Politics and Evangelical Christians

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A Panel Discussion

Randall Balmer
Dartmouth College

John Fea
Messiah College

Date: April 8, 2019

Co-sponsored with Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary in South Hamilton, Mass.


What is the relationship between evangelicals and politics? How do some evangelical groups think through their responsibilities to vote? What historical roots provide deeper insight into the high turnout of evangelical support for Donald Trump? Do evangelicals see voting Republican as synonymous with or tied to being a Christian and living out their faith? Randall Balmer and John Fea -- both authors of recent books covering evangelicals and American politics -- will address these questions and more at a co-sponsored event at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary.

Speaker Bios

Randall Balmer

Randall Balmer holds the John Phillips Chair in Religion at Dartmouth, the oldest endowed professorship at Dartmouth College. A prize-winning historian and Emmy Award nominee, Balmer earned his Ph.D. from Princeton University in 1985 and taught as Professor of American Religious History at Columbia University for twenty-seven years before becoming the Mandel Family Professor in the Arts & Sciences at Dartmouth College in 2012. Balmer has published more than a dozen books, including Redeemer: The Life of Jimmy CarterGod in the White House: How Faith Shaped the Presidency from John F. Kennedy to George W. Bush, and The Making of Evangelicalism: From Revivalism to Politics and Beyond. His second book, Mine Eyes Have Seen the Glory: A Journey into the Evangelical Subculture in America, now in its fifth edition, was made into an award-winning, three-part documentary for PBS.

John Fea

John Fea is professor of American history at Messiah College. Fea received his Ph.D. in American history from the State University of New York at Stony Brook. His interests center on early American history, American religious history, the history of religion and politics, and the place of historical thinking in a democratic society. Fea recently published Believe Me: The Evangelical Road to Donald Trump (Eerdmans Publishing, 2018), and, among his five other books, his 2011 manuscript, Was America Founded as a Christian Nation: A Historical Introduction (Westminster/John Knox Press), was selected as a Choice Outstanding Academic Title and as Religion Book of the Year (Gold Medalist) by the Association of Independent Publishers.

Read More


Bean, Lydia. The Politics of Evangelical Identity : Local Churches and Partisan Divides in the United States and Canada. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2014.  

Boerl, W Christopher, and Dovoband, Katie. A God More Powerful Than Yours : American Evangelicals, Politics, and the Internet Age. Newcastle upon Tyne, UK: Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2015.  

Heltzel, G Peter. Jesus and Justice: Evangelicals, Race, and American Politics. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2009.

Hoffman, T. Marie. When the Roll is Called: Trauma and the Soul of American Evangelicalism. Eugene, OR: Cascade Books, 2016.

FitzGerald, Frances. The Evangelicals: The Struggle to Shape America. New York, NY: Simon & Schuster, 2017.

Linn, Jann. Evangelicalism and the Decline of American Politics. Eugene, OR: Cascade Books, 2017.

Marsh, Charles. Wayward Christian Soldiers. New York: Oxford University Press, 2007.


Coleman, Simon. “An Empire on the Hill? The Christian Right and the Right to be Christian in America,” Anthropological Quarterly 78, no.3 (2005): 653-671. DOI:10.1353/anq.2005.0034.

Dias, Elizabeth. “‘God Is Going to Have to Forgive Me’: Young Evangelicals Speak Out,” The New York Times. November 1, 2018.

Gerson, Michael. “The Last Temptation,” The Atlantic. April, 2018.

Griffis, Chelsea. “‘In the Beginning Was the Word’: Evangelical Christian Women, the Equal Rights Amendment, and Competing Definitions of Womanhood.” Frontiers: A Journal of Women’s Studies 38, no.2, (2017): 148-172. 

Haberman, Clyde. “Religion and Right-Wing Politics: How Evangelicals Reshaped Elections,” The New York Times. October 28, 2018.

Kurtzleben, Danielle. “Are You An Evangelical? Are You Sure?” NPR. December 19, 2015.

The Editors. “The Religious Right & Wrong,” Commonweal Magazine. July 25, 2017.

Woodward, Kenneth L. “How Religion Got Trump,” Commonweal Magazine. May 7, 2018.

In the News

recent survey by the Pew Research Center revealed that among American religious groups, evangelical support of President Donald Trump remains strong. According to the Pew Center's report, "Roughly seven-in-ten white evangelical Protestants (69%) say they approve of the way Trump is handling his job as president." Other religious groups are less supportive, though Catholics are still more in favor of President Trump than the religiously unaffiliated. Of the religious groups surveyed, non-white Catholics and black Protestants approve of the president least, with only 26% and 12% of those surveyed approving, respectively.