What do conservative Christians think about the Biden campaign’s focus on character and morality?
According to a Pew Research poll released in July, President Donald Trump’s approval rating with white Evangelical Christians remains high, with 59% of them approving of Trump’s handling of the job and about 8 in 10 claiming they would vote to reelect him in November.
But not all demographic groups that identify as Christian support the president in such large numbers. Black protestants, for instance, overwhelmingly disapprove of President Donald Trump, with only 7% approving of him.
Surveying the level of support for the president from groups that identify as Christian, regardless of race, reveals that 57% of Catholics disapproved of Trump in late June. Overall, 49% of Christians throughout the country disapproved of the president, with only 37% reporting that they approved of him.
However, the same poll noted that a majority of Christians still planned to vote for Trump over Joe Biden, his Democratic challenger, with 55% reporting that they would vote for Trump and 43% saying they would vote for Biden.
Demonstrating Christians’ general support for Trump despite the nuances reflected in sect and ethnic background, the overall number of voters polled in the United States who said they would vote for Trump was a nearly identical swap with the polling numbers specifically from Christians.
Among all US adults, 54% said they expected to vote for Biden in November and 44% said they planned to vote for Trump. In the US, about 65% of Americans identified as Christian in 2019, by far the largest religious demographic group.
About 12% fewer Americans now call themselves Christians compared to 2009, reflecting an ongoing decrease in those who claim adherence to Christianity over the past several decades.
Biden’s focus on character and morality
Throughout his campaign for president and into the Democratic National Convention, Joe Biden has sought to paint a stark contrast between himself and President Donald Trump in terms of what he can offer the nation from an ethical standpoint.
In doing so, Biden has repeatedly characterized the election as “a battle for the soul of the nation.” During his party nomination speech last Thursday, Biden doubled down on this line of argument, saying that he will be “an ally of the light” instead of the darkness and “draw on the best of us instead of the worst.”
The conservative Christian case against Biden
For Ryan Cook, a Utah Christian who leans conservative, Biden’s focus on ethics seems little more than rhetoric given the policies his party generally supports, including abortion and some on the progressive left’s calls to defund the police.
However, Cook also doesn’t plan to vote for Trump.
“As far as the morality element of the left’s campaign goes, it often feels quite self righteous and self congratulatory, and I think it’s largely just virtue signaling,” he told TMS. “Yes, Trump is basically just an arrogant junior high bully who does a horrible job of representing decent people … but that hardly makes the democratic leaders any more palatable,” he added.
For other Christians, focusing on Trump’s moral failings should not be the whole point.
Paul J. Joseph, a communications professor at Methodist University in North Carolina, told TMS that although character matters, his faith has taught him that imperfect actions can be forgiven through Jesus.
He also suggested that many great men have done terrible things in the past only to be later used as an instrument of God.
“From a Christian perspective … we live in a fallen world and all of us are hopelessly steeped in sin, from thought to word to deed. Has Trump done some bad things? Of course he has … but the same could also be said for Biden and his family,” he said.
“Here is the difference. As a Christian, a few critical things happen. First, God has forgiven my sins … second, once I have accepted Christ, the Holy Spirit moves into my heart and begins to make changes. Some of the greatest Christians I have ever known have done things in their pasts that I can’t imagine!” Joseph continued, citing Paul the Apostle as someone whose past actions were later redeemed by God.
According to the Christian tradition, before becoming one of Jesus’s disciples, Paul the Apostle persecuted followers of Jesus and called for their punishment and ostracism from society.
Christians against Trump
While many Christians support the president, others argue that his policies and behavior are unbecoming of support from the religiously-inclined.
According to a source who preferred to only go by the name of Daniel, the election is more than just a battle over the soul of the nation, it is also a battle over the state of American Christianity.
“Trump is no ally to Christianity; he’s a manipulator of it,” he argued.
“I don’t necessarily believe Biden is any great ally to our faith, either, but he’s given me no reason to believe he’ll corrupt the very core of our community for his own gain, and that’s just one of many reasons he’s got my vote, and the votes of many unacknowledged Christians who have been drowned out by all the noise emanating from Trump’s Twitter feed.”
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