A new Winthrop University poll has found that half of Americans in 11 Southern states believe the United States was founded as an explicitly Christian nation, the Post and Courier reported on Saturday.
The view is a crux of Christian Nationalism, said poll director Scott Huffman. Those who espouse Christian Nationalist beliefs support the idea that the United States should be governed as an explicitly Christian nation, protecting Christians and Christian values.
“Research has shown that increases in Christian Nationalist beliefs lead to more exclusionary views on immigration and more negative views of multi-culturalism in America,” Huffmon said. “Those who hold these views care more about whether they have a strong leader who will protect their religious and cultural values than whether a leader is individually pious.”
While half of respondents overall said they agreed or strongly agreed that the U.S. was founded as an explicitly Christian nation, that number jumped to three-quarters of white evangelicals — a group long supportive of President Donald Trump, who is an immigration hardliner and often boasts of what his administration is doing for Christians.
More than 80 percent of evangelicals voted for Trump in 2016. The poll found that 80 percent of Republican (or Republican leaning) Southerners approve of Trump, while only 4 percent of Democrats do. Trump has a 44 percent approval rating among all respondents and a 48 percent disapproval rating.
And for those who disagree with the notion of America as a Christian nation?
The Rev. Joseph Darby, first vice president for the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People in Charleston, disagreed with claims that the country was intended to be explicitly Christian.
Darby, who also pastors Nichols Chapel AME in Charleston, didn’t mince words in describing Christian nationalists and white evangelical denominations with exclusionary views on immigration and multiculturalism.
“It’s called Christian hypocrisy,” Darby said.
Rather than placing favor on one religion over others, Darby said Americans should “love God and love others as we would be loved.”
“If the laws reflect that, we’d be one nation under all,” he said. “If you have something that’s exclusively Christian, you’re walking a very slippery, nationalist slope. Everyone in America is not Christian.”
The Winthrop University Poll randomly dialed and questioned 969 residents in Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and Virginia between Nov. 10-20 and Nov. 26-Dec. 2. Results have an error margin of plus or minus 3.15 percent.