George Barna is well-known for books that describe the state of the Church and American culture, based on extensive survey research. Over the years he has written more than 50 books, but his new book – The Day Christians Changed America: How Christian Conservatives Put Trump in the White House and Redirected America’s Future – is his first book about politics.
Why now, and why this one?
“My first few jobs were in government and political campaigns, and once it gets in your system you never lose your passion for it,” the California-based pollster explained. “I have been engaged in political campaigns and public policy efforts for more than 40 years, including working on several presidential campaigns as well as races at other levels. In four decades I have never experienced anything quite like the 2016 race. It was a wild ride that ended with a miracle outcome.
“The thing that impressed me the most,” Barna continued, “was the degree to which faith played a significant role in the campaign and the outcome. It was a story that has not been told, and because of my research, consulting, and relationships related to the race, I had a unique vantage point. The faith narrative deserves to be told. You cannot understand the outcome unless you grasp the many ways that faith was intertwined in every facet of the election.”
The title of the book has already turned a few heads – and raised some questions. “November 8, 2016 was a day that changed the course of the nation,” the bestselling author noted. “If Hillary Clinton had been elected, as was expected and seemed likely, the United States would have continued down the path of big government, entitlements, socialism, and identity politics. Her defeat was largely the result of Christian voters deciding that abortion, intrusive government, and irresponsible and unresponsive government are not in the best interests of the nation. But it was also a determination to secure the religious rights and freedoms that have made America the country that it is. So, yes, November 8 was indeed a day that Christians put their foot down and decided the immediate future of the country.”
As Executive Director of the American Culture and Faith Institute, Barna conducted more than two dozen national surveys (and another dozen statewide polls in swing states) during the course of the 2016 campaign, and worked in partnership with more than 70 Christian ministries in the election process. That provided the New York-born research specialist with a wealth of experiences and research-based insights into what really happened behind the curtain during the campaign.
In addition to identifying and tracking a new – and crucially important – faith group (Spiritually Active, Governance Engaged Conservative Christians, called SAGE Cons), he pointed out the significant impact of another largely-ignored faith segment as well: the Notionals. The combined impact of SAGE Cons and Notionals – neither of whom was expected to support Donald Trump – put the Republican victor over the top.
The book describes many ways that faith defined the election. There are sections about the faith of the candidates; the faith of the electorate; the role of churches and Christian non-profit organizations; crucial political events among people of faith; the influence of Christian media on voting; and how the central issues were affected by faith.
Also included in the volume are results of some of the surveys conducted by ACFI among SAGE Cons and among theologically conservative Protestant pastors. The outcomes described are often startling. For instance, there is no escaping the fact that Donald Trump was not the first choice of conservative Christians; he was the first choice of just 9% of them early in the campaign. In the end, however, SAGE Cons voted for him en masse: 91% of them cast a ballot, and 93% of them voted for the brash New Yorker!
The narrative describes a turning point event with Christian leaders; the frustration of millions of devoted Christians with the absence of churches from the political process; the importance of the GOP policy platform in raising the confidence of biblically-inclined voters; the continual revelation of scandals that plagued both candidates; the loss of credibility by the mainstream media, resulting in a new patchwork of media sources relied upon by conservatives; and the importance of and route to unity among Christian voters and ministries.
Barna ended the book with some thoughts about lessons to be learned from the 2016 experience.
“There was such a national sigh of relief when 2016 election ended, but many do not realize that the 2020 campaign has already begun. Politics has changed dramatically over the past few decades. Changes in technology and funding have made federal elections an endless process. It is imperative that conservatives incorporate the lessons of 2016 into the 2018 mid-term efforts and the approaching 2020 campaign. The failure to build on what we discovered and what we began to create will result in losing whatever ground was gained.”
The Day Christians Changed America is now available online at www.christianvoterimpact.com, at www.culturefaith.com, and at www.amazon.com. A digital version of the book is also accessible through amazon.com.
For more information about the book, to arrange for bulk purchases of the book, or to inquire about George Barna’s availability for public speaking or media interviews, please contact Terry Gorka of ACFI (805)-340-0608, firstname.lastname@example.org.