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Trump is a huge ‘loser’ with GOP Protestant pastors

Revelations-Series-Banner-770x150(RNS) Donald Trump, who loves to call others “losers,” is a big one himself in a new survey of U.S. Protestant pastors.

When LifeWay Research, an evangelical polling group, asked Republican pastors in mid-January who their pick would be if they were voting that very day, Trump was named by only 5 percent.

“Undecided” was the big winner with more than a third of GOP pastors (39 percent) in the survey. Indeed, 48 percent overall said they had no top choice in this “bizarre election season,” said LifeWay Research executive director Ed Stetzer.

Trump’s poor showing with pastors — despite his roaring popularity with voters — shows “a huge gap between the pulpit and the pew,” said Stetzer.

RELATED STORY: What do 2016 election contenders believe? Check the RNS ‘5 faith facts’ series

The top Republican choice by those who did name someone was Sen. Ted Cruz (29 percent). He has stumped in Iowa citing his Baptist preacher father’s dramatic conversion to faith. He was first pick among both evangelical and mainline Protestant pastors.

The findings reflect that “Protestant pastors tend to be more conservative than the population as a whole. And they are far more evangelical than they are mainline,” said Stetzer.

So many are undecided, he said, because they’re busy pastoring, not tracking politics. “Plus, they’re not in Iowa so they don’t have to decide yet.”

For those Republican pastors who did decide, Ben Carson, a Seventh-day Adventist, came in second  (10 percent) with a strong base among evangelicals. He was followed by Sen. Marco Rubio (8 percent), a Catholic who has been advertising his Christian devotion in Iowa.

Gov. John Kasich, former Gov. Jeb Bush and Gov. Chris Christie fell into the catch-all “others” category with less than 2 percent each.

Pastors who say they’re Democrats were more decisive: 38 percent picked former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

But Sen. Bernie Sanders (at 23 percent) fell behind the undecided (31 percent). And former Gov. Martin O’Malley couldn’t muster more than 2 percent.

Of the 1,000 Protestants surveyed, 54 percent said they are Republican, 23 percent were independent and 14 percent said they are Democrats.

The research was conducted Jan. 8-22. It has a margin of error of plus or minus 2.1 percentage points.

Ted Cruz is the favorite presidential candidate of Protestant pastors who lean Republican. Hillary Clinton leads among Democratic pastors. And Donald Trump is near the back of the pack. But “Undecided” is by far the most popular choice of America’s pastors according to a new telephone survey of 1,000 Protestant senior pastors from Nashville-based LifeWay Research. Photo courtesy of LifeWay Research

“Undecided” is by far the most popular choice of America’s pastors according to a new telephone survey of 1,000 Protestant senior pastors from Nashville-based LifeWay Research. Photo courtesy of LifeWay Research



About the author

Cathy Lynn Grossman

Cathy Lynn Grossman specializes in stories drawn from research and statistics on religion, spirituality and ethics. She also writes frequently on biomedical ethics and end-of-life-issues


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  • Ms. Grossman’s report is perfectly timed after yesterday’s RNS article, “Voters warm to candidates who are not religious”.

    Though I don’t agree at all with the other cited candidates’ immoral invasion and subordination of strangers’ lives, at least their positions are consistent with the supposed values of the self-Right-eous voters.

  • Donald Trump may end up being scorned by Catholics as well…

    Most immigrants from Mexico are Catholic. Trump lumped all Mexican immigrants into one group when he said “They’re rapists.” and then later followed it by saying “And I imagine that some of them are good people.” He knew was he doing and should have said “I imagine that some of them are rapists” and also said “I imagine that they (Mexicans) are good people.”

    Secondly, We hear from one of Trump’s biggest supporters:[Ann Coulter] at alan. com:

    Coulter: America must retain its WASP culture [White Anglo-Saxon Protestant]

    Catholics apparently need not apply.

    Katrina Pierson [Trump’s national spokeswoman]:on Twitter: “Just saw a commercial from catholic Church stating that Catholic Church was started by Jesus. I bet they believe that too #sad”

    Catholic bashing from Trump, Coulter and Pierson?

  • What Ms Grossman failed to point out in her article is the possibility that “GOP Pastors” may be as “out-of-touch” with their “base” as is the RNC is with theirs. 🙂

  • This is not about religion. Its about power….
    Now I get it.
    Donalds new found spiritual connection with the evangelical community has lest to do with scripture and more to do with authority. He sounds like he is ready to kick some left wing behind. His new found religious conviction like sheets flapping in the wind are hard to pin down. The life style of this man doesn’t matter it’s the sound of his battling voice that excites all and drowns out everything else.

  • The comment that pastors are more conservative than their parishioners pricked my interest. I would be interested in seeing how the survey was made. Lifeways is clearly identied as a evangelical poling group. I would be interested in seeing how the data breaks out on this. I would suspect that evangelical pastors are more conservative but I wonder about mainline clergy?

  • Before writing a column like this one please do your research first or at least some form of research. Your specialty is not ‘journalism’. It is your opinion first and then molding certain things to fit your opinion and leaving out the rest. We human beings better be quite a bit stronger when we face facts that do not meet our opinion otherwise we join a downward spiraling circle. Be a grown up.

  • I’m relieved to hear that these pastors are not hypocrites like Falwell, who are quick to condemn the “world” while supporting Donald Trump, who is the living embodiment of the very thing they are condemning.

    I read an article recently which interviewed some of the kids attending Falwell’s college, Liberty U. Their responses on why they were for Trump were just pitiful. It sounds like their school is more like a spiritual mausoleum than anything else.

    Spiritual frauds and charlatans like Falwell should quit their jobs and go work as apprentices for their bogus new god, Trump.

  • I can guarantee that Tim Keller, Ann Coulter’s pastor (or perhaps former pastor) does not agree with her on Trump.

    When I used to visit his church, Redeemer Presbyterian, I used to see her there occasionally. I didn’t recall seeing cotton in her ears when she was there, but apparently she wasn’t listening very intently to his thoughtfully presented Gospel messages. She probably was there because Redeemer was the “in” place to be for relatively young Manhattanites who were Christian, Ivy League, and intellectually oriented.

    In better days, she’d be delivered a good caning for her insolent attitude.

  • As a pretty severe social and political conservative, who nevertheless recognizes that we’re all in this together, I don’t see how any sincere evangelical can favor Trump, except as an unhappy consequence of the revulsion felt at the thought of the lying, duplicitous, unscrupulous, chameleon and harridan, Hilary Clinton as chief executive of this nation. But then after all, we generally get the executive we deserve.

  • American evangelicals are not the brightest bulbs in the world, and are far too lazy to understand that just because Trump is against the left, that doesn’t mean he’s any good.

  • All you’re saying, Steve, is that nothing happens in life without God letting it happen. But that doesn’t mean it’s His perfect will for it to occur.

    If God wants Trump to be president, there are really only two explanations. Either God is finished with America and will use this reprobate to torment us, or God is about to change Trump’s “life” (if you want to call it that) by changing his heart.

  • I agree. I am not a fan at all of trump. But I will seek God, vote and trust the Lord. We are living in the last days. God used pharaoh to accomplish his will. He will use who ever he needs to.

  • Remembering this is just an article of opinion… Looking at the poll 39% of GOP were undecided… This poll then means really nothing…except indecision. We have to hold out to the end as things are revealed to us thru the primaries. Sort out the truth….sift …sift….Listen for Truth…If the truth is loud or offends you , then go ahead and join the pharacees . No man is perfect.