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Palgrave Macmillan

Religious Rhetoric in US Right-Wing Politics

Donald Trump, Intergroup Threat, and Nationalism

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  • © 2022


  • Contextualizes support for Donald Trump's presidency within national and global trends
  • Combines original interview data with analysis of textual artifacts
  • Considers how religious symbols and narratives have been used to cultivate political power

Part of the book series: Palgrave Studies in Religion, Politics, and Policy (PSRPP)

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Table of contents (10 chapters)


About this book

This book seeks to understand white conservative Christians’ support for Donald Trump, using their own words. Drawing on the triangular relationship between the 45th president, and his voters, and religious organizations, this work investigates the creation of the tale of Trump as the protector and enhancer of Christian values. The first part of the book discusses in detail the white conservative Christian constituency in the United States, and the development of feelings of displacement and resentment fostered by intergroup threat and nationalism. The central part focuses on the actor known as the “Religious Right,” through the rhetoric of one of their most representative organizations in the twenty-first century. The final part focuses on the character of Donald Trump and his peculiar relationship with religious discourse. The book demonstrates that while such discourse is expected of Trump as a Republican candidate, his approach to it is characterized by detachment andsloganized exploitation of Christian symbols. Ultimately, the book highlights the cultural tools that are crucial in the reproduction of structures of inequality and the ways they have been used by conservative politicians and groups to accumulate power.


“White evangelical support for Trump still leaves a considerable puzzle to solve, especially whether religion in its many guises was involved. On top of a thorough recitation of the literature, Migliori looks to the words used to explain support for Trump by average voters, interest groups, and other national elites. Her answer, from talking to average voters, effectively challenges the centrality of Christian Right organizations as information brokers as they are not speaking the same language. The book is well worth a look for those interested in religion and politics of the Trump era.” (—Paul A. Djupe, Associate Professor of Political Science, Denison University, USA)


“The subject of this book is an extremely timely and important one. Migliori’s work is the first large-scale qualitative study of how and why religious conservatism bolstered support for Trump despite his overt character flaws. Understanding the Trump phenomenon is absolutely essentialdue to its unprecedented nature in the U.S. and its similarity to right-wing authoritarian politics in other national contexts.” (—Laura Olson, Thurmond Professor of Political Science, Clemson University, USA)

“Although the Christian Right has long been a central actor in Republican politics, the embrace of Donald Trump by many but not all movement activists came as a surprise to many. A movement that had claimed that Bill Clinton’s affair disqualified him for the office of the presidency embraced a man who paid off a pornstar and who bragged about multiple sexual affairs. A movement that had long upheld the Bible as a source of guidance embraced a man who was the poster boy for the Seven Deadly Sins. In this carefully researched book, Chiara Migliori traces evolving evangelical reactions to Donald Trump, dissects the various frames for his presidency from the right and the left, and helps us makes sense of our cultural movement. Highly recommended.” (—Clyde Wilcox, Professor of Government, Georgetown University, Qatar)

Authors and Affiliations

  • John F. Kennedy Institute, Freie Universität Berlin, Berlin, Germany

    Chiara M. Migliori

About the author

Chiara M. Migliori earned her PhD in 2020 from the Graduate School of North American Studies, John F. Kennedy Institute, Freie Universität Berlin, Germany.

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