Is Trump America’s first Post-Christian President?
Donald J. Trump (R-New York) is America’s first Post-Christian president. In fact, available data shows that Trump’s base is uninvolved in religion.
For instance, Trump received the support of 62% of Republicans who never attend church and 55% of Republicans who seldom intend church. To enumerate this data comes from the Voter Study Group and Timothy P. Carney quotes it in a recent American Conservative op-ed.
Tellingly, Carney writes; “every step down in church attendance brought a step up in Trump support, and vice versa. The most frequent attenders were half as likely to support Trump as were the least frequent attenders.”
The Data Shows Trump is America’s first Post-Christian President
In fact, only 31% of white evangelicals who claimed to be weekly churchgoers supported Trump in an April 2016 poll, Pew Research reports. Notably, Pew data indicates 66%; or two-thirds, of churchgoing evangelical whites preferred other candidates to Trump at the height of the 2016 Republican primary.
In detail, 41% of white evangelical churchgoers preferred U.S. Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas), 14% liked former Ohio governor John Kasich (R) and 7% somebody else. Thus, the data shows Trump was not the choice of churchgoers.
Moreover, “Trump performs far worse with the roughly two-thirds who are most religiously committed,” Pew pollsters Jessica Martinez and Gregory A. Smith conclude. In addition, Trump strongest support is among a group pollster Emily Ekins of the Voter Study Group labels “The Preservationists.”
Strangely, the Preservationists were the least likely to attend services but the most likely to say “religion is important,” Ekins concludes. However, a more accurate term for these individuals is Post-Christian.
Meet the Post-Christians
A Post-Christian is a person from a Christian cultural heritage and background who accepts Christian beliefs but does not take part in Christian religious activities. However, Post-Christians are very proud of their Christian identity and heritage.
Thus, Post-Christians are like secular Jews who are very proud of their Jewish heritage but have nothing to do with the Synagogue. In addition, like the secular Jews Post-Christians often base political decisions on their heritage. For example, secular Jews are often strong supporters of Israel and outspoken critics of anti-Semitism.
The Post-Christians Elected Trump
Obviously, Trump himself who grew up Presbyterian, in Queens of all places, is a textbook post-Christian. Trump is apparently very proud of his Christian heritage, but he did not know what to do at a Presbyterian service during the 2016 primaries.
Therefore, it is safe to conclude Trump is America’s first openly Post-Christian president. In particular, the Donald seems to be the first politician to appeal to the Post-Christians as a voting block. Hence, 2016 was the first election in which post-Christians played a decisive role.
Interestingly, Carney believes that Trump won by appealing to alienated Post-Christians. For instance, Carney concludes: “But when Middle America turned away from church, they were missing something. And they sought it in Trump.”
Will Post-Christians elect the next president?
In the final analysis, Carney’s thesis has some interesting implications for the 2020 Presidential race.
First, appealing to Post-Christians could be a winning strategy for a candidate. Strangely, Trump seems to have achieved his victory among Post-Christians accidentally.
To explain, the Donald seems to have been trying to appeal to evangelicals but attracted Post-Christians instead. Hence, rallying Post-Christians will be difficult because experts not researched them.
Second, there is an opening for an anti-Trump Republican who can appeal to churchgoers. Hence, both Cruz and Kasich could mount strong primary challenges to Trump.
Therefore, the Donald could be in for a nasty surprise in the 2020 Republican primaries if he runs. In fact, I think just one primary setback could destroy Trump’s political career.
Notably, no sitting President who faced a primary challenge has achieved reelection since 1964. In detail, Lyndon B. Johnson (D-Texas) 1968, Gerald Ford (R-Michigan) 1976, Jimmy Carter (D-Georgia) 1980, and George H. W. Bush (R-Texas) 1992, all lost. However, Johnson won despite a serious primary challenge from George Wallace (D-Alabama) in 1964.
Thus Post-Christians could be the most important voting bloc in America in 2020. However, nobody seems to understand the Post-Christians, including our Post-Christian President.