The American people continue to stand out for their religiosity: 55% of Americans say they pray regularly (compared to about 10% in France and 6% in the United Kingdom) and 87% say they believe in God. This religiosity is quite natural in the political sphere as well.

2018 US Congress: is more religiously diverse, but remains predominantly Christian (88% vs. 71% of the American adult population). Religiosity is even more visible in the White House. American presidents have never ceased to invoke faith in God as well, since George Washington made “fervent demands on this almighty Being who rules the universe” in his inaugural address on April 30, 1789. In addition, analysts note that the use of language Religious and explicit references to God have grown in presidential rhetoric since the 1980s. For example, the phrase “God bless America” ​​is found in any major discourse.

According to a recent study, this trend even seems to have grown with Donald Trump. But while he claims to be a Presbyterian Protestant, there is plenty of evidence to suggest that the current White House tenant is the least religious president of the modern era, but also the one who invokes religion the most. This is an obvious political strategy: after all, in 2016, 81% of white evangelicals voted for Trump. His promise: to defend them in the cultural war they are waging, especially on issues such as abortion, the rights of LBGTQ people or prayer in school.

Even beyond the case of Donald Trump, so far all modern-day presidents have been Protestant Christians, with the notable exception of John Kennedy, who was a Catholic. It should be noted that no person of Jewish faith received a presidential nomination from a major party (Democrat Joseph Lieberman received only a vice nomination in 2000). Not uncontroversial was the 2008 White House nomination of Mormon Mitt Romney.

A changing religious landscape

The growing presence of religious rhetoric in political discourse is both the reason and the consequence of the politicization of religion, especially white evangelicals, since the 1970s. This politicization has brought to light the racial divide that exists in the United States. According to the Institute for Research on Public Religion (PRRI), a non-profit, non-partisan organization, “no religious group is more closely associated with the Republican Party than white evangelical Protestants.”

The situation is further complicated by the existence of a smaller number of non-white evangelicals (about a quarter) and progressive white evangelicals (about 15%) who tend to vote Democrats. However, statistics show a continuing erosion in the number of Americans who identify as evangelical Protestants since the 1990s, especially among younger generations. Likewise, the number of Catholics fell slowly, while the number of historic Protestants “Mainline” collapsed. The trend most discussed by analysts is the growing number of Americans who do not identify with any religion that is now at least as numerous as evangelicals. But researcher Lauric Henneton argues that the label “unaffiliated” is misleading: they only have in common that they do not want to be considered a member of a religious group or established traditions, which does not show their real beliefs. The overcoming of evangelicals by those without religious affiliation is greater among the younger generations. But young people are also the least likely to vote, which could reduce the impact on elections.

evangelicals

Evangelicals are the most important religious current in the United States. It is made up of 80 million Americans, about 25% of the population. In 2016, 81% of them voted for Donald Trump. And he is expected to vote for him en masse even now.

Mormons, upset Trump

Mormons in the United States have traditionally voted Republicans, but some members of the Conservative church have been angry with President Donald Trump and changed sides, backing Democrat Joe Biden. Trump’s support among Mormons remained especially among women. Experts say this could have a significant impact in some key states – especially Arizona and Nevada – where Mormons make up six percent of the population.

Protestants

Protestants numbered 36 million six years ago, or about 14% of the total US population. In the last fifteen years, their number has seen the largest decline among Christians in the country. Many Protestants choose other ways to appreciate their faith or become agnostic. They represent a middle or upper class with a higher level of education than the average population and are courted by political parties, especially the Republican Party. Historic Protestant churches have always made leftist commitments.

