Donald Trump's Push For Reopening Churches Was Sparked By Waning Evangelical Support, Report Says

Donald Trump's recent demand that churches immediately reopen was influenced by waning support from religious conservatives, Politico reported.

The report points to a pair of surveys from earlier this month that found that Trump's favorability among religious groups key to his reelection — white evangelicals and white Catholics — is dipping.

In April, a survey from the Public Religion Research Institute showed that Trump's favorability among white evangelicals decreased by 11 points. Among white Catholics, his favorability dropped 12 points, and among white mainline protestants it fell 18 points.

Last week, Pew Research Center released data that revealed a 7-point increase in white Catholics who disapprove of the president's response to the pandemic, as well as a 6-point dip among white evangelicals who previously supported his response.

"White evangelical Protestants are a strongly Republican constituency, and their declining confidence in the president mirrors a slight decrease among Republicans overall."
According to the survey, white evangelicals are more likely than other religious groups to believe that the coronavirus restrictions will not be lifted quickly enough. In addition, they are more likely to be in favor of fewer local restrictions.

Per Politico, the president's recent push for churches is allegedly an attempt to "safeguard his relationship with religious conservatives," who were crucial in his 2016 win against Hillary Clinton.

"Some governors have deemed liquor stores and abortion clinics as essential, but have left out churches and other houses of worship," Trump said of the closures.

"It's not right," he added, before noting he is deeming houses of worship to be essential services.

In addition to a push for reopening churches, Trump's allies within his campaign and beyond are allegedly focused on outreach to religious voters. The president is also doing his own outreach, and recently attended an online worship service hosted by St. Patrick's Cathedral in New York.

According to Trump campaign spokesman Ken Farnaso, the reelection campaign aims to "engage the Christian community nationwide " to ensure that Trump is reelected.

"In addition to his extraordinary record on conservative and faith-based issues, he has appointed well over 180 solid, conservative federal judges … defended religious freedoms and has stood as the most pro-life president we've ever had."
Social distancing guidelines have pushed the majority of U.S. churches to either close or move services into a virtual setting. The restrictions have pushed many religious institutions across the country to take legal action against their respective states. Some of these institutions argued that certain state guidelines amount to religious discrimination.