaguely connected to Christianity, the reports states, while Christian nationalism employs overtly Christian language and imagery.

The authors occasionally extrapolate far beyond their actual data, such as when they claim that Christian Trump-voters adopt an “Old Testament” parallel between America and Israel that includes the maintenance of “cultural and blood purity, often through war, conquest, and separatism.” While this may apply to a small minority of Trump-voters, the study fails to demonstrate that it is true of anything approaching a majority.

Reading between the lines, in fact, one cannot help perceiving an animosity toward Trump-voters on the part of the study’s authors, which is unsurprising given their background. Nonetheless, their findings do reveal how central Christian faith is to a significant bloc of American voters, who for too long have seen that faith trampled upon and ridiculed.

As Breitbart News reported Saturday, an overt anti-Christian bias is so widespread among liberal elites that they are often completely unaware of it.

The case in point was a Friday essay in the New Yorker announcing that the arrival of Chick-fil-A restaurants in New York City “feels like an infiltration, in no small part because of its pervasive Christian traditionalism.”

The article by Dan Piepenbring, titled “Chick-fil-A’s Creepy Infiltration of New York City,” makes no effort to conceal the underlying concern of the author, namely the overt Christian faith of its owners.

As evidence of Chick-fil-A’s “creepiness,” Piepenbring notes that its corporate headquarters in Atlanta “is adorned with Bible verses and a statue of Jesus washing a disciple’s feet. Its stores close on Sundays.”

“The restaurant’s corporate purpose still begins with the words ‘to glorify God,’ and that proselytism thrums below the surface of the Fulton Street restaurant, which has the ersatz homespun ambiance of a megachurch,” the essay proclaims in what is evidently intended to be a frightening revelation.

While the left has consistently failed to tap into the deep Christian faith that animates a sizable portion of the American voting public, Mr. Trump—whatever his other failings—has not.

Follow Thomas D. Williams on Twitter


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