Trump emboldening white evangelicals to policy action, public opinion analyst says

Public opinion analyst Natalie Jackson said Friday that many white evangelical protestants are feeling empowered by President TrumpDonald John TrumpConway defends herself against Hatch Act allegations amid threat of subpoena How to defuse Gulf tensions and avoid war with Iran Trump says 'stubborn child' Fed 'blew it' by not cutting rates MORE to advocate their beliefs in public policy.

Jackson, the research director at the nonprofit Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI), weighed in on a new Hill-HarrisX survey focused on Americans' support for legislation encouraging schools to teach classes on the Bible.

“White evangelical protestants are really only about 1 in 5, even in the highest areas – Kentucky or some of these states that are passing these laws or considering them," Jackson said on Hill.TV.

"It’s a small group but it's a very loud group. It's a group that sees their time has come because President Trump speaks out and favors this stuff," she added.

Jackson suggested that the policies being pursued come from “a very specific religious Christian right point of view,” adding that other religious organizations and Christian denominations oppose this type of legislation.

The legislation being considered in some states does not include classes for any of the other major religions or for atheism.

Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin (R) signed a bill in 2017 that would allow Bible courses to be taught as an elective in public schools. Earlier this year, Florida lawmakers also pushed a bill that would require public high schools to have a class on the Bible.

In 1963, the Supreme Court case School District of Abington Township v. Schempp ruled that mandatory Bible-reading in schools as unconstitutional, but allowed teaching about the Bible.

The Hill-HarrisX poll released Friday found that only 12 percent of Americans said that states should require schools to offer new history classes about the Bible only. 

A third of respondents, 33 percent, said states should require schools to offer classes on all major religions, with about half of those saying the class topics should include atheism. 

Another 19 percent in the poll said states should not allow schools to offer classes on religious books, while 18 percent said schools should be left to determine their history classes.

—Alec D'Angelo