“Numbers show evangelicals have a greater passion for politics than most, which could say something about the issues of our day. Some of the biggest political issues today involve evangelicals, which could explain why they are engaged at a higher level than others,” said Ed Stetzer, executive director of the Billy Graham Center.
Politics is important for most evangelicals, but not so important that they question the faith of those who vote differently from them.
A new survey from LifeWay Research sponsored by the Billy Graham Center at Wheaton College explored the voting habits and political motivations of three groups of Americans: evangelicals by belief, self-identified evangelicals and those who are not evangelical by belief or self-identity.
Evangelicals by belief—those who hold to four key theological statements developed by LifeWay Research and the National Association of Evangelicals—were most likely to say politics is at least somewhat important to them (87 percent), with 30 percent saying it is extremely important.
Self-identified evangelicals (85 percent) gave similar overall importance to politics. Non-evangelicals (78 percent) are less likely to see politics as at least somewhat important. But few self-identified (23 percent) and non-evangelicals (18 percent) say politics is extremely important.
“These numbers show evangelicals have a greater passion for politics than most, which could say something about the issues of our day. Some of the biggest political issues today involve evangelicals, which could explain why they are engaged at a higher level than others,” said Ed Stetzer, executive director of the Billy Graham Center.
“Evangelicals care for and tend to be involved in the communities in which they live,” Stetzer said. “We have come a long way from 50 years ago, when many evangelicals thought political involvement was worldly.”
Four in 10 African-American evangelicals by belief say politics is extremely important to them—more than any other ethnicity.
Evangelicals by belief and self-identified evangelicals are more likely than non-evangelicals to belong to one of the two major political parties.
Among evangelicals by belief, 44 percent are Republicans, 32 percent Democrats and 14 percent independents. Self-identified evangelicals are slightly less Republican. Forty-one percent say they are part of the Republican party, 32 percent Democratic party and 15 percent independent. Non-evangelicals are more diverse with 23 percent Republicans, 36 percent Democrats and 23 percent independents.
The 2016 Presidential Election
Evangelical by belief voters are the most likely to say they felt strong support for their candidate when they voted and are most likely to still feel strong support for that candidate today.