A veteran researcher has detailed how on Nov. 8, 2016, Christian conservatives altered the course of American history by voting overwhelmingly for and delivering victory to Donald Trump to be the 45th president of the United States. And though the mainstream press derides or ignores them, he says, such Christians will retain their influence if and only if they stay alert and engaged.
To the chagrin of secular progressives, particularly in the mass media, George Barna believes that spiritually active, government engaged conservatives — SAGE Cons he calls them — continue to leave an indelible mark on American political life. His latest book, The Day Christians Changed America: How Christians Conservatives Put Trump in the White House and Redirected America’s Future, showcases the impact both they and, more broadly, Christians had in the last election.
“When conservative Christians in America search for a candidate, they do it differently than most other Americans,” Barna said in a recent phone interview with The Christian Post.
“Most Americans have one or two issues that are important to them. They will look at where the candidates stand on those issues, or they will do it much more viscerally and they’ll respond in an emotional manner to the personality or the appearance of a candidate.”
A candidate’s character has been the key element for conservative Christians, he added, but 2016 posed a particular problem because when they assessed both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, their response was: “No way.”
The relationship between conservative evangelical Christians and Donald Trump has been a mysterious subject that has confounded many and angered others. What is often forgotten, however, is that Trump was the least favored candidate among devout, churchgoing evangelical Christians during the Republican primaries. They formed the backbone of opposition to him at that time, preferring other candidates but their influence was diluted due to how they split their votes.
Most conservative Christians who pulled the Republican lever in the general election were not voting for Donald Trump so much so as they were voting against Hillary Clinton and voting for specific issues like originalist Supreme Court justices, legislation protecting the unborn, and for protection against rising threats to religious freedom, Barna explains in his book.
“Really what it came down to was: who’s most likely to at least listen to us and give us a fair hearing on the kinds of issues and the situations that matter to us the most?” he said.
So they took a chance on Donald Trump and, because of their influence and size in key states, handed him a stunning win that shocked the world, he went on to explain. Although some dispute the number, exit polls following the election indicated that 81 percent of white evangelicals voted for Trump.
Barna, who now heads the American Culture and Faith Institute, having sold the Barna Group — his previous research firm — in 2009, has continued to measure the attitudes and perspectives of American Christians and how they intersect with politics and culture. He utilizes these surveys extensively in his latest work.
The 2016 cycle was arguably one the most tumultuous seasons in American politics, one that put a spotlight on how churches fail to engage public life.
SOURCE: Brandon Showalter