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Trump Election Revealed Fractures Among Diverse Evangelical Community


A lot of different kinds of people helped elect Donald Trump - white working-class voters, yes, but also some Hispanics, white women and an overwhelming number of evangelical Christians. On the one hand, it's not that surprising. Evangelicals have been reliably Republican. But Donald Trump did a lot and said a lot that was really difficult for some evangelicals to make peace with. We're joined now by Julie Roys. She's an evangelical blogger and the host of a national radio show called Up for Debate.

Julie, thanks for being with us.

JULIE ROYS: Oh, great to be with you, Rachel.

MARTIN: Exit polls say more than 80 percent of self-described evangelicals voted for Donald Trump. Were you surprised by that number?

ROYS: Yes and no. No because I think there were so many evangelicals who were very strongly against Hillary Clinton, against her progressive policies. And so there's a lot of backlash, I think, that that vote represented. At the same time, at least if you look at evangelical leaders, they were very divided. There were a lot of us who spoke out (laughter) against aligning with Donald Trump because of the things...

MARTIN: We should say you were one of them. You strongly opposed Donald Trump.

ROYS: I was one of them, yes, because of the things that he said, things that were interpreted as racist or xenophobic, the horrific things he said about women.

MARTIN: You can tell me no, but may I ask who you voted for?

ROYS: (Laughter) I voted for Evan McMullin.

MARTIN: You did.

ROYS: Donald Trump, I'm kind of crossing my fingers.

MARTIN: So what do you want him to do? In the best case scenario, what does he do that reassures you?

ROYS: Well, I can say that for the majority of my evangelical friends, the reason they voted for Donald Trump was the Supreme Court. They were very, very concerned about all the, you know, possible nominations that are coming up. And they were very concerned about the court becoming very progressive.

MARTIN: As you know, evangelicals have been treated as this kind of monolithic voting bloc in the political discourse. I think it's worth just taking a moment now, after this election with this huge result that surprised so many people, but just - what is an evangelical Christian in 2016?

ROYS: Well, that's a great question you ask, and I think there's a lot of people asking that within our movement. Traditionally, evangelicalism has meant, one, an adherence to conversionism - that there needs to be a heart conversion to Jesus Christ, inerrancy of Scripture, that it - the Scripture, the word of God, is authoritative for our lives.

And one other thing I wanted to mention, though, is that we are not monolithic racially. And even as I've looked at so many of the polls, they say, well, 4 out of 5 evangelicals voted this way. It's white evangelicals who voted that way. And when I listen to my Hispanic and my, you know, African-American brothers in the same movement, they didn't vote this way, and they're really distraught right now. And they're very upset with their white evangelical brothers and sisters. And some of them even wondering, I don't know if I want to be unified with you because you supported somebody that said the kind of, you know, racist and what they see as xenophobic things.

And as white evangelicals who supported Donald Trump, I think we owe them a responsibility to listen and to empathize.

MARTIN: We have seen all these reports in recent days of acts of racism, of middle schoolers having to suffer some kind of vitriol being thrown at them in the name of Donald Trump. Do you think he, as the president-elect, needs to come out and say something to disavow that behavior?

ROYS: Yes, absolutely he does. And I do think that's a responsibility the evangelicals around him - to say this needs to be said. And you need to reassure the Hispanic, you know, segment of this country and the African-American segment of this country that you're going to be a president for everyone.

And I have to say - for every evangelical that I know personally, not a single one of them was voting motivated by racist impulses. So I think Donald Trump needs to come out. He needs to mend the divides that are there, and he needs to bring unity. It's critical.

MARTIN: Julie Roys - she's an evangelical blogger and host of the show Up for Debate. Julie, thanks so much for talking with us.

ROYS: Oh, great being with you. Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.