Why Evangelical Christians Support Trump Research Proposal

Pages: 15 (3909 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 10  ·  Level: Doctoral  ·  Topic: Political Science / Politics

SAMPLE EXCERPT:

[. . .] Jeb Bush lacked the stamina; Cruz lacked the charisma; Rubio lacked the swagger. Trump had the confidence that he could deliver victory: and victory for Trump meant defeat for Hillary and Obama; it meant defeat of the antagonistic political correctness that had threatened to starve out the evangelical spirit of America. Trump indulged this characterization of him as a leader of the marginalized people of America—the forgotten people—the evangelicals. He played up to this idea of being the supporter of Christian traditions that had been replaced in recent years by non-discriminatory, PC slogans. He often hurled insults at the idea of saying, “Happy Holidays!” during the Christmas season. He asked his crowd, “Wouldn’t it be nice to hear people say Merry Christmas again?” And then he would launch into his “Crusader Trump” persona—the fire-brand leader persona that would dare say, “Merry Christmas!” in the face of all the Obamas and Clintons and politically correct anti-Americans of the world. This was, in essence, the type of thing that filled his evangelical base with joy.

It was also the type of thing that filled the enemies of the evangelical base with dread—and this, too, served as a theological rationale for evangelicals to support Trump all the more: the political left despised him.[footnoteRef:11] Judith Roberts gives a sense of the perspective of the kind of Trump opposition that the evangelical base faced: “It wasn’t just that Trump did not seem like a polished politician to me—which I wanted. It wasn’t just that I considered him to be unfit for office—which I did. It also was that all around me from social media and conversations with conservative Christians, voting for Trump was not only American, but it was the Christian thing to do. If I voted for Hillary Clinton, I was voting to abort babies at nine months and supporting soldiers’ deaths in the Benghazi scandal.”[footnoteRef:12] If the perspective of the Roberts is to be understood accurately, it would suggest that Trump’s evangelical base was not so much supporting Trump as it was rallying behind him because the only other choice represented for them all of the abominations that they so despised—abortion, incompetent leadership, more Establishment politics that would lead to nothing but the continued persecution of the middle class. The theology of leadership that developed out of this movement was one that echoed the plight of the Egyptians looking upon Moses for deliverance. [11: John Fletcher, “Deep Stories of the Demonized: Empathy and Trump Evangelicals.” Performance Matters 3, no. 1 (2017): 94-102.] [12: Judith Roberts, “The Lord Has Sounded the TRUMPets?.” Constructing Narratives in Response to Trump\'s Election: How Various Populations Make Sense of an Unexpected Victory (2018): 84.]

Corwin Smidt, however, notes that not all evangelicals supported Trump and makes a distinction between type: “weekly church-attending, evangelical Republicans were far less supportive of Trump than evangelical Republicans who attended church far less regularly, as too were Republicans from the mainline Protestant and Roman Catholic faith traditions.”[footnoteRef:13] [13: Corwin Smidt, “The role of religion in the 2016 american presidential election.” Zeitschrift für Religion, Gesellschaft und Politik 1, no. 1 (2017): 133-162.]

The Types of Sources to be Used

The types of sources to be used in this project will consist of scholarly journal articles like those cited in the previous section of this proposal, as well as literature from the mainstream media that captures the essence of the Trump campaign, commentator analysis, and examples of evangelical support. Other sources will include theological scholarly literature to help explain the conceptual shifts that characterize the currents the modern religious thought and interpretation, political theology, and the theology of leadership. Some explanation of MAGA, how it takes the shape of a covenant for Trump’s evangelical base, and how evangelicals promote this covenant with the fervor of faith, will also be discussed a variety of the same sources.

