What do American social conservatives believe
Donald Trump needs every vote for his re-election. Especially among white evangelicals and conservative Catholics. But, of all people, his support is waning from his regular electorate.
Benjamin Horbowy stands firmly by the president's side in the middle of the Donald Trump storm. The 37-year-old from Tallahassee, Florida is excited about Trump's Bible photo in front of St. John's Episcopal Church in Washington just two weeks ago. The evangelical interprets Trump's visit to church as the victory of good against evil, which he had the police cleared of with tear gas and rubber bullets.
"He's taking a walk in Jericho," Benjamin's mother explains to the Guardian about the President's actions, which Trump accused of abusing religion for his politics. In the Old Testament book of Joshua, God commands the Israelites to circle the city of Jericho seven times so that its walls collapse.
Like the Horbowys, many evangelicals and social conservatives see Trump as a guarantor for enforcing religious law in secular law. But in the midst of the crisis of pandemic, economic slump and nationwide anti-racism protests, parts of evangelicals and Catholics are turning away from Trump. Something is moving.
Demonstrations against racism and police violence
Mitt Romney was the first Republican Senator to take part in the demonstrations against racism and police violence last week. When asked why he was marching, the devout Mormon replied, "Because black lives matter."
The 90-year-old veteran of the Christian right, Pat Robertson, also writes this into the family book of the president. The founder of the "Christian Coalition", who has had excellent contacts with the president since the 1990s, criticizes Trump's threat to the military. "You just don't do that," said the evangelical on his TV show "The 700 Club".
According to surveys, the unconditional solidarity with Trump is noticeably decreasing among evangelicals. The Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI) observed a drop in approval ratings among white evangelicals from almost 80 percent in March to just 62 percent at the end of May. Trump gambled away part of his support in just a few weeks, it said.
Even among white Catholics, Trump's sympathy ratings fell by 27 percent over the same period, according to PRRI. Analysts do not consider the loss of votes for his challenger Joe Biden to be the biggest problem, but rather the melting of his regular electorate. In November it is about how many supporters could still feel motivated to vote.
Trump's advisors are concerned about the president's loss of reputation in his strongholds, according to the New York Times. A shift in the socially conservative camp with potentially serious consequences.
So far, the Christian right has forgiven Trump almost everything: his poor knowledge of the Bible, his rare visits to church services or his vicious private life. You support him because he puts religious freedom at the center of his politics, appoints conservative judges for the Supreme Court and because he stands behind the Pro Life movement, which wants to overthrow the fundamental judgment "Roe v. Wade", which made abortions a private matter. The President never tires of praising himself as the champion of the believers. "I've done so much for religion," he praises himself again and again. But this time he could have gone too far.
On the other hand, Trump now received support from an unexpected source: The former Vatican ambassador to the USA, Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano, described the clashes of the last few months as a battle of biblical proportions in an open letter on Sunday. The majority of the "children of light" fight against the minority of the "children of darkness" who wanted the overthrow of the president, according to Vigano, one of the sharpest spokesmen for the radical conservative minority in the Catholic hierarchy. Trump tweeted on Wednesday evening that he felt "very honored" by the "incredible letter from Archbishop Vigano". And: "Everyone, believer or not, should read it!"
Still, Trump needs voters like Benjamin Horbowy: "I believe this is a president who wears the full armor of God." Whether that will help him stay in the White House in November is more up to date than ever.
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