Tenn. researcher sees links between Trump election and Christian Nationalists

Apr 9, 2018

JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (OSBORNE)  --  A Tennessee researcher says support is eroding among conservative Christians for the separation of church and state.  

Joseph Baker is a sociologist at East Tennessee State. He specializes in the study of religion. Dr. Baker says conservative Christians have traditionally been staunch supporters of church-state separation. He cites the Tennessee based Southern Baptist Convention as an example.

“If I look at a question like ‘Should the government and religious entities be separate or should they be merged?’ people who were, say, in the Southern Baptist denomination are much more likely now to be against the separation of church and state.”

President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence
Credit whitehouse.gov

Dr. Baker’s most recent study looks at conservative Christian support for the election of President Donald Trump in 2016. He says much of the support Trump received from people of faith came from what he describes as Christian Nationalist.

Baker and his colleagues used several methods to identify these voters, including the degree of surveyed agreement with a series of statements.

Dr. Baker enumerated four of those statements during an interview with WMOT.

“The federal government should declare the United States a Christian nation. The federal government should advocate Christian values. The federal government should allow the display of religious symbols in public spaces. The success of the United States is part of God’s plan.”

Dr. Baker says Christian Nationalist now comprise 25 to 30 percent of American voters and will continue to strongly impact election outcomes.

Baker says his study has drawn some hate mail, but he’s pleased the findings are generating discussion inside and outside the Christian community.

Would you like to review the study Dr. Baker co-authored?  Use the link below to listen to the full WMOT interview with Dr. Baker.