A new survey shows evangelicals and atheists are sharply divided over which presidential candidate to support in 2016.
The Pew Research Center study released Wednesday finds nearly four out of five white evangelicals back Donald Trump, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, while two-thirds of atheists or agnostics plan to support Hillary Clinton, the likely Democratic nominee. Each constituency makes up about one-fifth of registered voters.
Ken Blackwell, a senior fellow at the Family Research Council, said the data suggest the political parties are becoming increasingly polarized on religious grounds. He attributed the phenomenon to the Obama administration’s effort to drive faith from the public square, drawing a backlash from evangelicals with a broader view of what religious liberty entails.
“I think without question the Obama administration has been very aggressive in trying to relegate the practice of religion to the four corners of houses of worship,” Mr. Blackwell said. “Therefore, the resistance to that sort of narrowing of the concept of religious freedom has grown more intense on the other side.”
Nearly half of white evangelicals report that it has become more difficult to live their faith in the last several years. And 82 percent of white evangelicals who say it’s harder to be an evangelical today support Mr. Trump, while 72 percent of those who say it isn’t more difficult to be an evangelical support the GOP candidate.