But their believers, rather Republicans, stand out from their socially focused leaders. And yet, since 2018, their support for Donald Trump has waned. In practice, the vote of these Christians, like many voters, depends less on their religious beliefs than on economic conditions and fiscal proposals. Supporting same-sex abortion or marriage, however, Protestants in historic churches remain the most progressive of American Christians. But for decades, their influence has waned for the benefit of evangelicals. In 2016, 52% of them voted for Donald Trump. In 2018, their support for the US president declined. However, these figures do not show a trend. Since then, their votes have been evenly distributed between Republicans and Democrats. Overrepresented in key states, especially in North and South Dakota, Minnesota and Iowa, their vote can count on whether or not President Donald Trump is re-elected.

Catholics

Part of the Catholic hierarchy, followed by many white Catholics, holds conservative positions. But the fast-growing Hispanic population is more opposed to Donald Trump and his anti-migrant policy. The vote of American Catholics could move more to the Democratic Party. A frontal opponent of repressive anti-migration policy, backed by President Donald Trump, the Archbishop of Los Angeles, is the first Hispanic Catholic to be elected in November 2019 as head of US bishops. This is a strong sign sent to a Catholic community that is now heavily divided.

White Catholics, former European immigrants, settled rather on the East Coast. Practitioners, very present inland, and Latin Americans, more recently arriving in the United States, live in large cities on the east and south coasts. As the Catholic population of European descent, middle or upper class, ages or leaves the Catholic Church, the Latin American Church continues to grow. The Catholic Church in the United States has about 70 million believers, or about 22% of the American population. It is the largest religious group in the United States, ranking third in world Catholicism.

Part of his hierarchy, followed by many white Catholics, has very conservative positions, in conflict with the Pope. Among them is Cardinal Burke, who supported Trump’s decree to expel Muslims from certain countries. However, in 2016, only 50% of Catholics voted for Donald Trump. And now the US president has the support of only 44% of them.

Muslims

Minority and ignored in the United States, the September 11 attacks changed the situation. Since then, they have been perceived as a threat to the country’s security. Donald Trump’s positions have made matters worse. But their votes are split between left and right.

Jews

Since Donald Trump’s election in late 2016, Jews have felt more endangered in the United States. The current US president is based only on a minority of Jews in the United States, close to Israel. Although the issue of Israel was a priority for Trump, this did not attract most American Jews.

What the polls say

According to a survey conducted by the Pew Research Center between September 30 and October 5, 2020 (while President Trump was briefly hospitalized), white Christian voters (representing 44% of the total number of registered voters) continue to make a difference . With stronger support for Donald Trump than Democrat Joe Biden for the November presidential election, but there is a slight erosion of the vote against the Republican candidate in this category of voters, compared to the August figures. While white evangelists continue to overwhelmingly support President Trump compared to the 2016 presidential election, the contribution of votes from other religious groups is very important, and the racial dimension must not be negligible in this election. Pew Center research director Gregory A. Smith points out that among registered voters, 90% of black Protestants intend to vote for Biden, as do 70% of Jews and 67% of Hispanic Catholics. In contrast, 78% of white evangelicals, 53% of other white Protestants and 52% of white Catholics intend to vote for Trump.

We must not forget the crucial role of Catholic voters, especially in the three Great Lakes states (Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin) that tilted the Electoral College in favor of Trump in 2016. For a long time, Democrats have been able to rely heavily on from the Catholic vote, but lost more of these voters because of themes defended by the Democratic Party that alienated many practicing Catholics, taken over by Republicans. It remains to be seen whether Catholic voters who voted for Trump in 2016 will now elect Catholic Joe Biden, who was also the first Catholic vice president in US history.

There is another group of white Christian voters, those who are numerically modest, who do not want to support either the Republican candidate or the Democratic candidate. Some small parties are addressing disappointed Christian voters to allow them not to sacrifice at least some of their beliefs when they put their ballot in the ballot box. The American Solidarity Party (ASP) thus offers a Christian Democratic program and attracts mostly Catholics. Small parties have no chance of seeing their candidates for the White House and are not present in all states, but they hope that the polarization and degradation of the political debate will open up room for growth among disappointed voters, including those seeking more political approaches. good in accordance with their religious ideals.