Pessimism of white evangelical Americans is boon for Donald Trump

Reuters

The pessimism of white American evangelicals about the economy and other issues is helping build support for the presidential campaign of Donald Trump.

Perceptions of Islam in the US are becoming more and more negative, according to latest research. 

Nearly six in ten Americans now believe that that the values of Islam are at odds with American values and way of life. This compares to fewer than five in ten when the same question was asked just four years ago. 

Among white evangelical Protestants the proportion is even higher. Seventy-three percent of white evangelical Protestants believe Islam is at odds with American values, compared with 63 percent of white mainline Protestants, 61 percent of Catholics and 55 percent of black Protestants.

The latest American values survey by Public Religion Research finds also that there is a high level of distrust about the economy. Half of all Americans now believe the country's best days are behind it, and this belief is particularly strong among white, evangelical Christians.

This is one of the beliefs that Republican frontrunner Trump is capitalising on in his campaign and helps explain why he is doing so well.

The pessimism about the state of the country is reflected in raised levels of concern about crime, racial tensions and immigration, the survey reports.

More than 2,600 Americans were surveyed between September 11 and October 4 this year for the sixth annual values survey of its kind. The survey measures the relationship between religious affiliation and political attitudes as well as public opinion about the economy, racial discrimination, the criminal justice system, trust in public institutions, perception of the Tea Party and views of immigrants.

Dr Dan Cox, research director of the institute, said: "Americans are increasingly uncertain about the country's future, while nostalgia for the 1950s is widely felt among some segments of the electorate. Feelings of anxiety and pessimism are notable among white Americans, but are especially pronounced among white evangelical Protestants and members of the Tea Party."

In addition, supporters of Donald Trump are much more likely to express negative views of immigrants than supporters of other candidates. Eight in ten Trump supporters say that immigrants today are a burden to the US because they take American jobs, housing, and health care.

The survey also found that Trump supporters are more concerned about discrimination against white Americans and white men in particular. About three in four Trump supporters agree that, today, discrimination against whites has become as big a problem as discrimination against blacks and other minorities.

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