These Are Not the Evangelicals You Are Looking For

White Evangelicals May Not Be the Real Story.

Dennis Sanders

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Photo by Malcolm Lightbody on Unsplash

White evangelical.

Ever since Donald Trump’s surprise win in 2016, I’ve heard that phrase over and overused by journalists, academics, pastors, writers, and others. It has been used to describe who was most responsible for putting Trump in the White House and it’s launched many a career as folk seek to “understand” this segment that supposedly was so beneficial to Trump.

“White evangelical” has become a shorthand way of usually calling people racist, homophobic, nationalist, sexist, and every other bad attribute. It’s a way of saying that there is something wrong with these people and that they are to blame for what ails our society and are a threat to democracy itself.

But what if the picture is far more complicated? What if white evangelicals are not the dangerous monolith that we fear but are a group that is far more nuanced?

What if the picture is far more complicated? What if white evangelicals are not the dangerous monolith that we fear but are a group that is far more nuanced?

And why does it always seem that evangelicals are always assumed to be only white? Why are evangelicals of color practically erased from the consciousness of Americans?

Back in December, Musa al-Gharbi, a columnist for Interfaith America, wrote about the white evangelical vote and how it isn’t the big story we thought it was. al-Gharbi looked at the historical vote of evangelicals going back to the 1960s. Back then, they tended to vote for the Democrats, especially in 1964, when they voted against Republican Barry Goldwater. In 1968 and 72, they voted for Nixon because of their wariness of the counterculture even though they supported civil rights. In 1976 they moved to Carter, then Reagan in 1980. Evangelicals remained in the Republican column after Reagan though that support cooled. It peaked again with George W. Bush in 2000 and remained strong with the GOP ever since. al-Gharbi says that the real question isn’t the one we’ve been asking since 2016 which is, why are white evangelicals voting for Trump? The question shouldn’t be…

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Dennis Sanders

Middle-aged Midwesterner. I write about religion, politics and culture. Podcast: churchandmain.org newsletter: https://churchandmain.substack.com/