There was a post on Twitter relating to this article which said that maybe the evangelical voting bloc might not be so monolithic as we think, which almost goes without saying, voting blocs are rarely monolithic. But the article goes onto a very interesting, though somewhat unstated conclusion.
The article is talking about why “evangelicals” are voting for Trump, rather than say, Ted Cruz as Trump is “not an evangelical Christian, and neither his personal background nor his policy proposals seem like a very good fit for religious conservatives.” Which I, like many others have noticed and wondered about. But that is not the fishy part.
First, the author puts out what I would call the “standard math.”
The term “evangelical” is an excellent case in point. In the very broadest sense, this refers to anyone with a personal relationship to Jesus. The Pew Research Center says 30 percent of Americans identify as evangelicals or as born again, which is about 96 million people. (For comparison, 127 million people voted in the last presidential election.)
Now, I do have some quibbles with those numbers, the 30 percent is pretty high compared to the latest Pew survey and extrapolates the numbers to the entire US population rather than the adult population, overestimating (at first) the number of “Evangelicals.”
But then he does cite a Barna survey which asks about specific beliefs which finds that only about 10% of the population qualifies as “true” Evangelicals. He himself apparently interviewed a large number of people who identified as Bible Believing Christians who “believe the Bible to be literally true, and virtually none of them ever read it.” Which is something any atheist can already tell you about most “Christians.”
He then goes on to say (basically) that it is those “fake” Christians who are now flocking to Trump. Which is, of course the root of the “No True Scotsman” logical fallacy. I actually plan to deal with this in a later post. But I draw another conclusion from all of this.
I actually agree with the author (not about who votes for Trump) but rather the depth of support for Christianity.
For example, Gallup asks people what they think of the bible and there are three responses: Literally the word of god; the word of god, but not every word true; and a bunch of fables. Currently about half of the respondents go the middle route, with about 30% going the literalist route.
Here is what I think is happening and will happen. Right now the “word of god” response is the “right answer.” The bible is the “greatest book ever written” and all that. But just about nobody actually reads it. As time goes on the felt social stigma for not believing will decrease, it is already. It will get easier and easier for people to say (to pollsters), “The bible, meh, not so much.” And I think this will happen pretty fast so that we go from “Three in Four in U.S. Still See the Bible as Word of God” to something like “Sixty percent no longer see bible as relevant.”
Mostly because they will just be saying what they really believe, they just aren’t ready to say it yet.