George Barna Poll, Did Christians Tilt The Presidential Election: In today’s episode, we talk with George Barna on his new book called, “The Day Christains Changed America.” We also talk about what Trump has done in the last 10 months and how he has pleasantly surprised us with a list of amazing accomplishments. You won’t want to miss this interview with George Barna, a pollster for four decades with experience at all levels of political battle, conducted more than 50,000 interviews during the course of the campaign season. An award-winning and bestselling author of more than 50 books, he provides a bird’s-eye view of how the electorate – and especially our communities of faith – engaged with the candidates in the most contentious election in modern history.
Air Date: 10/03/2017
Guests: George Barna, David Barton, and Rick Green.
- Culture Faith Website
- The Courageous Leaders Collection Use promo code WBL17 to receive 10% off your entire order!
- Heroes of History Use promo code WBL17 to receive 10% off your entire order!
Download: Click Here
Transcription note: As a courtesy for our listeners’ enjoyment, we are providing a transcription of this podcast. However, as this is transcribed from a live talk show, words and sentence structure were not altered to fit grammatical, written norms in order to preserve the integrity of the actual dialogue between the speakers. Additionally, names may be misspelled or we might use an asterisk to indicate a missing word because of the difficulty in understanding the speaker at times. We apologize in advance.
Faith And The Culture
You found your way to the intersection of faith and the culture, this is WallBuilders Live! You can find out more about us at our websites WallBuildersLive.com and WallBuilders.com.
We’re talking about today’s hottest topics on policy, faith, and the culture, all of it from a Biblical, historical, and constitutional perspective. We’re here with David Barton, America’s premier historian. And my name is Rick Green, I’m a former Texas state legislator.
Later in the program, we’re going to have George Barna with us talking about more of his recent research and a new book he’s got out called, “The Day Christians Changed America.”
David, today’s topic, I think, is going to shock a lot of people, especially when it comes to the president of the United States. People have varying perspectives, you hear certain things and you immediately of have that image of that person sometimes stick with you for the rest of your life.
I think Donald Trump’s image in the American people’s minds has changed a lot over the last year. But we’re going to find out some interesting things about him today and about Christian’s role in the presidential election.
What Makes George Barna An Exceptional Pollster
Yeah, we are going to find some interesting things. I think it will be surprising and Rick, as you said, what President Trump has done so far that has been completely in line with Biblical values, and positions, and public policy, and defending Biblical values and positions in the public arena, he hasn’t been perfect but I do not recall a recent president including George W. Bush who has done more to move forward Biblical and Christian values.
People just raised an eyebrow hearing that, just hold on, I’m going to give you a list of headlines from the last several months that you may have forgotten about or may not have heard about.
By the time you hear this tick list- I’m just going to go through them quick. I think you’ll be shocked at what has been done in the last few months that maybe you haven’t heard about, maybe you have, but it’s amazing.
The person who’s actually documented why this happened, why we even have the opportunity discussed good news like this, is George Barna. George is a good friend of the program and he’s a great personal friend outside of that. He and I did a book together called, “U-turn,” really fun. He’s the most quoted pollster in American history, ever, George Barna holds that record hands down.
I once asked him how many people he had personally interviewed for the surveys and he said over a million people that he had talked to. So, I don’t know of anyone who has individually, one on one, talked to that many people ever.
He has the best feel for what goes on in America of anyone that I know. Every year we try to bring him in for our legislators conference because he can tell legislators how people are thinking, what’s going on in their minds.
These aren’t guys that are looking for polling to be able to get in front of a trend, these are guys that are Biblical value people who come to the legislators conference. We have a network of, I don’t know, 7-800 state legislators. Every year we get maybe 150 to come to the conference.
These are guys that want to make a difference in the culture. George is able to say, “Here’s what they’re thinking about on this, and this, and this.” And that helps in crafting policy. So, he’s really good.
