faith

Faith leaders pray with President Donald Trump during a rally for evangelical supporters at the King Jesus International Ministry church in Miami.

WASHINGTON — The conservative evangelical Christians who helped send Donald Trump to the White House four years ago stuck by him in 2020. But even if Trump doesn’t get a second term, some conservative Christians see reasons to celebrate in this year’s election results.

White evangelical voters made up 23% of the vote nationwide and overwhelmingly favored Trump this fall, with about 8 in 10 backing him, according to AP VoteCast. Their support may not have been enough to re-elect the president – yet evangelicals still took heart in their strong presence at the polls and the GOP’s success in down-ballot races.

“There’s no question that we did our job,” Ralph Reed, the veteran GOP activist who founded the Faith and Freedom Coalition nonprofit, said of his fellow conservative Christians.

While many of Trump’s evangelical allies are white, the president’s campaign also worked to appeal to Latino voters and the GOP saw signs of improvement with that demographic in several states. The Rev. Samuel Rodriguez, a Latino evangelical pastor who has advised Trump, said those advances with Latino voters are one reason why evangelicals should view the election as “a win” for their priorities.

“I would argue, with great due deference to our president, that if we fall short, it’s not due to the evangelical agenda of life, religious liberty and biblical justice,” Rodriguez said. “It was more a rejection of the personality.”

Looking ahead, Rodriguez said, “if we can reconcile the message and the messenger, I think the future looks pretty amazing.”

Among Latinos, 61% of evangelicals backed Trump, according to AP VoteCast, far higher than the 35% he received from Latinos overall.

Biden’s campaign had tried to peel off parts of Trump’s evangelical base as part of its active faith outreach operation. But Robert Jones, author of two books about white Christians, said there was no erosion of white evangelicals’ support for Trump and the Republican Party in this election – and that applied to both men and women.

“They absolutely stood by their man,” said Jones, who oversees frequent surveys of religious Americans as CEO of the Public Religion Research Institute, an independent Washington-based nonprofit.

Of course, some of the president’s closest evangelical allies are not yet ready to acknowledge a Biden victory. Trump is vowing to continue challenging the outcome.