A new study, released by the Voter Study Group, illustrates a growing divide between how younger and older evangelicals perceive political issues, particularly those championed by President Trump.
While older white evangelical Christians have been enthusiastic about President Trump and his policies, younger evangelicals do not share their views. While 80 percent of white evangelicals over 45 have a favorable view of the President, only 60 percent of younger evangelicals hold the same view. The disparity becomes even more pronounced when considering the percentage who hold a “very favorable” view of the President. 55 percent of older white evangelicals hold a “very favorable” view of President Trump compared with only 25 percent of younger white evangelicals.
One issue where the divide is quite pronounced is immigration. The survey shows that younger white evangelicals tend to hold a much more positive view about the effects of immigration on American life. One question asked if immigrants strengthen our country, are a burden on our country, or if the person thinks both, neither, or does not know. Older white evangelicals were more likely to view immigrants as a burden while younger white evangelicals considered them to be an asset to the country.
66 percent of those aged 18-34 said that immigrants strengthen the country, compared to only 32 percent of those 65 and over. 54 percent of the oldest group believes that immigrants are a burden on the country, while less than 30 percent of those 18-34 held that view as well.
Daniel Cox, writing at FiveThirtyEight, said that young white evangelicals have also been less enthusiastic about Trump is because, “Their lives have been dramatically different than their parents.” He argued that younger white evangelicals do not view the United States becoming a majority non-white country as a problem, many old white evangelicals believe it is.
In addition, younger evangelicals are more likely to see “racial, ethnic, and religious diversity” as a “normal part of everyday life.” The author pointed to the increase in Christian college enrollment in recent years along with the drop in the percentage of students who are white as an example.
The author also noted that Christians are less likely to believe that their faith is under attack from the surrounding culture. He shared a quote from Russell Moore, president of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, in which he argued that younger Christians never really lived in a culturally Christian America, so they did not identify with “Make America Great Again.” Moore said, “Young evangelicals do not feel as if they are losing anything in terms of American culture. They came of age at a time when following Christ seemed countercultural to them anyway. They never expected a nominally Christian culture in which being a good member would be the equivalent of being a good American.”
Young evangelicals will have a difficult decision to make in the 2020 election. While many do not support the President and his policies, many also cannot find a home in the Democratic Party because of its hardline pro-choice stance, Newsweek reports.
Scott Slayton writes at “One Degree to Another.”
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