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Generational split over Trump emerges among evangelicals

Credit: Reuters Studio
Published on December 29, 2019 - Duration: 02:12s

Generational split over Trump emerges among evangelicals

A divide between young evangelicals and their older leaders over support for President Trump is exacerbating a long-term crisis facing U.S. evangelicalism.

Roger Fortuna explains.

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Generational split over Trump emerges among evangelicals

(SOUNDBITE) (English) PASTOR DAVID PLATT, MCLEAN BIBLE CHURCH, SAYING (JUNE 2, 2019): "I ask us to bow our heads together now and pray for our president." That scathing anti-Trump editorial published in the leading evangelical magazine Christianity Today this month is highlighting a deepening rift in the American evangelical community during the Christmas holidays.

(SOUNDBITE) (English) AMERICAN PASTOR ANDREW BRUNSON, SAYING (OCTOBER 13, 2018) "Pour out your holy spirit on President Trump." As president, Donald Trump has given white evangelical leaders a level of political support they haven't enjoyed in decades.

(SOUNDBITE) (English) U.S. PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP, SAYING (MAY 13, 2017): "In America, we don't worship government -- we worship God." Trump won 81% of white evangelical votes in the 2016 election, a powerful part of Trump's base that helped propel an outsider candidate to the White House.

In return, he relocated the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem, which some evangelicals see as the fulfillment of a biblical prophecy.

(SOUNDBITE) (English) U.S. PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP, SAYING (DECEMBER 6, 2017): "Today we finally acknowledge the obvious: that Jerusalem is Israel's capital." And he pushed to exclude gender identity and sexual orientation from protected civil rights, both key issues for some powerful evangelical churches.

Older evangelical leaders are now doubling down on their support of Trump, with nearly 200 leading figures defending the president in the wake of Christianity Today's blistering attack.

But many younger evangelicals are questioning their church leader's seemingly unconditional support for Trump, insisting that his immigration and asylum policies, and his disregard for environmental issues, are immoral.

White evangelical protestants now represent just over a quarter of the U.S. electorate.

But younger evangelicals are abandoning their faith in large numbers.

With the new partisan battle over Trump's impeachment trial in the Senate, many young evangelicals are finding it even more difficult to cozy up to the Republican president, ratcheting up the long-term crisis facing evangelicalism.

Trump has downplayed the growing generational split in his evangelical support.

The Trump campaign announced Friday it would launch "Evangelicals for Trump," a coalition to support the president's 2020 re-election campaign.

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