George, by the way, got his start in politics. We think of him now more as a value pollster. He probably, of any national pollster in the nation, spends more time on Christian values, Christian thinking, and Biblical values, but he hasn’t always been there. I mean, he’s an excellent pollster on any issue. He did political polling, when I was running the super PAC for one of the candidates last year he was the pollster we had on the political polling as well. Nobody does a better job of digging into it.
George and I did that book, and it was fun because we looked at polling today compared to polling 50 years ago to say, “What are the trends that are happening? Where is America today compared to then in our thinking, in our values, and our beliefs? There’s a lot of fun too in the book, great book.
But what George has got now is a book looking specifically at the 2016 election, what caused Donald Trump to win, why he won, and it turns out it was really on the back of evangelical Christians. The polling is really pretty phenomenal on this and it’s going to be a good look to see what George tells us.
George Barna our special guest, stay with us, we’ll be right back on WallBuilders Live!
Moment From American History
This is Tim Barton with another moment from American History. The year after the American War for Independence ended we begin addressing the issue of Muslim terrorists in North Africa, who were attacking American ships, killing, and enslaving American seamen.
Congress dispatched John Adams and Thomas Jefferson to negotiate peace. When they asked the Muslim ambassador the reason for the unprovoked attacks he told them that it was written in their Qur’an, that it was their right and duty to make war upon them whenever they could be found.
Sixteen years of negotiations failed and in 1801 America sent its military to crush the terrorists. When that war ended in 1805 the first American edition of the Qur’an was published, urging Americans to read the Qur’an to see for themselves that its teachings were incompatible with the safety and peace of non-Muslims. To see the first American Qur’an and to get more information about America’s first war on Islamic terror, go to WallBuilders.com.
Who Are The SAGE Cons And Why Are They Important
Welcome back! Thanks for staying with us here on WallBuilders Live! Our good friend George Barna is back with us. Always good to have you, George.
Good to be back with you.
Yet another book, I don’t know how you turn these things out as quickly as you do. This time you’ve got 50 of these things, always great information. I haven’t read all of them, but the ones I have read I have greatly enjoyed. Now you’ve got one for the first time really delving into politics itself and what happened in the election. What made you decide to go that route?
I’ve written all these books and I’ve never written one on politics. But as I listen to the analysts and the commentators talk about the election, they kept trying to make sense of it but they never talked about the role that faith played.
Having worked as a pollster for one of the candidates, and the strategist for another, and doing surveys every day of the year for two years during the cycle, and being in a lot of the events, and knowing a lot of the people, I realized that you cannot understand this election unless you understand the role of faith.
This book, “The Day Christians Changed America,” is all about the many different roles that faith played in the ultimate outcome of the election.
It’s called, “The Day Christians Changed America, How Conservative Christians Put Trump in the White House and Redirected America’s Future.” Real quick before we dive into some of the specifics, let’s get specific about what you mean by “Christian voters.” You talked about SAGE Cons in the book, define that for us.
SAGE Cons, that’s an acronym for Spiritually Active Government Engaged Conservative Christians, it’s a mouthful so we just make it SAGE Cons, it’s a lot easier. Essentially, these are people who are deeply devoted to their faith in Christ, read the Bible, and take it at face value. Because of that, they believe that the Bible teaches them that they have to try to have positive Godly influence on every dimension of society that they can, including politics and government, so they don’t simply vote.
They do vote, but they try to get involved in many other ways as possible. SAGE Cons are well-informed about what goes on in politics and government, more than the average American. They volunteer, they may donate, they probably hand out voter guides, they talk to friends about the issues of the candidates, this is meaningful to them.
That’s a group that’s about 10 percent of the voting population in America. You cannot win an election just by winning the SAGE Cons, but if you’re a conservative candidate you really can’t win an election unless you win over a large share of them.
That was a huge challenge initially for Donald Trump. That group supported other candidates in the primary, right?
