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I’m preparing this article for the web while President Trump gives a televised rally, denouncing “Sleepy Joe,” “Crooked Hillary” and all the rest. For a Canadian, it’s sheer entertainment. But more than that. It’s history. And maybe even history repeating.

When we look at ancient Rome we find that tremendous conflicts arose between those who wanted things to be like they used to be versus those who accepted and perhaps took advantage of how things were becoming. The old way was the Roman Republic, where the senate had some real power. The new way was the Roman Empire, where deified emperors virtually took command, often with an iron fist.

It would be too simplistic to say a similar shift is happening in America. But something definitely is happening. This great article by Rabbi Maller helps to break it down and give us a better picture of where the world’s most powerful state might be headed.

—MC

Trump’s Religious Supporters And Opponents

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By Rabbi Allen S. Maller

The majority of Americans are religious, and according to the latest Pew survey, 83% of white evangelical Americans support Trump for reelection (62% strongly).

Four years ago, Trump won a bigger proportion of white evangelical votes than any Republican presidential candidate in history, and he will win by an even greater proportion in this election; but because the number of white evangelicals has been in steady decline for the last 15 years, their impact will be less.

This decline in Evangelical churches membership is why many white evangelical voters are sympathetic to anti-gay and anti-foreigner white supremest groups. Evangelical Lutherans dropped from 5.3 million in 1987 to 3.4 million now.

The Presbyterian Church USA had 3.2 million in 1982 but now is around 1.3 million. The Episcopal Church went from 3.4 million in the 1960s to 1.7 million now. Mainline faiths with seminary-educated ministers once drew lots of middle-class public respect.

But Protestant Christianity is now shifting to more emotional worship. One-fourth of the world’s non-European Christians now belong to churches that “speak in tongues,” researchers say. World wide Christianity is moving from advanced, prosperous, northern nations to the less-developed tropics, and abandoning its status as moral liberal leaders in the process.

The Southern Baptist Convention, the nation’s largest Protestant denomination, said it had 14.8 million members in 2018, down by a million and a half since it peaked at 16.3 million in 2006.

The United Methodists, a more liberal Protestant denomination, fell from 11 million in 1969 to below 7 million today – while America’s population almost doubled.

In Pew Research Center telephone surveys conducted in 2018 and 2019, 65% of American adults describe themselves as Christians when asked about their religion, down 12 percentage points over the past decade.

Meanwhile, the religiously unaffiliated share of the population, consisting of people who describe their religious identity as atheist, agnostic or “nothing in particular,” now stands at 26%, up nine points from 17% in 2009.

Fifty-nine percent of white Catholics voted for Trump in 2016 and 59% still support him over (white Catholic) Biden today. And surprisingly Trump supporters have risen from fewer than a quarter of Latino Catholics who voted for Trump in 2016, to one-third of them who back him now.

No religious group has in recent decades been more Republican than the Latter-day Saints, but Mormon support for Trump in 2016 was relatively weak, and their level of support has increased only 2 points since 2016. Then, 56% of them cast ballots for him. This year, according to a survey published in January, 58% support him over Biden.

Trump’s support has declined by three points in two religious groups. While only 8% of Black Protestants, the most Democratic religious group in the country, voted for Trump in 2016, now just 5% support him. And where 62% of non-evangelical whites — mainline Protestants — voted for him in 2016, now 59% prefer him to Biden; and suburban women account for most of that loss of support.

Decline of churchgoing Christians in America may undercut the Republican Party, which depends on white evangelicals as the heart of its base. In contrast, unchurched Americans tend to be compassionate progressives who have become more like Jews who are traditionally the most loyal white voters and contributors in the Democratic Party.

Jews plus former Christians may shift national political values to the left. Watch for the expansion of right-wing Anti-Semitism if Democrats take over the senate.

Jews are a very strong Democratic voter group. But Orthodox Jews, who are only 10% of the American Jewish population, have moved strongly in Trump’s direction especially since Trump’s daughter converted to Orthodox Judaism.

In 2016, only 28% of all Jews voted for Trump, while 37% say they’d vote for him now. Not since 1980 has a Republican presidential candidate received such a large proportion of Jewish support.

Then, Ronald Reagan’s 39% was at least in part the result of the Jewish community’s sense that Jimmy Carter was no friend of Israel. That Trump is doing so well today is probably the result of his moving the US embassy to Jerusalem, and the Israel-Bahrain Abraham Accord agreement.

A Garin-Hart-Yang online survey of 810 Jewish voters nationally which was conducted from September 2 to 7, 2020, found that 67% of Jewish voters disapprove of President Trump’s job performance. This is about 15% higher than the American electorate as a whole.

70% of Jewish voters view Joe Biden in favorable terms, more than 20% higher than the American electorate and two-thirds of Jewish voters say they will vote for Joe Biden over the 30% who will vote for President Trump. And three-quarters of Jewish women say they favor Biden.

Jewish voters have a much more positive view of the protestors and the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement than the overall electorate (a CNN national survey showed BLM’s image as 51% favorable and 38% unfavorable), while non-Orthodox Jews have positive feelings toward both groups by better than two-to-one.

Even two-fifths of Jewish Republicans have positive impressions of the protestors and BLM.

Unlike other constituencies, most Jewish voters plan to vote BEFORE election day and feel comfortable with a not-in-person voting method.

The low number of Jewish “undecided” responses (3%) suggests a Jewish electorate that has already made up its mind.

Allen S. Maller is an ordained Reform Rabbi who retired in 2006 after 39 years as the Rabbi of Temple Akiba in Culver City, California, USA. Active in seeking to promote Jewish-Muslim understanding and harmony, he is the author of Judaism and Islam as Synergistic Monotheisms: A Reform Rabbi’s Reflections on the Profound Connectedness of Islam and Judaism, and “Which Religion Is Right For You? A 21st Century Kuzari”.