Have White Evangelical Voters Abandoned Children?

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Evangelicals Have Remained either Silent Or Supportive Of Trump’s Immigration Policy

President Trump has faced severe backlash over his decision to separate children from their parents if the family is caught illegally crossing the U.S. border to seek asylum or a new home. This has included a diverse range of religious leaders consisting of nearly every Jewish organization, Quakers, evangelical leader Franklin Graham, Muslims, the United Methodist Church, the Presbyterian Church, and the Southern Baptist Convention.

There is one group that is generally missing, white evangelical voters.

White evangelical voters have consistently been one of President Trump’s greatest supporters. Over 80 percent support the president. When asked in a recent survey about Trump’s decision to separate families, 75 percent of white evangelicals agreed with the president. Given that the Bible states “All your children will be taught by the LORD, and great will be their peace,” some religious leaders have questioned why this denomination have either been silent or encouraging of a policy many find immoral.

Experts have identified two distinct reasons. The first is a prioritization of policy issues for white evangelicals. Even if they disagree with ripping families apart, overall they feel the need to support Trump. Many evangelicals believe America is currently fighting a war for its soul. Trump has been a great friend to evangelicals: he has been curtailing abortion, promoting religious freedom, and nominated Neil Gorsuch to the supreme court, who has a judicial history of making decisions based on conservative Christian values. This group wants to have friendly laws passed and are willing to go along with the administration, even if all of the decisions are not in sync with their religious beliefs.

Second, while white evangelicals might not want families divided, securing the border is a priority for them. Trump argues that a zero-tolerance policy with harsh punishments is necessary to stop an influx of criminals into the United States. They additionally believe discussing immigration is exclusively a tactic used by Democrats to attack Trump. Even though Christian leaders like Franklin Graham use the Bible to support rejecting family division, this does not sway white evangelicals.

The bible wants Christians to follow an ethic of love that is universal: “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.” Unfortunately, a specific Christian denomination seems to have a radically different view about the purpose of religion within society. Over 2,000 children are being held in detention centers without their families and the number is growing every day. While religious leaders have criticized Trump, there has not been a widespread reaction to evangelical support for the president.

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