When President Trump won the White House four years ago in a surprise victory, conservative Christians couldn’t believe their luck.
In every term of his presidency, he gave them everything they wanted: Two hundred federal judges appointed for life. An embassy in Jerusalem. Policies against abortion. Two Supreme Court Justices, and then in the final hours, one-third. He was their stronghold, their defender, at a time when the country as they knew it, and their position in it, was changing. And he brought their movement to a pinnacle of political maturity.
Now, the election of Joseph R. Biden Jr marks a new chapter for the power of conservative Christians, which culminated under Trump. As Republican evangelists across the country handle the events of the week, they reflect on how much money they̵7;ve made over the past four years and about their fears about what might happen. under the Biden government. They also wonder when and how they will regain power.
In Sheldon, Iowa, where about eight out of ten voters support Trump, Leah Schoonhooven has documented her concerns about a Biden presidency on three gap pages. She worries that the election results have been affected, and that Mr. Biden will reverse Mr. Trump’s priorities, from building a border wall to uplifting the conservative missionary ideal of religious freedom.
“He doesn’t support Christianity at all; maybe he’ll prove me wrong, ”she said of Mr. Biden, a Catholic. “It scared me. He wouldn’t do everything that Trump did.”
“I don’t think our world will come back, when you have a divided country like this,” she said.
Donna Rigney, a pastor whose church meets in the RV park lodge in Salt Springs, Fla., Has been supporting the president since 2016, when she received what she saw as a direct message from God. supporting his candidacy.
After this election, she sent an email to people in her prayer circles asking them not to give up. “We must pull Donald Trump to the finish line with prayers of faith, worship, fasting and stay in a place of love and forgiveness for our enemies,” she wrote.
But she said on Friday that if this were to be the end of the Trump era, she was grateful for what he did for the country and comforted that he would have suffered fewer attacks. “He’ll be fine, he has God’s hand on him,” she said. “He would have been better if he hadn’t become president and not attacked every day. But I really feel this will be terrible for the nation. ”
Mr. Trump’s presidency has repeatedly shown deep divisions between white conservative Christians and other, or total, non-believers. Mr. Biden’s narrow odds of winning in some battlefield states reveal that the cultural conflict between these groups is far from over. About eight out of 10 white voters supported Trump in the 2020 election, according to AP VoteCast, just as they did in 2016. Mr Biden’s coalition is made up of many black Protestants, Catholics. Hispanics and Americans are not religious.
Even so, Mr Trump has won a greater rating from Latino voters as a whole, compared with four years ago. And for Father Samuel Rodriguez, a Sacramento pastor who prayed at Trump’s 2017 inauguration, the lesson from the 2020 election is that Latinos have become what he calls “quitting. quintessential turnaround votes ”.
Mr. Rodriguez saw a legacy of the Trump era that redefined the American missionaries ‘earlier approach to the question of politicians’ personality. Their loyalty to Mr. Trump, which they ask to ignore language and behavior they disgust, has proven that individuality is not everything to them, even if achieved. how many tangible targets.
“The policies are absolutely remarkable,” he said.
R. Albert Mohler, Jr., president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, said voting for someone like Donald Trump was unthinkable for evangelists 40 years ago, when they emerged. up as a powerful faction behind the victory of Ronald Reagan Ky.
Today, “they feel the wind is facing them,” he said, “with a clear sense that the culture is becoming rearranged in a hostile and increasingly secular way. Evangelists are voting with similar values, but with a variety of priorities. ”
Mr. Mohler did not vote for Mr. Trump in 2016. But this year, he spoke publicly about his plan to vote for the president even though he continued to reserve, calling an alternative to a Trump victory is “more and more unimaginable”.
Like the president, some missionary leaders refuse to accept an outcome that Trump has lost. A while after most major news networks calculated that Mr. Biden had won the race, Franklin Graham, the evangelist, warned that the result was not “official.”
And Mr. Graham warned that under the Biden administration, Christian businesses would soon be targeted for things like not selling cakes to gay weddings, as he said happened during his presidency. Obama.
“America is in such a state of moral decline,” he said. “We are becoming a much more violent nation. I fear for our country ”.
In Texas, Robert Jeffress, the pastor of First Baptist Dallas, placed billboards across the city to advertise his upcoming sermon on how Christians should react to Biden’s presidency.
“There will be millions of disappointed Christians with these results,” he said.
“A Joe Biden victory cannot erase all the positives that President Trump can achieve,” he said. “I don’t think there is any way to calculate all the good he accomplished.”
Some socially conservative political groups have pivoted to other political wars, such as defending Republican control over the Senate, which could be determined by two sprint elections in Georgia in January. Some organizers say Republicans’ continued control of the Senate could buffer their performance under Trump and make it harder for Democrats to do things like raise funds for Planned Parenthood or increase the size of the Court. Supreme.
“To plan the Biden administration, we have to take a step back; otherwise it would be the Armageddon we feared in the first place, ”said Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of Susan B. Anthony List. “That’s why Georgia is so important. The other side also knows that.
On Saturday, when the Biden campaign declared victory, the Confederacy and Freedom Union began knocking on doors across the state and was preparing to distribute a million voter guides to 4,000 churches.
Social conservatives also celebrate elections to the House of Representatives by at least 15 new women protesting the right to abortion, more than doubling their number in the previous Congress. About half of the 15 capsized seats were in the hands of Democrats.
And social conservatives have another reason to stay positive: Although Mr Trump has lost, they believe that the conservative control over the judiciary that he allows will have a lasting impact. .
“As Amy Coney Barrett writes of the majority decision to protect the Christian foster care and adoption agencies, I will celebrate,” said Penny Nance, president of the Women of Care for America. . “We put some points on the board.”