Yeah, when Donald Trump announced about two months afterward that only nine percent of SAGE Cons were supporting him, so that means 91 percent had chosen somebody else, they were rejecting him.
By the time election day rolls around it went from 91 percent rejecting him to 93 percent voting for him. That’s an outrageously uniform number. I’ve been managing campaigns and doing polling for campaigns for 40 years now and I’ve never seen a number like that.
Why SAGE Cons Voted For President Trump
What do you attribute that to? I know you obviously go into detail on that in the book so you won’t have time to give us everything. But in a short message, how did that happen? That’s a massive shift.
It was massive. There were several different things that happened. Number one was that when they compared the candidates, particularly Mr. Trump and Mrs. Clinton on the issues that mattered most to them, Mr. Trump won out on that.
The issues that mattered were abortion and the Supreme Court nominations. Mr. Trump told us who he was going to nominate, they were all pro-life and pro-family individuals. On abortion, he gave perhaps the strongest support for defeating partial-birth abortion during that very public third debate.
Mrs. Clinton was on the other side of the fence. She says, “Abortion? Anybody, anytime, any place, for any reason.” And that didn’t fly well. We knew that she would stack the court with pro-abortion and pro-gay rights kind of justices. She told us basically that she would be the third term of the Obama administration which meant that she was going to continue to move us into a socialist path. And we knew that Donald Trump had no interest in doing that.
Now, you mentioned the big turnaround. How important was it- Because it seemed like, just attitude wise, there was so much personal dislike for different things about Donald Trump, or perceptions, or whatever it might have been. How important was it for evangelical leaders, pastors, or ministry leaders, to help evangelicals get over that hump and actually look at the difference in administrations, the appointments, and all of those things and not just the personalities?
There were a number of things that happened, Rick. One of those was the fact that there was a big meeting in New York City in June of 2016 where over a thousand Christian leaders who were on the fence, they couldn’t make up their mind if they were going to vote or who they would vote for. They came together, they spent a couple hours with Mr. Trump, it was a major turning point.
What we found is many of those Christian leaders within four to six weeks after the event were actually encouraging their constituencies to take a strong look at Mr. Trump because of their 501C3 status they couldn’t endorse a candidate, but they did what they could to try to get devoted Christians to say, “Look, he doesn’t think in all the ways that we think, he doesn’t see things the way we see them all the time.” But on a number of key issues and based on a bunch of conversations that they had with him, they were so much more comfortable with him.
Of course, they were influencing him as well. The candidate was changing as the campaign went on because of the Godly influence of all these Christian leaders coming around him. So that was a big deal.
Then there were dozens, and dozens, of major parachurch ministries like WallBuilders, like Family Research Council, like American Family Association, and others who really devoted an enormous amount of time, and energy, resources to try to help Christian voters be clear about what each of the candidate stood for so that they would make an informed decision and actually show up to vote on Election Day.
You’ve Got To Let Your Voice Be Heard
Being clear about the third option not being an option. That not voting or throwing the vote away, that was an important distinction. Because I think you still had some that felt like, “I’ve got to get a principled stand and not vote at all.” There was a massive amount of education just on that front, that by doing that you’re actually helping the worst of the two candidates win and you’ve got to let your voice be heard. Did you notice that being a major factor?
Absolutely. Early on when it was clear that Mr. Trump was going to get the nomination, almost one out of five Christians said that they planned to sit out the election. That would have been tantamount to handing the election to Hillary Clinton. That was an important thing.
Come election day, 91% of SAGE Cons turned out to vote. To put that in context, only 58 percent of the rest of the country actually turned out to vote. So it was an enormous turnout by that group of people. They were unified in their thinking and their voting. And you can see the power of unity in the outcome.
Incredibly powerful. George thank you for the research first of all, and for sharing it through the book. “The Day That Christians Changed America, How Conservative Christians Put Trump in the White House and Redirected America’s Future.” Best place to get the book, George?
