Americans who support President Donald Trump tend to rely on values tied to “pro-Christian rhetoric with anti-Islam, anti-feminist, anti-globalist and anti-government attitudes,” according to new research conducted by Baylor University sociologists.
Trump voters also tend to believe in an authoritative God, value gender traditionalism and oppose LGBTQ rights.
Fifteen Baylor sociologists wrote “American Values, Mental Health and Using Technology in the Age of Trump” as the fifth wave of the Baylor Religion Survey, one of the most comprehensive national surveys on religious values. The Gallup Organization administered the survey to 1,501 random adults.
Trump voters who embraced his rhetoric, which the research found is tied to a emotion over objective facts, may be skeptical of the study itself, said Paul Froese, a Baylor sociology professor and director of the survey. Traditional reliance on expert analysis has been replaced by leeriness and disbelief, Froese said.
“If the people around you, who you trust and love, say, ‘Don’t believe in evolution,’ or ‘Don’t believe in global warming,’ it doesn’t matter if I can show you scientifically that these things have some basis,” Froese said. “It won’t resonate.”
Seventy-four percent of surveyed Trump voters view Islam as a threat, while 18 percent of Hillary Clinton voters said the same. Eighty-one percent of Trump voters strongly agree that Middle East refugees are a terror threat, as opposed to 12 percent of Clinton voters.
Sixty-three percent of Trump voters are high on gender traditionalism in feeling men are better suited for politics, men should earn more than women, women should provide primary child care and working mothers are deficient as mothers. Seventy-four percent of Clinton voters are low on gender traditionalism, according to the survey.
Eight percent of Trump voters were high on LGBTQ attitudes, compared with 82 percent of Clinton voters.
Froese said these numbers indicate increased polarization that culminated last month in Charlottesville, Virginia, where white supremacists and neo-Nazis marched in support of a statue of a Confederate soldier. One counter protester was killed.
“An indication of that is public incivility,” he said. “Like the neo-Nazi marches, that, to me, is an expression of incivility. You’re going out there and expressly trying to cause fear and hatred. Clearly, Trump, the way he talks about people and insults people is very uncivil.”
Rooted in such actions is fear, which is another prominent finding of the study. Among religious groups, Muslims, atheists and conservative Christians are the most feared.
At least 25 percent of Americans say they believe Muslims have inferior values, want to limit Americans’ freedom and pose a physical threat, according to the data. More than 66 percent of people who identify strongly as Republicans say Muslims are a physical danger.
More than 60 percent of people who identify strongly as Democrats say conservative Christians want to limit their freedoms.
Political affiliation was the strongest indicator in predicting which groups feared which, Baylor associate sociology professor Jerry Park said. People view identity as more closely driven by politics than religion, a dynamic that first emerged in 2010, Park said.
Other topics in the study include faith and mental health in America; religion and geography; and old and new religion versus technology.
Almost 70 percent of Americans who identify as religious are quite or very certain they are going to heaven, and another 20 percent are somewhat certain. More than half of Americans who identify as religious have little or no fear of hell, according to the research.
Americans as a whole are more likely to identify as more spiritual than religious, while people living in rural areas or small towns are more likely to be religious, the research found.
Three of five rural Americans believe God’s plan is tied to the United States’ success, and four of five believe the federal government should allow prayer in public schools, the study found.
Seventy-seven percent of Americans never use the Internet to share their religious views, and 62 percent say the Internet has no effect on their spiritual lives.
Meanwhile, political implications are tied to how openly Americans discuss religion, Froese said. Liberal people are less likely to say they are religious in order to not be labeled as conservative, he said. Similarly, a conservative person who is not religious is more likely to pretend to be religious, he said.
“You have, again, a conflation of political and religious identities in the United States,” Froese said.