Mark your calendars for Tuesday, Dec. 5, when the Brookings Institution and Public Religion Research Institute release results from the eighth annual “American Values Survey.”
Those in the D.C. area can attend a 10 a.m. presser and panel at Brookings. (Media contact: firstname.lastname@example.org or 646–823-2216). There will be special interest in the eight-year trend lines and how the Donald Trump Era is reshaping moral and political attitudes among white evangelicals.
Analysts inside and outside the evangelical movement note its famously moralistic past, including excoriation of President Bill Clinton. Countless articles have joined in head-scratching over the willingness of certain old-guard evangelical personalities and so many constituents to pooh-pooh sexual misconduct accusations as they back President Trump and now also Republican Senate candidate Roy Moore, who faces Alabama voters Dec. 12.
The Religion Guy won’t rehearse those matters, which are all over the news, or assess the credibility of the two politicians’ denials of wrongdoing.
But let's look ahead. Here’s a big-think theme for reporters: Is the Trump-Moore nexus reinforcing a developing image of moral hypocrisy that could mar evangelical Protestantism the way molestation scandals grievously damaged the moral stature of U.S. Catholicism the past three decades?
You may want to start a research folder on this.
The evangelical plight has been examined by an outside critic, Molly Worthen of the University of North Carolina, Southern Baptist spokesman Russell Moore, and a conservative Catholic, New York Times columnist Ross Douthat. Douthat’s piece in turn provoked notice from Eastern Orthodox author Rod Dreher (including a fascinating mini-essay from a reader). In addition, note this GetReligion podcast, featuring a classic Billy Graham take on this issue.