Evangelicals Are More Forgiving Of The President — When He’s White

By on September 18, 2017

Evangelical Christians should, by the nature of their religious convictions, be a forgiving lot. “Turn the other cheek” is just one line of several others Jesus Christ says in the Bible that encourages Christians to forgive. Another line goes something like this:

If you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.

Matthew 6:14-15

Religion shouldn’t play a huge role in our political preferences, but for some people, including many Evangelical Christians, it cannot be avoided. So at times, it’s interesting to see that their teachings don’t always align with their political attitudes toward figures in power, especially on the issue of forgiveness — and it’s also interesting to note that hypocrisy (a trait that Jesus Christ Himself abhorred) plays a large part in their political leanings.

A chart originating from the New York Times (and based on data from the Public Religion Research Institute) details how Evangelicals viewed forgiving the president at different points between 2011 and 2016, with some pretty surprising results — and a noticeable gap.

The chart above asks followers of Christianity whether personal transgressions of the president prevent them from conducting their official state business. While Obama was president, only 30 percent of Evangelicals believed a president could still perform his duties if such transgressions came up.

Fast-forward to when Trump ran for office, as a candidate who was the antithesis of Obama (clouded with personal transgressions) and you can see that Christians in the U.S. overall allowed themselves to compromise their opinions from just five years earlier to allow themselves to throw support behind Trump.

Evangelical Christians in particular made a tremendous swing — with 72 percent of them now believing that a president with personal transgressions can still perform his duties, a 40 percent turnaround from how many believed that before. It’s a revealing change in opinion, one that happens to align with a change in skin complexion from one president to the next — but surely, that’s just a coincidence, right?