They can go to Amazon, they can go to our website at CultureFaith.com, they can go to a website ChristianVoterImpact.com. All those places will have it. It’s available at Amazon also as a digital book if you want the Ebook.
We Need To Be Unified And Strategic To Win Future Elections
Now we obviously encourage people to get the book, dive into this, and learn it. Before I let you go, what’s one of the take-home messages? How do we look forward and what can we learn from this election to apply it to the future? How would you sum that up especially for what we’re facing in the next couple of cycles both in the midterms of 2018, but especially 2020?
Two things, they’ll get a lot more than this in the book, but one is that the power of unity is critical. When we work together we make a huge difference. We do change the world. Secondly, we’ve got to be diligent. Right now liberals across the country are having meetings, they’re developing strategies plans, they’re raising money, they’re developing new technologies, and they’re building new coalitions because they say that they refuse to let what happened in 2016 happened in 2018 and 2022.
Conservatives have been sitting on the sidelines say, “Wow, isn’t that great that we won in ‘16?” When you’re fighting a war, the war goes on if you win a battle. You can’t sit back and relax. We’ve got to remain diligent.
So true. Always good stuff. George Barna, God bless you brother, appreciate you being on again. One more time, for your direct website it’s CultureFaith.com.
CultureFaith.com. We’ve got all our research there, you can get the book, plenty of stuff there to keep you busy.
And get on the email list folks. Visit that website today, we have a link today at WallBuildersLive.com, stay with us, we’ll be right back with David and Tim Barton.
Moment From American History
This is David Barton with another moment from America’s history. At the time of the American Revolution, numerous other nations also had revolutions. Yet, 200 years later America is the only one of those nations still under its original form of government. Is this just good luck? Not according to Founding Father Benjamin Rush.
He declared, “I do not believe that the Constitution was the offspring of inspiration, but I am perfectly satisfied that it is as much the work of a Divine Providence as any of the miracles recorded in the Old and New Testament.”
George Washington agreed, “In fact, he declared, “I should be pained to believe that the United States have forgotten that divine interposition which was so often manifested during our revolution or that they failed to consider the omnipotence of that God who is alone able to protect them.”
Our Founders acknowledge that our national success had come from God. For more information on God’s hand in American history contact WallBuilders at 1-800-8 REBUILD.
The Choice Was Really Simple Once It Became Binary
Welcome back! Thanks for staying with us here on WallBuilders Live! Thanks to George Barna for joining us once again on the program. We’re back with David Barton now. David, I’ve got to admit, I was in many of the categories that George was talking about.
I was very much not for Donald Trump, certainly in the primaries, and even after he won for a little while. You had to really work on me and a lot of other people had to work on me because I had to change that image in my mind and not just think about things I didn’t like about the guy personally or things he had done and start thinking about what his administration would do.
Frankly, I am so glad I supported him in the end and so thankful he’s president because just like you said at the beginning of the program, a lot of good things have happened over the last 10 months.
As George said, you go from 20 percent supporting him to 93 percent, or 90, whatever percent is, 93 percent I think he said. That’s a massive- That’s a cataclysmic shift. A lot of it was because it became a binary decision. As you pointed out, this was not where you have a third alternative, if Christians stay home Hillary will win.
If she wins you could be looking at the Supreme Court for the next 30 to 40 years because a lot of these guys are now in their 80s, if she puts a younger Court in there you’re looking at a pro-abortion nation for decades to come, you’re looking now to anti-traditional marriage nation for decades to come, you’re looking at a no protection for Christian conscience for decades to come, it was a binary decision.
Given that, it was pretty easy to choose. Trump certainly was not my first choice, as matter of fact, of the 17 Republican candidates he was right at number 17 on my list. But once it became binary he was number one on my list.
That’s right. That’s a great way to describe it.
And it was real simple.
Standing Up For God’s People In A Way That No One Else Has
But David, would you say though even now, as you look at the things that have happened, that he’s probably done some things that even those other 16 candidates that we would have supported ahead of him probably wouldn’t have gotten done?
