As a result of immigration, Latinx membership in Evangelical churches is skyrocketing, and they are now the fastest-growing demographic within American Evangelicalism. Together with the increasing political liberalization of young Evangelicals, members of many Evangelical churches are rethinking their church’s conservative position on immigration. The emergence of a new cohort of young Latinx leaders makes it increasingly likely that this change at the base will translate in the next years into an Evangelical challenge to the Republican Party on immigration. The anti-immigration stance of a number of highly visible Evangelical leaders, such as Jerry Falwell, Jr., and their support for the hard-line anti-immigration policies of the Trump Administration, belie a more complicated immigration debate taking place within the Evangelical community. Key sectors within Evangelical Christianity have begun calling for immigration reform, framing the need for reform in theological terms (“welcoming the stranger”). Once policy issues become theological issues, they become “sticky” and resistant to change. My research argues that if a more progressive position on immigration takes hold within American Evangelical Christianity, it will pose an existential challenge to the Republican Party. How both the Republican and Democratic parties respond to this challenge will not only impact the national debate on immigration but could fundamentally alter electoral politics in the United States. This research aims to highlight the ways that shifts in public opinion within religious groups in the US have profound impacts on state and national politics.
Latino, Latinx, Evangelical, Republican, Trump, Politics, Elections, United States
The Politics of Religion
Paper Presentation in a Themed Session
Liesl Haas Haas
California State University
Liesl Haas is Professor of Political Science at California State University, Long Beach. Her primary research areas are Latin American politics, gender and politics, and religion and politics. Her book, Feminist Policymaking in Chile, was published by Penn State Press in 2010. Her latest research, in collaboration with Richard Haesly, examines the interplay of religion and electoral politics in the United States, focusing particularly on immigration, LGBT equality, and health care reform.