In 2016, Donald J. Trump defied expectations by winning not only the Evangelical vote, but a wide majority of the Catholic vote as well. It was a hopeful sign that American voters might be awakening to threats against the unborn, morality, and our first freedom: Religious liberty.
But our analysis of a stunning new poll by the Pew Research Center shows that popular support for religious liberty may be far greater than even the 2016 election indicated.
In fact, judging from how Americans feel about our nation’s religious institutions, the Trump administration has an absolute mandate to defend religious freedom.
Pew Poll: Our Analysis
The Pew Center asked Americans whether they thought religious institutions had a “positive or negative effect on the way things are going in the country.”
Happily, conservative Republicans reported a positive view of religious institutions, 75-to-12. Liberal Democrats: Negative, 44-to-40. A stark contrast.
But here is the surprise: The anti-religious Left is alone.
Moderate Republicans reported a positive view of churches, 68-to-20. And moderate Democrats: Positive, 58-29!
This puts moderate Democrats only 18 points behind moderate Republicans in their positive assessment of religious institutions (58-68). And moderate Republicans, in turn, are only seven points short of conservatives Republicans (68-75).
An emerging consensus in favor of religion playing a role in shaping our country’s future!
Religion Unites Americans (Except the Far Left)
Only a small minority of Americans reported a negative view of religious institutions. The overall population feels that Churches have a positive effect on the direction of our country by a margin of 59-to-26.
Here, the ideological disconnect between the far Left and the majority of the country couldn’t be more clear.
Only 12 percent of conservative Republicans reported a negative view of churches. Moderate Republicans: Only 20 percent. Moderate Democrats: 29 percent.
But a full 43 percent of liberal Democrats believe religious institutions have a negative effect on our country. There is only a 9-point difference between moderate Democrats and moderate Republicans (29-20), but a 14-point difference between liberal Democrats and moderate Democrats (43-29).
So when it comes to religious institutions, moderate Democrats now have more in common with moderate Republicans than they do with the anti-religious far-Left.
This again leaves liberal Democrats out in the cold, nearly 20 points more anti-religious than the general public (43-26), and far more anti-religious than even moderate Democrats—the far Left’s closest would-be allies.
What this Means for Democrats
When Democrats couldn’t get through a convention without booing the mention of God (2012) or heckling a preacher’s opening prayer, it looked ugly to the American people. All, that is, except for the far Left, which the Pew poll shows to be totally out of touch with a majority of Americans.
When Democrats ran a presidential candidate who openly said “deep-seated cultural codes, religious beliefs and structural biases have to be changed” in order to lay the groundwork for progress, the Party was playing to a bitter minority on the far Left.
When leaked emails revealed Hillary staffers jeered at Catholic converts, who “must be attracted to the systematic thought and severely backwards gender relations,” it became clear that the Clinton campaign was a part of that bitter minority.
No wonder American voters rejected the Democratic Party in 2016.
If the Democratic Party continues to let the anti-religious Left dictate their messaging and policy positions, they will attract only a few to their cause.
The rest of us will just see the Democratic Party as the party that has no respect for our religious institutions, and wants to take away our religious liberty.
What this Means for Republicans
If American voters think religious institutions have a positive effect on the direction of our country, then they wouldn’t want those institutions threatened by attacks on religious liberty.
There is no excuse for timidity. Republicans should energetically defend religious freedom, assured by the knowledge that a majority of Americans think highly of our nation’s religious institutions.
What this Means for the Supreme Court of the United States
This Fall, the Supreme Court of the United States will begin examining a number of momentous religious liberty cases.
Ultimately, they will decide whether LGBT groups have the right to force Christian florists, bakers, and calligraphers to participate in gay “weddings,” against their religious convictions.
Supreme Court decisions on such cases can either defend religious liberty, or set precedents that spell the beginning of the end of the religious institutions that Americans cherish. We hope our Justices keep in mind the will of the American people, rather than impose their own will on us as in the cases of Roe and Obergefell.
What this Means for the Trump Administration
In October of 2016, then-presidential candidate Donald Trump wrote a letter to CatholicVote. “Religious freedom is our First Freedom,” he wrote, “and it must be respected.”
The American people need their president to represent them, and to broadcast their values on the national stage. The Pew polling data proves that we care about religious freedom, and we hope President Trump will use his bully pulpit to echo that without apology.
With every opportunity, whether a Supreme Court vacancy, a visit with our nation’s religious leaders, or a simple weekly address, we hope President Trump will continue to champion the people who voted to preserve the institutions that first made America great, and can make America great again under his leadership.
The 2016 election proved American voters are attracted to a bold defense of our culture and our Judeo-Christian values.
The new Pew Research poll shows us why: We the people want religious liberty.