A new survey finds that divisions based on religion remain within the Republican Party almost two years after the election of Donald Trump. The survey, conducted by Emily Ekins for the Voter Study Group, finds that regular church attenders who voted for Trump over Clinton still tend to hold different views than his more secular supporters, and that the more devout segment of the GOP is still less enthusiastic about Trump, scoring lower on populism on economic issues and on “authoritarian” and “tribal” values on questions of race and identity. The voters’ views were analyzed based on their frequency of church attendance (from “never” to “weekly” or more often). It was found that the more frequent the attendance, the less “white-identitarian” they appeared, the more they expressed favorable views of racial minorities, and the less they agreed with populist arguments on trade and immigration.

(This study can be downloaded at:

Protestant pastors are addressing issues of domestic and sexual abuse and harassment in fairly large numbers, according to a study by LifeWay Research. The research firm surveyed 1,000 pastors by phone during the summer of 2018, as the #MeToo and #ChurchToo (the Christian counterpart to #MeToo) movements dominated the news. The survey found 51 percent of Protestant pastors saying they speak to their congregations about the issues at least several times a year, compared with 34 percent in 2014. Almost two-thirds of the pastors surveyed both this year and four years ago said that domestic or sexual violence occurs in the lives of their congregants. There was an uptick from 2014 to 2018 in both the number of pastors reporting having experienced domestic and sexual violence themselves and the number reporting knowing a loved one who had experienced this violence. Eight in 10 said they know someone who has experienced domestic or sexual violence, an increase from 74 percent in 2014.

(This study can be downloaded at:

A study by political scientist Ryan Burge shows that older evangelicals are less activated by traditional social issues, such as gay marriage, gun control, abortion, and taxes, than are younger evangelicals (including Millennials). In the blog Religion in Public (September 10), Ryan Burge analyzes the 2016 Cooperative Congressional Election Study and finds fewer differences between younger and older generations of evangelicals than are usually claimed. What stood out, however, is how many of the culture war issues do not move retired evangelicals. The issues that they care about the most are national security, corruption, social security, immigration, and crime. For older white non-evangelicals of the same age group, immigration is the eighth most important issue, compared to older evangelicals rating it the fourth most important. Because older respondents of any religion put immigration fifth on their list of concerns, it is not necessarily the case that the issue stands as a special threat to older evangelicals.

(Religion in Public,

A study of Mormons who go on the yearlong spiritual missions required of young people by the LDS church finds both positive attitudes about the experience and a more recent pattern of early returns.
The Next Mormon survey found that the majority of those going on church missions say they had a positive experience, even if they came home early. “But those early returns are increasing. In our study, we did not have a single Boomer/Silent respondent, male or female, who had returned early from a mission. This was the ‘don’t come home early unless it’s in a coffin’ generation. By the time we get to the Millennials, it’s nearly one in five,” writes Jana Reiss in her blog for Religion News Service (September 26). And of Millennials who actually went on missions (rather than the generation as a whole), fully one-third came home before their assigned time. These early return missionaries did not experience a loving welcome when they came home earlier than expected. Nearly six in 10 respondents in a Utah Valley University study said their wards were unfriendly or indifferent, and nearly half said their local church leaders treated them poorly (though fewer than one-third experienced such a reception in their own families). The rate of early return is slightly higher among women than it is among men, a finding that stands out, since the rate of missionary service has grown especially among women, more than tripling from Boomer/Silent women (13 percent) to Millennial women (44.5 percent).

(This study can be downloaded at:

The growth of short-term missions has been influenced by the presence of immigrants in churches and is having a strong effect on building transnational ties, according to a study in the journal Sociology of Religion (Fall). Short-term mission (STM) travel is practiced by over one-quarter of all American churches annually, as members travel abroad to engage in ministry and social service projects with sister churches in countries in the global South. Researchers Gary Adler and Andrea Ruiz of Penn State University analyze data from the third wave of the National Congregations Study and find an “immigrant effect” in churches involved with STM, with about 30 percent of such travel taking the form of “civic remittance in which recent immigrants and their U.S. congregations aid foreign communities.”

Most congregations engaging in STM trips are evangelicals, while non-evangelical churches and traditions show a low level of such involvement. But the presence of immigrants in mainline Protestant churches also increased the likelihood of engaging in STM (even if it did not have an effect on non-Protestant traditions). Nearly one-third of STM travel came from congregations with recent immigrants, suggesting that the “transnational flow of immigration is connected to the flow of STM travel.” The authors conclude that, “while large relief and development organizations visibly dominate the portrait of religious transnational civic engagement, our research shows how a decentralized form of civic engagement is produced at the congregational level….”

(Sociology of Religion,