Quick to Listen/Episode 36 | 44 min

Are Trump’s White Evangelical Supporters Racist?

Theon Hill joins CT editors to discuss the evolution of the word “racist,” where gentleness belongs in this discussion, and how the issue of race affects evangelicals’ legitimacy in the public square.
Are Trump’s White Evangelical Supporters Racist?

It’s been a month since the election, so you’ve probably seen the exit poll statistic that 81 percent of white evangelicals voted for Trump. (Some polls have disputed this number.)

For Christians appalled and morally enraged by Trump’s remarks on race throughout the campaign, this apparent reality feels like “betrayal.” Although many white evangelical Trump voters (51%) said their vote was primarily against Clinton rather than for Trump, many of their fellow evangelicals don’t see this calculus as justified.

Last week in The New York Times, Shane Claiborne and Tony Campolo wrote, “Evangelicalism was closely associated with the campaign of Donald J. Trump, and more than 80 percent of white evangelicals voted for the president-elect. This, despite large numbers of African American, Latino, Asian, young, and female evangelicals who were fiercely opposed to the racism, sexism, and xenophobia of Mr. Trump’s campaign.”

So. Are white evangelical Trump supporters racist?

“When we limit [racism] to strictly individual terms, we fail to see how people are using it,” says Wheaton College assistant professor of communication Theon Hill. “If we’re talking about racism in the context of this election, it may not always be that this person is or is not a Bull Connor descendent. It may be that this person is participating in a racist structure, intentionally or unintentionally.”

Hill joined assistant editor Morgan Lee and editor-in-chief Mark Galli this week to discuss what he means by calling someone a racist, when believers should “try a little tenderness,” versus cleansing the temple, and why the church has a particular call to address racism in its ranks.

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Are Trump’s White Evangelical Supporters Racist?