The number of white Americans who identified as evangelical Christians grew during former President Donald Trump's administration, according to the Pew Research Center.
Contrary to a belief among some people that Trump would cause an exodus from the church, new Pew Research Center survey data finds that there has been no large-scale departure from evangelicalism among white Americans.
Instead, there was solid evidence that white Americans who viewed Trump favorably and did not identify as evangelicals in 2016 were much more likely than white Trump skeptics to begin identifying as born-again or evangelical Protestants by 2020.
A total of 25% of white Americans identified themselves as born-again or evangelical Protestants in 2016. Four years later, 29% of them described themselves that way, according to Pew.
Pew found that 16% of white Americans who did not identify as evangelical in 2016 but expressed a warm view of Trump went on to identify themselves as evangelical in 2020.
Among self-identified white evangelical voters, 60% supported Trump in both 2016 and 2020, and 18% of them voted for Trump in 2020 after not doing so four years earlier.
Only 9% of white evangelical voters defected from Trump between 2016-20.
Among non-white respondents who participated in both the 2016 and 2020 surveys, 26% identified as born-again/evangelical Protestants in 2016, and 25% identified this way in 2020.
The Pew survey only measured whether or not Americans identified as evangelical Christians, not whether they practiced actively.
Franklin Graham, president of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association and the global charity Samaritan's Purse, was asked by Fox News what the Pew survey meant for the argument that Trump's presidency weakened evangelical Christianity.
"I don’t think the numbers support it, do they?" said Graham, a long-time Trump supporter.
Graham added that Trump fulfilled his promises to protect Christians. He hailed Trump as a champion of religious freedom for people of all faith, including Jews, Hindus, and Muslims.
"I've seen Democrats and Republicans in the past give lip service to people of faith, but they really don't want people of faith around them," Graham said. "Trump welcomed people of faith."
R. Albert Mohler Jr., president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, said the Pew poll shows the strength of evangelical Christianity, beyond politics.
"Cries of evangelical decline are fed by the theological Left and by liberal academics and media sources who are singing the same song they have sung since the 1970s," Mohler told Fox News. "They hope that by saying evangelicals are in decline that they can make it so."
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