Trump wins big among nominal evangelicals, less so among most devout

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Republican U.S. presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks about the results of Super Tuesday primary and caucus voting during a news conference in Palm Beach, Florida on March 1, 2016. Photo courtesy of REUTERS/Scott Audette
*Editors: This photo may only be republished with RNS-SUPER-TUESDAY, originally transmitted on March 3, 2016.

Republican U.S. presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks about the results of Super Tuesday primary and caucus voting during a news conference in Palm Beach, Florida on March 1, 2016. Photo courtesy of REUTERS/Scott Audette *Editors: This photo may only be republished with RNS-SUPER-TUESDAY, originally transmitted on March 3, 2016.

 

Republican U.S. presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks about the results of Super Tuesday primary and caucus voting during a news conference in Palm Beach, Florida on March 1, 2016. Photo courtesy of REUTERS/Scott Audette *Editors: This photo may only be republished with RNS-SUPER-TUESDAY, originally transmitted on March 3, 2016.

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks about the results of Super Tuesday primary and caucus voting during a news conference in Palm Beach, Fla., on March 1, 2016. Photo courtesy of REUTERS/Scott Audette
*Editors: This photo may only be republished with RNS-SUPER-TUESDAY, originally transmitted on March 3, 2016.

(RNS) Donald Trump won big on Super Tuesday — including states that are largely evangelical.

The businessman and Republican presidential candidate won seven states: Georgia, Vermont, Virginia, Alabama, Massachusetts, Arkansas and Tennessee. The last is the most evangelical of the states voting, with 67 percent of Republicans identifying themselves as such.

But self-identification as an evangelical is “a broad brush within a Southern state that’s pretty Christianized,” such as Tennessee, said David Kinnaman, president of the Barna Group and co-author of “Good Faith: Being a Christian When Society Thinks You’re Irrelevant and Extreme.”

Barna instead looks at nine theological criteria to determine who is an evangelical in its polling, which makes Sen. Ted Cruz (38 percent) and retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson (35 percent) most popular among Republicans nationwide. Carson said Wednesday (March 2) he didn’t see “a political path forward after Super Tuesday primary results” and wouldn’t attend Thursday’s debate.

Tellingly, Trump came in fourth in “one of the most famously evangelical Republican precincts in the country” — Liberty University’s precinct in Lynchburg, Va., according to FiveThirtyEight. This despite the fact that Liberty President Jerry Fallwell Jr. had endorsed Trump after the candidate spoke on campus.

And leading up to Super Tuesday, evangelical pastor and best-selling author Max Lucado criticized the public’s support for Trump, while Russell Moore, the Southern Baptist Convention ethicist, alluded to it as one of the reasons he no longer wants to be called an evangelical.


RELATED STORY: Falwell’s Trump endorsement criticized by Liberty University board chairman 


Others took to social media as the results rolled in to call out evangelicals’ support for Trump.

One of the questions looming over Super Tuesday, Kinnaman said, was whether Cruz and Sen. Marco Rubio, running neck and neck behind Trump, could distinguish themselves from each other and whether there would be enough pressure to force either to drop out of the race.

“Cruz had more state wins than Rubio did, so the possibility of Cruz sticking in it is very strong,” Kinnaman said.


READ: Evangelicals are making a big mistake (COMMENTARY)


In a speech after winning both Texas and Oklahoma on Tuesday, Cruz asked the other candidates who hadn’t won any states or a significant number of delegates to “prayerfully consider” coming together to support him in order to defeat Trump. Later, it was announced Cruz had won a third state, Alaska, and Rubio had won his first state, Minnesota.

Meantime, Kinnaman said, “It’s showing this is one of the more tribalized elections we’ve encountered.”

Sanders won four states, while former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton also had a big night, winning seven states and 1,055 delegates, by CNN’s count. (While Trump won the same number of states, he gained only 315 delegates).

(Emily McFarlan Miller is an RNS correspondent)

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  • Doc Anthony

    Odd to see Neil DeGrasse Tyson being so concerned about “Who would Jesus vote for.” Why would an atheist celebrity care about who Jesus would vote for?

    If Dr. Tyson is really all that concerned about Jesus, then it’s time for Tyson to abandon his atheism and go hook up with that Jesus. THEN it won’t sound so hypocritical for him to be asking such questions.

  • This article is yet more clear evidence that religion is not harmless. All of society pays a price when religion is allowed to influence us.

  • I’m an evangelical pastor who supports Marco Rubio. How do I feel after Super Tuesday? I haven’t loss hope. You can read my blog post to see why:

    http://parresiazomai.blogspot.com/2016/03/hope-after-super-tuesday.html

  • yoh

    Evangelicals are falling over themselves pretending they have any objections to trump or his agenda beyond the fact he isn’t one of them. They are just saying they are more devout in order to feel superior to the Trumpies. A big draw of fundamentalism is a feeling of smug superiority over others. Here one set of fundies are trying to do so with another set.

  • Jack

    Yoh, reread what you just wrote. It makes no sense at all.

    Try again.

  • Zane

    Exactly, Doc. Jesus would also have a problem with murdering innocent babies in their mother’s wombs. So much for the Jewish New Yorker from Vermont.

  • Jackie

    I can’t understand how any Christian could support a man who espouses murder and torture of other peoples, even innocent children are not excluded. It is definitely un-Christian. The problem with Christians is the same problem of other religionists – hypocrisy. There may be many religions and denominations, but there is only one God of all. God is the creator of man, all men, unless you have made yourself. No man can create – neither himself nor others. The hated Samaritans of Jesus time accepted him as Christ when his own people would not. We have no right to make any man “unclean.”