David Campbell and Geoffrey Layman
The Washington Post
Originally published April 25, 2019
Recently, Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg has been criticizing religious conservatives — especially Vice President Pence — for supporting President Trump, despite his lewd behavior. To drive home the point, Buttigieg often refers to Trump as the “porn star president.”
We were curious about the attitudes of rank-and-file evangelicals. After more than two years of Trump in the White House, how do they feel about a president’s private morality?
From 2011 to 2016, white evangelicals dramatically changed their minds about the importance of politicians’ private behavior
Back in 2016, many journalists and commentators pointed out a stunning change in how white evangelicals perceived the connection between private and public morality. In 2011, a poll conducted by the Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI) and the Religion News Service found that 60 percent of white evangelicals believed that a public official who “commits an immoral act in their personal life” cannot still “behave ethically and fulfill their duties in their public and professional life.” But in an October 2016 poll by PRRI and the Brookings Institution — after the release of the infamous “Access Hollywood” tape — only 20 percent of evangelicals, answering the same question, said that private immorality meant someone could not behave ethically in public.
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