Trump-loving evangelicals have completely changed their views of the importance of a president’s personal morality in the time between Bill Clinton was in the White House and now, two political scientists argue.
Writing in the Washington Post, Notre Dame professors David Campbell and Geoffrey Layman say that evangelicals’ shifting views of personal morality have been shockingly abrupt and they coincide with Trump’s political rise from a reality TV star to the presidency.
“In 2011, a poll conducted by the Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI) and the Religion News Service found that 60 percent of white evangelicals believed that a public official who ‘commits an immoral act in their personal life’ cannot still ‘behave ethically and fulfill their duties in their public and professional life,'” they write. “But in an October 2016 poll by PRRI and the Brookings Institution… only 20 percent of evangelicals, answering the same question, said that private immorality meant someone could not behave ethically in public.”
While there have been shifts among other religious groups over that period, they write, none of them has been as sharp as the shift among white evangelicals — which explains why they aren’t phased when Democratic candidates such as Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg call Trump the “porn star president.”
“In short, party loyalty is the driving force here,” they write. “White evangelicals as a group are less concerned about private immorality when Trump is involved than when Clinton is involved because they are overwhelmingly Republican.”