Bloc Buster: Pew Debunks Evangelical Voter Myths

Bloc Buster: Pew Debunks Evangelical Voter Myths

November 27, 2018

The mainstream media may not understand evangelicals, but they're no mystery to Alan Cooperman. The director of religion research at Pew has been studying their voting patterns for years, and he's got news for the press: they've got it all wrong.

In a special event at Miami Beach, Cooperman took time to help piece together the puzzle of white evangelicals at the Faith Angle Forum. Armed with brand new midterm data, he had some fascinating numbers to share about America's religious vote. Samuel Smith, who covered the panel for the Christian Post, did us all a favor by transcribing the bulk of Cooperman's talk -- not just on the elections of 2018, but on the trends of the last several years. And if you're one of the millions of people who tuned in for the media's analysis of November 6, prepare to be surprised. Evangelical voters, Cooperman will tell you, aren't going anywhere.

Myth 1: Evangelicals are turning liberal or turning against Trump

Obviously, that's the juicy narrative the media is selling -- but is it true? Cooperman says no. This is a voting bloc, he points out, with "a lot of stability." "Right up before the election, aggregated data from our polls over the last several months [showed] 71 percent approval rating for the president [among white evangelicals]," the Pew expert explained. "If anything, party ID among white evangelical Protestants is trending more Republican. This notion that white evangelical Protestants are turning liberal ... I don't see it anywhere." That shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone, really. President Trump continues to do the things he promised on core values like life, religious liberty, the persecuted church, the Supreme Court, privacy, and even tough issues like transgenderism in the military. If anything, he's amped up his work, confirming a record number of judges, tackling tough HHS regulations, beefing up conscience protections, and defending Christians overseas.

Myth 2: Younger evangelicals are more liberal and are turning Democratic

"They are [saying] the youth and young evangelical Protestants are much more liberal than their elders," Cooperman explained. And on some cultural issues, that might be true. But, he pointed out, the number of white evangelical millennials who call themselves Republican or Republican-leaning has actually gone up since 2014. Four years ago, 66 percent of millennial evangelicals called the GOP home. Now, that number is 77 percent -- at least of millennial white evangelical Protestants. Cooperman, who has the benefit of Pew's several years of data, was insistent: he doesn't see a "clear line in which the younger generations are more Democratic-leaning than the older generations." "It is not true among white evangelicals," he went on. "...It is not true among white mainline. It's not true among black Protestants. It's not true among white Catholics. It's not especially true among Hispanic Catholics." The only group, Smith reported, that saw any sort of spike in Democratic-leaners were the "religiously unaffiliated."

Myth 3: "Real evangelicals" are not supportive of Trump

"I am looking at the data, and I can't find that to be the case." That was Cooperman's blunt assessment of the religious Left's claim. If you're going by actual church attendance, "The so-called 'real evangelicals' -- the people who are actually in the pews -- their approval rates for Donald Trump are just as high as among the self-identified evangelicals who aren't in church or aren't there as often." In fact, there's just a five-point difference in how regular churchgoers (73 percent) like Trump's job performance over the white evangelicals who don't worship as often (68 percent).

Myth 4: White evangelicals are abandoning the 'evangelical' label

This is a line we've heard a lot, especially lately. Evangelicals, some analysts say, are starting to reject the label. "I can find people who will tell me that. But I don't see it in the data," Cooperman told the crowd of mostly journalists. Although he says it's "absolutely true" that the number of U.S. adults who identify as white evangelicals has been declining, that's because the portion of U.S. adults who are white and Christian is dropping -- not because voters are walking away from the term. The percentage of white people who call themselves "evangelical" is actually, he points out, quite "stable." "...[E]vangelical identity does not appear to be dwindling," Cooperman confirmed.

That will come as a relief to some; a source of consternation to others -- but ultimately it is validation of the role you play in American politics as a values voter. Every election, the liberal press seems to trot out the same tired talking points about the evangelical movement, desperately hoping that their warnings about our waning political influence will come true. Thanks to Pew, maybe now we can finally put some of those lies to rest.

Tony Perkins' Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC senior writers.

'My People Look to the United States for Hope'

November 27, 2018

The days of herding up people like cattle and sending them away to torture camps were supposed to die with World War II. Unfortunately for the Chinese, they're as real today as ever. In one of the greatest human catastrophes no one is talking about, as many as a million Muslim minorities are living in echoes of the 1940s Germany. And without the West's help, it shows no sign of stopping.

For Kayrat Samarkand, one of the survivors of China's mass internment camps, he can't take a single step without remembering what happened to him. His legs, which had been broken by kidnappers years before, still hurt. He lived through that, only to find himself transferred to one of the country's new "re-education" centers as an adult, along with thousands of other Muslims and people who grew up in Muslim families.

From 6 a.m. every morning, detainees were ordered to sing along to songs played over the camp's PA system, praising China's Communist Party." Kayrat says everyone was "forced to memorize a list of what he calls '126 lies' about religion: 'Religion is opium, religion is bad, you must believe in no religion, you must believe in the Communist Party.' 'Only [the] Communist Party could lead you to the bright future.'" "They made me wear what they called 'iron clothes,' a suit made of metal that weighed over 50 pounds," he told NPR. "It forced my arms and legs into an outstretched position. I couldn't move at all, and my back was in terrible pain." After a half-day of it, he said he would do whatever he was asked. At one point, he tried to kill himself by banging his head against the wall. He woke up in a hospital.

