Evangelicals Respond to Election of Donald Trump as Next President of United States

Donald Trump
(Photo : Gage Skidmore / Flickr / CC) Donald Trump at a rally in Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Phoenix, AZ in June 2016.

Donald Trump has been elected to be the next President of the United States, winning 279 electoral votes on Tuesday. Hillary Clinton won 228 electoral votes.

According to exit poll results, a large majority — 81 percent — of evangelicals voted for Trump. And evangelicals had much to say on the night of and the morning after the elections. Some weighed in on what it was that made Trump appealing to evangelicals.

“It isn’t that folks liked him more than previous candidates,” Tony Perkins, the president of the Family Research Council, said on Twitter on Tuesday night. “They were mobilized by what’s at stake & the clear contrast w/Hillary on life.”

The factors that some evangelicals cited as reasons for their support for Trump may be among the implications of Trump’s newly won election. For instance, Trump has defended religious freedom during his campaign. Trump said he would nominate conservative Supreme Court Justices. He said he would repeal the Johnson Amendment. He has expressed he is pro-life. Trump has been friendly towards Israel and has said in October that he would move the US embassy from its current post in Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

“While I have often registered doubts about what the term ‘evangelical’ means in polls, the strength of the old Religious Right has clearly not been exhausted,” commented Thomas S. Kidd, professor at Baylor University, on an article in The Gospel Coalition.

“Part of the reason for this enduring strength is that conservative Christians were scared and scarred by threats to religious liberty of the past eight years, ranging from pressure against Christian colleges and Christian groups on campuses, to threats of punishments for organizations and institutions that do not toe the line on the HHS abortifacient mandate and gay marriage,” Kidd continued. “Even for Never Trumpers, there has always been a notion that if somehow he got elected, he could actually turn out to be helpful on matters such as the right to life, and religious liberty, if he follows through on his promise to appoint Scalia-like judges.”

However, evangelicals who opposed Trump cited his unpredictability and the numerous times in which Trump changed positions throughout his campaign. They also pointed to doubts about his character and morality -- due to his comments about women, as well as other religious and ethnic groups -- which do not align with evangelical values.

Still, Trump supporting or not, there was a widespread effort to remain hopeful among most evangelicals who voiced their opinions on the elections. Many called for unity and cooperation.

“This election has been long, it’s been tough, and it’s been divisive. It’s time to put that behind us,” said Franklin Graham on Facebook. “Now is the time to come together in unity and work together.”

“This isn’t the time to point fingers and say ‘I told you so,’ or to assign blame. We need each other more than ever, and the lines that divided us over these last few months cannot be allowed to grow deeper,” Ed Stetzer, executive director of LifeWay Research, wrote in Christianity Today. “It is time to heal, and remember that we are called to forgive even the deepest slights. No matter what side of the aisle we were on — or even if we were sitting on the sidelines or in the middle — we all wanted something better for our country these past 18 months. But we seek a different and better place altogether, and we stand united in that.”

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