April 4, 2024 - 4:30pm

America’s political Left is attempting to weaken the Republican Party’s stranglehold on the evangelical vote.

A new six-figure ad campaign from Faith Forward, a group which targets centrist and progressive voters with religious backgrounds in swing states, is a case in point.

“God said we need leaders who can unite rather than divide, who stand on morals and values and who don’t idolise dictators and bullies,” a new clip from this week says. “President Biden answered the call […] we pray to God what is true in our hearts: four more years.”

The group’s core issues include legal abortion, LGBT rights, climate and “the threat of Christian nationalism”. Its social media posts highlight Joe Biden’s Catholic faith and Donald Trump’s perceived moral failings.

This is part of a broader push to promote Christian critics of Trump and the GOP, as the Daily Wire’s Megan Basham has reported: the Evangelical Immigration Table has reportedly received well over one million dollars from secular Left-wing foundations affiliated with George Soros for a project aimed at promoting amnesty legislation. The After Party, a study programme aimed at “reframing Christian political identity” and led by anti-Trump evangelicals including the New York Times‘s David French, received funding from Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors, a Left-wing philanthropy behemoth.

Evangelical Christians make up about 30% of Republicans and 14% of the US electorate. They remain solidly Republican, but their support for the GOP is slowly waning: Trump won 92% of the evangelical vote in 2016, but only 81% in 2020.

Evangelicals, or born-again Christians, are religiously conservative: they generally believe that faith in Christ is the only route to salvation, and large majorities reject the theory of evolution. Most reject same-sex marriage and abortion. The group is heavily concentrated in the Southeast, a conservative and rural region.

But there has long been a contingent within evangelicalism which is sceptical of Republican politics. Trump’s 2016 campaign thrust Never-Trump religious believers into the national limelight and inspired fierce debate about the political responsibilities of Christians — especially regarding immigrants and refugees, gay and trans people, and racial minorities. There was also substantial concern about Trump’s status as a thrice-married man and rumoured philanderer.

Christian leaders who publicly oppose Trump have meanwhile been subject to criticism from evangelicals and the occasional conspiracy theory that they are actually Democratic plants who successfully infiltrated the church.

Evangelicals are vulnerable to a Leftward drift on climate change and systemic racism, issues on which the Biden campaign specifically tried to court them in 2020. The racial reckoning of 2020 was particularly significant for the evangelical community: the Southern Baptist Convention declared that “Black Lives Matter” and elected a leader who ran on a pro-diversity message, and there has been a widespread effort among evangelical pastors to incorporate anti-racist themes in sermons.

Rather than catering to religious voters by moderating on social issues, as past Democrats such as Bill Clinton have done, this latest push aims to change evangelicals’ policy preferences by making the Christian case for abortion and encouraging a lenient immigration policy. November will provide insight into whether this strategy works.

is UnHerd’s US correspondent.