NEW YORK — New data reveals that an overwhelming majority of white American Catholics believe President Donald Trump fights on their behalf, while also indicating he continues to struggle to win over Hispanic Catholics — a majority of whom view him as prejudiced.
The new findings were released on Thursday by the Pew Research Center show that two-thirds of white Catholics say the phrase “fights for what I believe in” describes Trump very well or fairly well.
Among Hispanic Catholics, however, the president fared poorly, with 56 percent saying they believe him to be fairly prejudiced. Such numbers are consistent with other minority groups, including seven-in-ten black Protestants, along with Jews, who say they think Trump is at least fairly “prejudiced.”
Among those surveyed, 68 percent of white Catholic respondents agreed that “intelligent” is a fairly or very good descriptor of the president, with only 44 percent of Hispanic Catholics ranking him as such.
Relatedly, 77 percent of Catholics said they believe the president to be self-centered, compared to only 39 percent of whom believe him to be honest, 36 who believe him to be morally upstanding, and 30 percent who believe him to be even-tempered.
The survey results come just days after the latest round of primary voting in the Democratic contest for president where former Vice President Joe Biden, an outspoken Catholic, has emerged as the presumptive nominee poised to take on Trump in the fall.
Last month, Pew Research Center found that a majority of American Catholics — almost 60 percent — say they view Biden as either “very” or “somewhat” religious.
Despite the fact the president is a Presbyterian, Pew’s latest findings, conducted from February 4-15, found that most of those surveyed could not identify his religion, with about a third responding that they think Trump is Protestant and 8 percent believe him to be Catholic.
Among those surveyed, eight-in-ten U.S. Christians prioritize having a president who stands up for people with their religious beliefs more than they are concerned with having one who shares their beliefs, including 73 percent of Catholics who share this view.
A majority of white American Catholics (58 percent) said they tend to agree with “all or nearly all” or “many, but not all” issues with the president, compared to only 30 percent of Hispanics.
Comparatively, based on data available over the last four years of the Trump administration, white Catholic belief is at an all-time high in their conviction that “their side” has been winning politically, with 55 percent agreeing with that statement in February 2020, up from 26 percent in May 2016.
According to the Pew findings, “the positive sentiments that white Christians express about Trump and their growing sense that their side has been winning politically largely reflect their political partisanship,” with survey results showing that 65 percent of white Catholics identify with or lean toward the Republican Party.
Although many religious leaders were hesitant to warm to Trump early on in his bid to the presidency, the majority of those surveyed believed that the president has helped evangelical Christians — which now make up his strongest electoral base — than any other group. Comparatively, only 26 percent of White American Catholics believe the president has helped their interests, with 62 percent saying he has made no difference.
While religion is always looked upon as a critical factor in national elections, more than half of U.S. Christians say Christianity’s influence on American life is decreasing, with 49 percent of Catholics believing this to be the case.
As for the reason for this decline, most Catholics — which have endured nearly decades of scandals related to clergy abuse — cited misconduct by Christian leaders as major cause of Christianity’s declining influence.
Follow Christopher White on Twitter: @cwwhite212
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