Evangelicals Are 'Listening' to Republicans Over Scripture, Religion Scholar Says

A prominent scholar of religious studies believes that many evangelical Christians in the U.S. are currently listening to the Republican Party over the teachings of the Bible.

Dr. Anthea Butler, a professor and chair of religious studies at the University of Pennsylvania, made the assessment during a Wednesday interview with MSNBC host Joy-Ann Reid. During the segment, the professor addressed the conspiracy theory touted by some prominent conservatives that Democrats want more immigrants to come to replace Republican and white voters.

"One of the things I think is really important about this is, you look at the statistics about white evangelicals right now, they are the least likely group to want to welcome immigrants, which flies in the face of what their Christian doctrine is supposed to be, that you welcome the stranger, right?" Butler said.

"You're supposed to do that as a Christian. But they're not listening to what Scripture says. What they are listening to is what the Republican Party says," the professor asserted.

Evangelicals for Trump
According to a scholar of religious studies, white Evangelical Christians are listening to the Republican Party instead of the Bible. President Donald Trump stands in a prayer circle with Christian faith leaders during an "Evangelicals for Trump" campaign event held at the King Jesus International Ministry on January 3, 2020 in Miami, Florida. JIM WATSON/AFP via Getty Images

Back in April, Butler also raised her concerns about white evangelicals during a webinar entitled White Evangelical Racism: The Politics of Morality in America.

"As much as I hate to say this, I'm going to put it this way, if evangelicals don't change, they pose an existential crisis to us all," the religious scholar said.

"They have divided the nation politically. They don't want to believe in climate change. They don't want to get vaccines...they are part and parcel of the reason why we cannot move forward because they say they have religious beliefs but this is religious recalcitrance. It is not something that is about belief, is not what they believe theologically. It is about a positionality that they have, that they have chosen to have that is taking us all over the brink," she added.

Polling released by the Public Religion Research Institute in March 2020 showed that a substantial majority of white evangelicals appeared to view immigrants negatively. That study found that about two-thirds (67 percent) of white evangelical Protestants view "newcomers" as a threat to American traditions.

Furthermore, about two-thirds (66 percent) of white evangelicals said that those immigrants are invading the U.S. Notably, this was the only religious demographic included in the polling with a majority holding that viewpoint. The survey also showed that 62 percent of white evangelicals believe immigrants increase crime in local communities.

The religious demographic voted overwhelmingly for former President Donald Trump in 2016 and again in 2020. About eight in 10 white evangelicals voted for the Republican candidate in both elections. Trump campaigned in 2016 largely on preventing undocumented migrants from coming to the country, with "Build the Wall" being one of his most popular slogans.

Newsweek reached out to Butler for further comment but did not immediately receive a response.