American Journal of Cultural Sociology

, Volume 5, Issue 3, pp 338–354 | Cite as

Why evangelicals voted for Trump: A critical cultural sociology

  • Philip GorskiEmail author
Original Article


Most white evangelicals viewed Donald Trump as the lesser of two evils. They were driven by concerns about abortion, religious freedom, and the Supreme Court. But a plurality preferred him to other GOP candidates. Why? Because they are white Christian nationalists. As such, they were attracted by Trump’s racialized, apocalyptic, and blood-drenched rhetoric. It recalled an earlier version of American religious nationalism, one that antedated the softened tones of modern-day “American exceptionalism” first introduced by Ronald Reagan. At the same time, Trumpism was stripped of the explicit allusions to Christian scripture that traditionally tethered American religious nationalism to Christian political theology. One way of reading Trumpism, then, is as a reactionary and secularized version of white Christian nationalism. I conclude by arguing that the proper response to Trumpism is not to double down on radical secularism but to recover America’s civil religious tradition.


Trumpism American exceptionalism religious nationalism civil religion evangelicalism 


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Copyright information

© Macmillan Publishers Ltd 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of SociologyYale UniversityNew HavenUSA

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