I look at it now, and I think Tim got it right- Tim couldn’t be with us today. But Tim got it right when he said, “The choice we have in this election, a binary choice, don’t think of it as between Trump and Hillary. Think of it as between Samson and Jezebel.”
I thought, “That’s right, because Samson is not the guy with the moral background and the moral life. What he’s done with the Philistines, and with the Delilah, and with the other lady before that, and with the other stuff the harlots, and the Philistines. Yeah, I can see that.”
But you know what, there’s nobody in the Bible that fought harder for God’s people than Sampson. And so Samson ends up being in Hebrews Chapter 11 as one of the heroes of our faith. Not because of his personal behavior but because he stood up and fought for God’s people in a way that nobody else had.
I mentioned the first segment that I think Trump has done more for Christians than George W. Bush did, and he did a lot. There’s no question that he did a lot. But the list of what I’ve compiled recently with Trump is really an amazing list.
The other thing that struck me is, look at where such a small percentage of Christians made such a big difference. He was talking about SAGE Cons, Socially Active Government Engaged Conservatives. That was only 10 percent of the total vote. But whereas 58 percent of the nation voted, 91 percent of SAGE Cons voted.
If that 10 percent hadn’t performed at that level then Hillary is president today. It’s not just the Christians and Evangelicals, it’s that little 10% that overperformed is self and made all the difference in that. This kind of goes back to where you don’t have to have the whole nation to make that difference, if you’ve got everybody kind of middle, even-steven, kind of a split and you have 10 percent who goes over the top for one side or the other, it’ll make all the difference and it did in this election.
Then that produced incredible results in the long run.
Oh yeah. After the break let’s just come back and go through some of those Trump results because I think people will be surprised if they don’t remember all the things that have happened in the last 10 months or so.
At the beginning of the program, you said you think that people might be shocked, I’m going to go further and say, “I know there are going to be shocked because I’m shocked.” I don’t know how many times I’ve had to pinch myself this year. I can’t believe this has been happening, some really good things. Stay with us folks, we’ll be right back on WallBuilders Live.
H, friends! This is Tim Barton of WallBuilders.This is a time when most Americans don’t know much about American history or even heroes of the faith. I know, oftentimes as parents, we’re trying to find good content for our kids to read.
If you remember back in the Bible, the Book of Hebrews it has the Faith Hall of Fame, where they outlined the leaders of faith that had gone before them. Well, this is something that as Americans we really want to go back and outline some of these heroes not just of American history, but heroes of Christianity and our faith as well.
I wanted to let you know about some biographical sketches we have available on our website. One is called, “The Courageous Leaders Collection” and this collection includes people like Abigail Adams, Abraham Lincoln, Francis Scott Key, George Washington Carver, Susanna Wesley, even the Wright brothers.
There’s a second collection called, “Heroes of History” in this collection you read about people like Benjamin Franklin, Christopher Columbus, Daniel Boone, George Washington, Harriet Tubman, the list goes on and on.
This is a great collection for your young person to have and read. And it’s a providential view of American and Christian history. This is available at WallBuilders.com.
A List Of Positive Things Happening Since Trump Has Been Elected
Welcome back thanks for staying with us here on WallBuilders Live. David, we’ve got one segment left and you’ve got a lot of stuff to share about with all the good things that have happened, tell us what happened so far.
I’ll break it down in categories that are interesting to me. For example, the genocide going with Christians in the Middle East because of ISIS and terrorists there. So, Defense Secretary Mattis said, “We’re having an annihilation tactic. We’re going to wipe these guys out so that none of them live to return home to North Africa, Europe, or America, or Asia, or Africa, or anywhere else, to ever do this again.”
