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of Pastors Approve of Trumps Job Performance -
A slim majority of pastors say they approve of the job President Donald Trump has done in the White House, but many are unsure.
A new study from Nashville-based LifeWay Research of Protestant senior pastors found 51 percent approve of how Trump has handled the presidency, with 25 percent strongly approving.
After almost two years of actions and statements from the White House, most pastors likely consider some positive and others negative, said Scott McConnell, executive director of LifeWay Research.
When asked to evaluate the presidents job performance with no neutral option, most pastors approve.
Still, almost 3 in 10 (28%) disapprove, and another 2 in 10 (20%) say they arent sure.
Pastors were specifically prompted to evaluate the presidents job performance, said McConnell. There is no lack of data on President Trump, but many were still hesitant to give an opinion.
Compared to the middle of President Obamas first term, we see twice as many pastors say theyre undecided on President Trumps job performance, said McConnell.
In the leadup to the 2010 midterm elections, a LifeWay Research survey found 30 percent of Protestant pastors approved of President Obamas job performance. More than 6 in 10 (61%) disapproved, and only 9 percent said they were not sure.
There is no lack of information on what President Trump is doing or how he is doing it, said McConnell, so the undecided posture appears to be an unwillingness to identify with either of the political sides that have emerged in American politics.
The hesitancy of pastors to take sides where Trump is concerned stretches back to the presidential election.
Despite 52 percent of Protestant pastors identifying as a Republican and only 18 percent calling themselves a Democrat in a LifeWay Research survey prior to the November 2016 election, only 32 percent said they planned to vote for Trump. A full 40 percent said they were undecided, with 19 percent planning to vote for Hillary Clinton.
Politically Divided Pastors
Pastors opinions on President Trumps performance highlight divisions among the group, which often fall along political lines.
African American pastors are the least likely to approve of the presidents handling of the job. Only 4 percent approve of his performance, while 85 percent disapprove.
Outside of African Americans, pastors are much more split. Slightly more than half of white pastors (54%) approve, along with slightly less than half of pastors of other ethnicities (47%).
In 2016, only 6 percent of African American pastors identified as Republican, said McConnell, and nothing in President Trumps first two years has generated approval from African American pastors beyond that level.
Younger pastors are the least likely age group to approve of the presidents performance. Four in 10 (41%) of those ages 18 to 44 say Trump has done a good job, while 56 percent of those ages 45 and older say likewise.
Those young pastors are also more likely to say theyre not sure about the president. A quarter are unsure, compared with 18 percent of pastors ages 55 to 64 and 16 percent of pastors ages 65 and older.
In 2016, pastors ages 18 to 44 were the least likely to identify with a political party and least likely to support Trump as a candidate, said McConnell.
They are less tied to traditional political identities and remain slow to express approval of President Trump.
Pastors responses are also split across denominations. Pentecostals (86%) and Baptists (68%) are most likely to approve of the presidents performance.
Church of Christ pastors (55%) and Lutherans (41%) are more split, while few Presbyterian/Reformed (28%) and Methodists (25%) say they support the job President Trump has done.
Even in these denominational divides, the views of the presidents performance largely follow political leanings, according to McConnell.
In 2016, pastors in Pentecostal (76%) and Baptist (67%) churches were most likely to be Republicans. Pastors in Presbyterian/Reformed (29%) and Methodist (25%) churches were least likely to say theyre part of the GOP.
Other findings in 2018 include:
With the majority of Protestant pastors identifying as Republican, it is not surprising that a majority approve of President Trump in his first term, said McConnell.
Clearly, pastors political views factor in
how they evaluate the presidents leadership and
accomplishments in the first half of his term.
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