Some sources, such as Corwin Smidt’s, “The Role of Religion in the 2016 American Presidential Election,” provides a great deal of quantitative data regarding the demographic shifts that allowed Trump to garner more and more support from the evangelical base as the primaries wore on. Other sources are more qualitative in nature and provide both theoretical and theological insights in the reasons for the evangelical base’s support of Trump. These sources include Philip Gorski’s “Why Evangelicals Voted for Trump: A Critical Cultural Sociology,” and Daniel Trump’s “The Mystery of Evangelical Trump Support?” as well as Smith’s American Evangelicalism: Embattled and Thriving, which paints a distinct picture of Trump’s eventual evangelical base pre-election, complete with all the theological shifts that spring from modern religious thought.

Methodology

To better understand the theological reasons of evangelicals for supporting Trump, this project proposes to use interview method to ask questions that are formulated based on the research of the subject. The aim of the interview method is to obtain better and deeper insight into a phenomenon so as to experience greater clarity on why something happens. The why that is meant to be answered using this method is the theological reason that evangelicals personally cite as serving as the basis of their support for Trump. The researcher wants to see if evangelicals personally couch their decisions in a rhetoric that is spiritual and theological or social and political. The sample that is intended to be used for this project will consist of evangelical Christians who can be interviewed after making contact with them via social media. Skype can be used to conduct interviews, and the participants’ data can be analyzed using content analysis to identify the themes that emerge to explain the reasons.

Outline

Description of the Outline

The outline for this project will begin with Chapter 1, which will provide an introduction that will frame the problem to be understood by describing Trump’s unlikely path to the White House. It will then discuss the evidence that shows that evangelicals supported him more than they did any of his recent predecessors in the election against Hillary Clinton. It will then discuss the background of evangelicals’ involvement in politics and discuss the emerging theology of leadership and show how it is connected to political theology in the 21st century.

The research questions will be identified and discussed, and they will focus on asking why evangelical Christians turned out to support Donald Trump from a theological position—i.e., what are the theological reasons that evangelicals give for supporting Donald Trump?

The nature of modern religious thought will then be analyzed to help serve as a backdrop for this investigation and frame the theological positions of today’s evangelical population within a specific construct. The emerging theology of leadership out of the need for the evangelical community to have a political leader who reflects their feelings, sentiments, experiences of marginalization, and yearning for a renewed Christian America will be assessed and the key concepts, such as theology and leadership will be defined.

Chapter 2 will be used to provide a literature review, including an analysis and synthesis of the materials used to gather information on the subject during research. The research aims to be broad in scope by including scholarly articles from peer-reviewed journals, mainstream media works such as articles found in Time and The Atlantic, which investigate evangelical support for Trump. The review will also include clips from Trump’s speeches, media reports on Trump and his base, as well as theological arguments from commentators who have a background in theology so that an adequate and appropriate frame can be constructed that will provide context for this investigation into the theology of leadership of evangelicals. Ample room will be given to the notion of the theology of leadership in order that the results obtained from the interview with evangelicals can be compared and contrasted with the ideas of the theology of leadership to see how well they line up. Some analysis of the election itself must also be provided so that the fact that the 2016 presidential election was of a specific binary character can be seen. Many voters felt, for instance, that the election was an either/or event that would settle and define the future of America for good. These various research points will be synthesized to establish a sufficient foundation for assessing the results of the interview process, discussed in the next chapter.

Chapter 3 will discuss the methodology to be employed for this project, which will be the interview method. This chapter will provide a description of how the sample was obtained, how the interview was conducted, and how the data collected from the interviews was analyzed.

Chapter 4 will provide a description of the results that were obtained from the interviews and show how they compare and contrast to the themes identified in the literature review regarding the research question. The point of this will be to see how well the two data sets line up to help the researcher make sense of the theological reasons for… [END OF PREVIEW]

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Why Evangelical Christians Support Trump.  (2018, April 11).  Retrieved January 19, 2019, from https://www.essaytown.com/subjects/paper/evangelical-christians-support-trump/6591358

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"Why Evangelical Christians Support Trump."  Essaytown.com.  April 11, 2018.  Accessed January 19, 2019.
https://www.essaytown.com/subjects/paper/evangelical-christians-support-trump/6591358.