That’s good news, that’s offense. On the day he took office he launched 31 separate attacks against ISIS. That’s good news we’re on the offense. When one terrorist stepped out of a cave and gunned down an American Green Beret we dropped the largest ever non-nuclear bomb, we sent a message, “Don’t mess with us.” That’s pretty much slowed down.
After Syria lost a chemical weapons attack we hit them with 59 missiles directed at a Syrian Air base and their airplanes. Things have really settled down over there in the last 10 months.
I was just talking to some guys in the Middle East last night who are intelligence guys, who work in rescreen Christians, we work closely with that group to get Christians out of there. We Christians to Australia, and to Canada, and Brazil, and all these other nations. Man, Christians are starting to move back into their home because things have so changed over there. When you look at the federal judiciary, will start with Neil Gorsuch too has already made an imprint on the Supreme Court.
A home run right there.
There’s some hundred and forty, I think 144, open judicial slots. He had just submitted his seventh group of judges to fill the judiciary and they’re just like Gorsuch. I mean, these are really good guys. Some friends that you and I both have are on the list for federal judges-
Some of our former guests on the program fighting for religious liberty and now they are nominated for the federal bench-
That’s exactly right. Then when you move to life, he signed the first pro-life law in 14 years. And this week he signed the second pro-life law. So already we’ve gotten two pro-life laws passed.
Then when you look in the 2018 federal budget, there were 11 pro-life measures within the federal budget. And then he reinstated the Mexico City policy which says, “We’re not going to fund Planned Parenthood internationally.”
He defended the pro-abortion UNFPA, which is part of the international funding that we give. Trump signed a bill to allow states to defund Planned Parenthood. He eliminated the Office of Global Women’s Issues, which were starting to promote abortion and homosexuality through the State Department and every country in the world.
President Trump signed the Freedom of Religion order, protecting The Little Sisters of the Poor, ending that Supreme Court case. Trump appointed pro-life leaders to key positions, including Attorney General, and HHS secretary, and U.N. ambassador, and all these others who are pro-life at the very top.
Nearly 50 new pro-life laws have been introduced since he was elected president. The European Human Rights Court-he was able to intervene in that and used his voice and platform to get that. And Charlie Gard, you know what happened over in England, he was a loud voice on trying to get other nations to protect life.
Then he issued an executive order protecting religious freedom. He has eased the rules on political activity for religious institutions giving churches their voice back. Trump revoked an Obama air executive order that banned federal contracts from being awarded to nonprofit companies that have religious objections to homosexuality.
He provided relief to victims of the Christian genocide in the Middle East. Obama did not do that at all even though it was called a genocide he wouldn’t help them. Trump has been helping them.
Trump defended Planned Parenthood sex-ed programs, the Department of Health and Human Services. He called for prayer with with Hurricane Harvey, he called prayer for three days for national days a remembrance.
Trump backs Texas church’s suing FEMA to get disaster relief funds. He submitted a brief to the U.S. Supreme Court in favor of the Christian baker. Jack Phillips who did not want to be forced to make a homosexual wedding cake.
At the cabinet level he has appointed 10 evangelicals, of the 19, as cabinet level members. They have a weekly Bible study. As they say, it’s a maturity in Christ, a weekly cabinet level Bible study.
He appointed governor Sam Brownback as an ambassador for religious liberty. Nobody in America I think is stronger, there’s other people who are equally good but nobody stronger than Sam Brownback.
Trump rolled back the Pentagon executive order on transgender stuff. What he’s done with Israel has completely reversed our position on Israel. On Cuba, he reversed that. He’s canceling Obama’s executive- I mean, I’m half way through the list.
No kidding. These are not small things.
George Barna Confirms Christians Played An Important Role
It’s because Christians were active at a higher level than they’ve been in previous elections.
We have to be thankful, we should be so thankful we really did get some mercy instead of judgment. And like David said, he didn’t even get halfway through the list. Make sure you list our Good News Friday program because we bring a lot of those stories to you on this Fridays. Thank for listening today, to WallBuilders Live!