President Donald Trump remains a divisive presence in the United States, clinging to a very slim positive job approval rating among protestant pastors, according to a new survey from Lifeway.
51 percent of protestant pastors approve of Trump’s job performance so far, with 25 percent strongly approving. In the meantime, 28 percent disapprove and a surprisingly substantial minority — 20 percent — say they’re undecided. That last number jumped out at the survey authors, who say it’s unusual to have so many unsure on where they stand on a President this far into their term.
“Compared to the middle of President Obama’s first term, we see twice as many pastors say they’re undecided on President Trump’s job performance,” said Scott McConnell, executive director of LifeWay Research in the report.
The demographic breakdown fell upon what have become familiar lines. Black pastors are the least likely to approve of Trump, with only four percent saying they do so and 85 percent saying they disapprove. Younger pastors of all ethnicities are more likely to say they disapprove or are unsure about the President’s job performance, while pastors 45 and older are much more likely to approve.
The denominational divide is also interesting. Via the study, 68 percent of Baptists and a whopping 86 percent of Pentecostals approve of Trump, the most likely denominations to do so. Presbyterians (28 percent) and Methodists (25 percent) are the least likely. Church of Christ (55 percent) and Lutherans (41 percent) are divided more evenly.
If you’ve been reading these reports, few of the specific findings will come as huge surprise. Men are more likely to approve of Trump than women (56 percent versus 30 percent). Pastors in the South and West are more likely to approve than pastors in the Northeast (57 percent versus 40 percent). Pastors with a bachelor’s degree (71 percent) or no college degree (67 percent) are more likely to approve than pastors with a master’s (41 percent) or doctoral degree (52 percent).
So what does all this mean? Well, that’s sort of a microcosm of the question hanging over the whole country during this present, enormously contentious moment. The only really safe prediction is that the political divide is not going anywhere on its own.