There’s been so much attention paid to Donald Trump’s intense (if transactional) relationship with white conservative Evangelical leaders and voters that it’s easy to forget there are other people of faith who are politically active. Now, as in the recent past, those who self-identify with America’s largest religious denomination, the Roman Catholic Church, are very close to the average voter politically in how they feel about the 45th president. Yes, unsurprisingly, white Catholics are more prone to smile on Trump than nonwhite Catholics. But all in all, American Catholics are more likely than not to disapprove of the heathenish warlord’s tenure as president.
That basic conclusion is actually reinforced by a new survey from two conservative media outlets, EWTN News (Eternal Word Television Network, which offers exclusively Catholic content and also owns the conservative National Catholic Register) and RealClearOpinion Research. It shows Catholics overall being less than jazzed about Trump, though he’s doing a bit better of late:
The poll found that slightly less than half of all Catholics (47%) approve of President Trump’s job performance. This marks a small improvement in his approval rate, which was 44% in November 2019. Likewise, about one-third (34%) of Catholics say they will definitely vote to re-elect President Trump, and another 12% report that there’s a good chance. Similar numbers say they will oppose him (36% would never vote for him; 10% say it is unlikely) — the remaining 8% say it is possible that they would vote to re-elect him.
But what’s interesting about the poll is that its sponsors work hard to correlate support for Trump with fidelity to the One True Faith:
[T]he poll found that 18% of Catholics indicate that they accept all of the Church’s teachings and those are reflected in how they live their lives …
That relatively small group of Catholics often described as devout or active, one-fifth of the Catholic population, claims to accept all the teachings of the Church and lives and votes very differently from many of their fellow Americans and even their fellow Catholics. They are more active in their daily practice of the faith, go to Mass more often, and are guided by Catholic teaching on a more regular basis as they discern how to vote and how to respond to the great social issues and moral crises of our time.
And guess what:
[P]ositive numbers for President Trump depend heavily on the devout Catholics. Among this group, 63% approve of the president. Similarly, 59% of devout Catholics plan to vote for Trump in 2020; another 8% say there’s a good chance, and only 20% say they will never vote for him.
If it weren’t for those bad, Cafeteria Catholics …
[I]n the head-to-head matchups against would-be rivals in the November election … President Trump still trails the Democrats among all Catholics, in every hypothetical matchup at this stage of the campaign.
[But] a majority of devout Catholics … support the president consistently against all of his prospective Democrat opponents.
The poll sponsors’ write-up frets that aside from presidential preferences, American Catholics continue to rebel against Church teachings on cultural issues:
Less than half of all Catholics say that abortion (47%), euthanasia (45%), or physician-assisted suicide (41%) are intrinsically evil. This is, of course, in direct contradiction to the Church and is in sharp contrast with the views of active or devout Catholics; 71% of devout Catholics believe abortion is intrinsically evil, 70% believe physician-assisted suicide is intrinsically evil, and 64% believe euthanasia is intrinsically evil.
But there is some consensus among believers of all stripes:
[O]verwhelming numbers are found on the questions of whether Catholics believe in hell and the devil. Some 81% of all Catholics believe in hell, and 79% believe in the devil; and of those who believe in the devil, 79% say the devil is not merely a personification or a symbol of evil but is a fallen angel.
Some Catholics believe they and conservative politicians are fighting the good fight against Satan and his imps. Others get downwind of Donald Trump and smell the brimstone. Devoutly.