Donald Trump, despite identifying as a Christian, does not align with the Christian Right. While he claims to be a Christian and often refers to the Bible in his speeches, he has shown a lack of knowledge when asked about specific Bible verses. Additionally, he has been evasive when questioned about his stance on abortion and whether he has ever paid for one. Although he describes himself as a non-denominational Christian, he does not regularly attend church in Washington. As a result, many Americans do not consider him to be a true Christian.
Trump has relied on the support of white evangelical voters, who have generally backed him. However, this relationship has always been transactional, with Trump offering Supreme Court nominees to overturn Roe v. Wade in exchange for their votes. However, this arrangement may be falling apart. In September, Trump criticized Florida Governor Ron DeSantis for his state’s six-week abortion ban, which was made possible by the fall of Roe v. Wade. This angered pro-life groups, some of whom are now refusing to endorse Trump.
Despite potentially losing support from the Christian Right, Trump may still manage to maintain his popularity. This is because he represents a larger trend in America and around the world – the rise of a post-Christian Right that is less concerned with the issue of abortion.
Christianity has been in decline in the Western world for quite some time. The United States has experienced a slower secularization process compared to Britain, but it has still occurred. Age, rather than political affiliation, is the best predictor of religiosity among Americans. Older Democrats tend to be more religious than young Republicans. The influence of the Bible Belt, a region known for its strong religious presence, is diminishing as the younger generation becomes less religious. This can be seen in their attitudes towards abortion, which serves as a proxy for their overall views on Christianity.
The strong opposition to abortion among Christians is unique compared to other world religions. Early Christians distinguished themselves from pagan practices by rescuing abandoned babies and raising them within the church. This concern for unwanted babies, including those unborn, has persisted for centuries. However, young Americans are increasingly rejecting this tradition. A majority of 18-29 year olds support legalizing abortion in most or all circumstances, while only 54% of those aged 65 and older do. This shift away from traditional Christian values is becoming more evident.
It is important to note that most Americans and Britons prefer a compromise when it comes to abortion. They support permitting abortion in the first trimester and only in exceptional cases later on. Extreme positions are held by small, highly politicized minorities on both the Right and Left. However, while the influence of the pro-life movement is declining, the fervor of the pro-choice movement is growing.
The overturning of Roe v. Wade has had negative consequences for the Republican Party. Not only is the pro-life vote shrinking over time, but the introduction of restrictive abortion laws in states like Florida has energized pro-choice voters, particularly women. These voters are passionate about protecting reproductive rights and are willing to put in the effort to defeat pro-life candidates.
Similar trends can be observed in other parts of the world, such as Poland. The near-total ban on abortion in 2021 sparked outrage among the public and contributed to the fall of the Law and Justice (PiS) government. Again, there is a generational gap in religiosity, with fewer young people identifying as practicing Catholics compared to previous years.
Trump has a unique ability to gauge the public mood, and if he is moving away from the pro-life position, it suggests that his base may be doing the same. Trump was the first post-Christian Republican President in America, and it appears that he will not be the last.
To access more award-winning British journalism, readers can try The Telegraph free for one month and enjoy a year’s subscription for just $9 with a US-exclusive offer.