Getty/John Tlumacki/The Boston Globe
Black clergy members stand with other attendees during a Mass for racial healing on Castle Island in South Boston on June 13, 2020.
- OVERVIEWPeople of faith have suffered under the Trump administration’s attacks on civil rights, religious freedom, and health and economic well-being.
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See also: “Connecting the Dots: How the Trump Administration Misuses Religious Freedom To Create a License To Discriminate” by Maggie Siddiqi, Kurt Mueller, Guthrie Graves-Fitzsimmons, and Sharita Gruberg
Introduction and summary
There is a commonly held but misleading perception in U.S. public discourse that the Trump administration’s policies have been largely favorable to faith communities. This is based on the administration’s narrow understanding of religion and public policy—one that privileges the concerns of a select group of conservative white Christians, mostly evangelical, who by no means represent all of America’s faithful. Rather, this subset has a narrow focus on policies that discriminate against LGBTQ people and stigmatize reproductive health services, including abortion, presenting a very skewed representation of religious Americans’ public policy concerns. While the Trump administration purports to help this narrow band of religious Americans, the reality is that many of its policies have harmed all religious communities—particularly religious minorities.
To understand the needs and concerns of all American faith communities, it is important to first understand the religious diversity of the nation. While 3 in 4 Americans identify with a religious tradition, only 15 percent identify as white evangelicals, according to the 2019 American Values Atlas Survey.1 Yet this small proportion of the population tends to garner a disproportionate share of attention concerning religion in the public discourse on national politics. Their concerns certainly dominate how the Trump administration’s impact on faith communities is perceived at large.
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Public opinion polling reveals that even the so-called benefits of the Trump administration to those select faith groups crusading against reproductive and LGBTQ rights are rejected by majorities within faith communities other than white evangelicals. According to the Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI), majorities of white mainline Protestants and Black Protestants say abortion should be legal in most or all cases, as well as a plurality of Catholics.2 The vast majority of U.S. women of faith have used or currently use birth control.3 The PRRI also found that majorities of all major religious groups in the United States support government-backed health insurance programs covering contraceptives and supporting nondiscrimination protections for the LGBTQ community.4