YESTERDAY AND TODAY, I share tidbits from the American Enterprise Institute’s Survey Center on American Life and its January 2021 American Perspectives Survey. To provide balance of findings from this respected conservative think tank, I also include coverage provided by NPR.
Trump’s Involvement in the Insurrection. “There are stark political divisions,” AEI observes. “Nearly nine in 10 (87 percent) Democrats believe Trump encouraged the attack on the Capitol, while only 15 percent of Republicans agree. About three-quarters (74 percent) of Republicans say this is untrue. Twelve percent of Republicans remain unsure about the degree to which Trump encouraged the attack.”
Is Violence Justified? According to AEI, “A majority (55 percent) of Republicans support the use of force as a way to arrest ‘the decline of the traditional American way of life.’ Forty-three percent of Republicans express opposition to this idea. Significantly fewer independents (35 percent) and Democrats (22 percent) say the use of force is necessary to stop the disappearance of traditional American values and way of life.”
And, of course, one’s definition of “traditional American values and way of life” makes this a particularly loaded survey item.
Where Do Evangelicals Stand? Daniel Cox, director of the AEI Survey Center on American Life, offered comments to NPR: “About three in five white evangelicals told the pollsters that Biden was not legitimately elected, that it was not accurate to say former President Donald Trump encouraged the attack on the Capitol, and that a Biden presidency now has them feeling disappointed, angry or frightened.”
NRP continues, “On all those questions, Cox says, white evangelicals are ‘politically quite distinct.’ Majorities of white mainline Protestants, Black Protestants, Catholics, followers of non-Christian religions and the religiously unaffiliated all viewed Biden’s victory as legitimate.”
Wacko Beliefs. What’s more, NPR reports, “The AEI survey found that white evangelicals were especially prone to subscribe to the QAnon movement’s conspiracy theories…. Twenty-seven percent said it was ‘mostly’ or ‘completely’ accurate to say Trump ‘has been secretly fighting a group of child sex traffickers that include prominent Democrats and Hollywood elites.’ That share was higher than for any other faith group and more than double the support for QAnon beliefs evident among Black Protestants, Hispanic Catholics and non-Christians.”
Cox said, “As with a lot of questions in the survey, white evangelicals stand out in terms of their belief in conspiracy theories and the idea that violence can be necessary. They’re far more likely to embrace all these different conspiracies.”
And, apparently, the least likely to wear masks and practice social distancing. God help us all. ds