A number of voices warned over the last few years that Christian involvement in politics of late was hurting the work of the Gospel and that “exvangelicals” was becoming a thing as a result. Vox even reported earlier this year that the last four years were literally “a catastrophe for American Christianity.”
These are indeed serious charges, if true, because Christians should resist all that hinders the message of the Gospel. But is it true?
New research from the Pew Research Center took up this very question. They bluntly explain their “survey data finds that there has been no large-scale departure from evangelicalism among White Americans.” “In fact,” they add, “there is solid evidence that White Americans who viewed President Trump favorably and did not identify as evangelicals in 2016 were much more likely than White Trump skeptics to begin identifying as born-again or evangelical Protestants by 2020.” Pew states that their survey did not indicate that evangelicals who opposed Trump were more likely “to drop the evangelical label.”
Specifically, they found that while 25% of White Americans described themselves as “born-again” or evangelical in 2016, and that percentage grew to 29 in 2020. Pew reports that while 2% of White Americans indicated they stopped identifying themselves as “born-again” or evangelical in 2016, that was “more than offset” by the 6% who began calling themselves born-again/evangelical between 2016 and 2020. Pew directly explains, “There is no clear evidence that White evangelicals who opposed Trump were more likely than Trump supporters to leave the evangelical fold.”
What about evangelical identification among non-White Americans?
Pew addressed this as well, finding that the “share of non-White U.S. adults who abandoned the born-again/evangelical label in recent years is offset by the share who [newly] adopted it.”
These findings are quite contrary to gloomy predictions we have heard from some in the media, and not a few evangelical leaders themselves. The take-away for Christians is that the Holy Spirit and the Word of God are substantially more powerful than our personal feelings about who occupies the White House. Jesus said that not even the gates of Hell would prevail against His church. Bumps in the tumultuous world of politics certainly won’t either… and haven’t.
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