Stories like Kayrat's aren't rare. At a roundtable at the National Press Club yesterday, 278 scholars from 26 countries pleaded with world leaders to intervene. Mihrigul Tursun, a Uyghur woman, talked about being beaten and tortured like other Muslim minorities at a holding center in the Xinjiang region. Although Chinese officials have been silent about their brutal crackdown on hundreds of thousands of Uyghurs, satellite images and other paper trails prove the existence of as many as 1,200 camps. Then, of course, there's the supply line. "Authorities in the Hotan prefecture, for instance, ordered 2,768 police batons, 550 electric cattle prods, 1,367 pairs of handcuffs, and 2,792 cans of pepper spray for such centers in 2018."

It's a tragedy of epic proportions – one that Vice President Mike Pence, Ambassador Sam Brownback, and this Congress have been committed to stopping. In the Senate, Marco Rubio (R-Fla.)'s Uyghur Human Rights Policy Act has overwhelming Republican and Democratic backing. Together, the parties are calling on President Trump to condemn the abuses and use his leverage to force the closure of these camps. "Chinese government officials should be held accountable for their complicity in this evil, and U.S. businesses should be barred from helping China create a high-tech police state in Xinjiang," said Rep. Chris Smith (R-N.J.), who's sponsoring the House version of the legislation.

President Trump will have the chance to raise the issue as early as Friday, when he'll be face to face with Chinese President Xi Jinping at a summit in Buenos Aires. The White House, which is already considering a hike in tariffs, could make the issue even more painful for China by levying sanctions. Mihrigul Tursun certainly hopes the administration will use whatever means necessary to end the suffering. "My people look to the United States as the beacon of hope for the oppressed people around the world," she said yesterday. "I hope that the U.S. will lead the world community to condemn China's gross violations of universally recognized human rights."

Tony Perkins' Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC senior writers.

No Greater Love

November 27, 2018

It's been almost two weeks since John Allen Chau climbed in a kayak halfway around the world, determined to reach the shore of a tiny island in the middle of the ocean. His whole life he'd been determined to live out the words of Jesus in the Great Commission -- to go and make disciples of all nations. He died on North Sentinel Island trying.

Losing John, so full of life and potential at 26, would be a tragedy in any circumstance. But in this young missionary's case, the world didn't just lose a warm and engaging soul. It also lost sight of the kind of conviction that drives Christians to take risks like his. In the days since John was killed by the Sentinelese tribe -- so isolated that Indian law makes it a crime to visit -- the chasm between the evangelical worldview and the rest of the country has never been clearer.

Sixty-two years ago, when five missionaries were speared to death in Ecuador, Americans were shocked and saddened. Sympathetic stories were written in high-profile magazines like Life. People may not have agreed with Jim Elliot's decision to try to reach the violent tribe, but they understood what compelled him. Now, more than a half a century later, we seem to have lost even a basic appreciation for what drove John to sacrifice his life. Instead of compassion, his death has been met by contempt. In places like the Wall Street Journal, John's life vision is smeared as reckless, foolish, and futile.

"Given the symbolism, and the obvious tragedy of his death, there will be those who ascribe nobility to Chau, and courage... But go easy on the romance of Chau and his messy, martyred end. He broke Indian law by entering the country on a tourist visa while pursuing an evangelical mission." Yes, he broke the law -- an ill-advised, isolationist policy that keeps the Sentinelese trapped in a world of hostility and fear. A law that's become a barrier to anyone reaching them. But, as John knew, there was a higher law than man's -- God's. And while the culture may reject it, our mandate is to the take the name of Jesus Christ to the ends of the earth, whether that's on a remote island or in a cubicle at work.

"You guys might think I'm crazy in all this," he wrote to his family before he died, "but I think it's worthwhile to declare Jesus to these people. Please do not be angry at them or at God if I get killed." This wasn't the rash decision of a publicity-seeking adventurer. "Every decision he has made in the last eight, nine years has been to equip him to love and to care for the North Sentinelese," said Dr. Mary Ho of All Nations. "He was extremely well-prepared in every way. So that is why we supported him."

"Leave the inhabitants of North Sentinel Island alone," fumed Tunku Varadarajan. But that's one thing true evangelism cannot do. "'Leave North Sentinel Island alone' makes perfect sense if what you believe about God has nothing to do with your eternal fate," Thomas Kidd tried to explain. "If there is no afterlife (or if we can't know anything about the afterlife) then what Chau was doing was the height of foolishness..." But, the Federalist's Stephen Roberts writes, "To protect a dying people in the name of culture is not only no protection, it is the height of cruelty and barbarism... It is better to die at the sharp edge of truth and in the bitter throes of compassion than to live in such a malaise."

The transcendent truth and love of Christ belongs to everyone. John believed that with his life. That may make him radical to some, but it doesn 't make him reckless. This is a young person who sacrificed himself for the highest purpose. He was a son, uncle, brother, and friend who left the most important legacy of all: taking up his cross and following Jesus -- wherever that may be.

Tony Perkins' Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC senior writers.

Tony Perkins' Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC senior writers.

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