News of evangelical support for President Donald Trump has been overstated.
In a Thursday tweet, Liberty University President Jerry Falwell Jr. wrote that only “17% or so” of evangelicals opposed Trump in 2016. This is incorrect.
The most often cited number when it comes to evangelical support for Trump is “81%,” which is likely what Falwell had in mind. But that number comes with many caveats: 1) it only includes white evangelicals, 2) it only includes self-identified evangelicals, which means non-churchgoers and people who don’t hold evangelical beliefs could be included, 3) non-voters were not polled and so their numbers are not included in the denominator, and 4) it was based upon exit polls, which are among the least reliable polls.
Taking all those factors into consideration, as previously explained by The Christian Post in 2018, Trump-supporting evangelicals represent about half, at best, and likely less than half, of all evangelicals.
Understanding this, it makes more sense that a recent Politico/Morning Consult poll found that 43% of evangelicals support removing Trump from office.
Thirty-four percent of evangelicals strongly approve, 9% somewhat approve, 4% somewhat disapprove, and 49% strongly disapprove of removing Trump from office. These numbers additionally show that evangelicals are much more divided on Trump than Falwell and others suggest.
(The Politico report doesn’t say how evangelical was defined or if non-white evangelicals were included. The Christian Post reached out to Politico for an answer. This article will be updated when a response is received.)
The context of Falwell’s tweet was the imbroglio over Christianity Today’s editor-in-chief Mark Galli calling for the removal of Trump from office. Various voices in this debate have claimed to represent and speak for the views of the vast majority of evangelicals.
In a Friday CNN interview, Galli labeled evangelicals who disagree with him as “far right.”
Trump responded to the editorial by labeling Christianity Today a “far left magazine.”
Rev. Franklin Graham wrote “Christianity Today … is representing the elitist liberal wing of evangelicalism.”
Pastor Jentezen Franklin wrote in an op-ed for The Christian Post that Galli’s editorial was “Just the opinion of one man,” “And in no way reflects the values and heart of Christianity today in these United States of America.”
Pastor Jack Graham claimed Christianity Today “is increasingly liberal and out of step and out of touch with conservative Christians and churches.”