Nearly half of white Protestants who regularly attend church believe President Donald Trump is “anointed by God,” according to a new report.
“Trump the Anointed?” published by Religion in Public found that 49.5 percent of this group agrees that the president is anointed, up from 29.6 percent last year. Researchers Paul Djupe of Denison University and Ryan Burge of Eastern Illinois University compared survey data from May 2019 among white Protestants to a survey they conducted in March of this year.
Belief in overall presidential anointment had increased among white Protestants regardless of how often they attended church services. For example, in 2019, 4.3 percent of white Protestants who seldom attend worship said they believed in presidential anointment; by March 2020, the percentage increased to 11 percent. In 2019, 13.6 percent of white Protestants who attended worship a few times a month believed that Trump specifically was anointed; by March, it jumped to 31.2 percent.
“It is also clear that there remains a gap in believing that all presidents are anointed vs. whether Trump was, though it is now much smaller,” Djupe and Burge reported. “In 2019, the gap was nearly 40 percent across attendance categories, though by 2020 the gap was closer to 15 percent. The religious significance of the presidency is spreading.”
On the question of Trump being anointed, the researchers also found similar results in the responses of white Protestants to the general sample in each level of religious practice.
Among weekly worship attendees, 49.1 percent of the “other” category believed Trump was anointed, which is only slightly smaller than the 49.5 percent of white Protestants. Among those who attend services a few times a month, 31.3 percent of the “other” category believed Trump was anointed, which was slightly higher than the 31.2 percent of white Protestants.
“In the top two attendance categories, the level of belief is effectively identical between the two groups. This is a phenomenon that is sweeping American religion,” Djupe and Burge wrote.