(RNS) A strong white evangelical, Catholic and Mormon vote for Donald Trump belied the condemnation many religious leaders had leveled at the tycoon and paved the way for a stunning upset after a long and polarizing campaign.
Preliminary exit polls indicate these religious groups voted for Trump by strong margins — in some cases larger than they had given to GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney in 2012.
Christians who described themselves as evangelical and born-again gave Trump 81 percent of their votes, up 3 percentage points from their support for Mitt Romney, the 2012 GOP presidential nominee. Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton garnered 16 percent of their votes.
Evangelical support for Trump surged even as prominent evangelicals, including Southern Baptist Russell Moore, railed against Trump’s behavior toward immigrants, women and other groups as un-Christian.“Donald Trump made the most full-throated and aggressive appeal to evangelical voters … since Ronald Reagan spoke to the Religious Roundtable in August of 1980,” said Ralph Reed, chairman of the Faith & Freedom Coalition. “He made these voters of faith a centerpiece of his campaign.” Continue reading