Many of us have wondered why evangelical Christians have stuck with Donald Trump for so long. It is, of course, child’s play to come up with reasons why they would not and should not.
Initially, I thought abortion was the main reason. Certainly, the evangelicals applauded the appointment of Justice Neil Gorsuch. But I had not thought about why the abortion issue was so important to evangelicals except for the obvious pro-life, pro-choice debate.
That view, however, misses the underlying sociology. More than 30 years ago, Kristen Luker wrote Abortion and the Politics of Motherhood. The book drew on 200 interviews with abortion activists on different sides of the issue. She found that their position was connected to their views on sexual behavior, the care of children, and family life. So thirty three years ago, Luker discovered what I had forgotten. The abortion issue is centrally connected to the evangelical Christian’s view of gender and family life. It is all about the father as the head of the family and the place of the woman in the home.
From this perspective, it should be clear that Hillary Clinton (and the Democratic Party) had no hope with white evangelical Christians. Of course, Donald Trump is morally flawed to say the least. But the Democratic Party is centrally committed to views that contradict the views of evangelicals, and Donald Trump projects a form of authoritarian masculinity that continues to appeal to evangelical Christians.