Nearly half of white evangelicals say Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh should be confirmed even if sexual assault allegations against him are true, according to a new Marist poll.
The poll, sponsored in partnership with NPR and PBS NewsHour, asked nearly 1,000 adults between Sept. 22 and Sept. 24 about their support for Kavanaugh if allegations by Christine Blasey Ford that he assaulted her at a high school party in the 1980s are true.
Nearly 60 percent of all respondents said Kavanaugh should not be confirmed if the allegations are true. Among white evangelical Christians, just 36 percent said the allegations, if true, should disqualify him from becoming a Supreme Court justice.
Forty-eight percent of white evangelicals said Kavanaugh should be confirmed even if he is guilty as charged, while 16 percent said they are not sure.
White evangelicals (14 percent) were half as likely as the general public (32 percent) to believe the woman’s account of what happened at the party. Forty-five percent of white evangelicals chose to believe Kavanaugh, compared to 26 percent of all respondents.
As a whole society is nearly evenly divided among 31 percent who view him favorably, 37 percent who view him unfavorably and 32 percent who have not made up their mind. Among white evangelicals, 56 percent said they have a favorable view of Kavanagh and 14 percent ranked him as unfavorable.
Nearly six in 10 white evangelicals (58 percent) said they support President Trump’s Supreme Court pick, compared to 9 percent who oppose his nomination.
One in 10 (9 percent) of white evangelicals indicated they have a positive view of Ford and 32 percent regard her unfavorably. The general public is more evenly divided, with 20 percent rating her favorably and 24 percent unfavorably.
Seventy-two percent of white evangelicals said they approve of the job Trump is doing as president, and 58 percent said they are likely to vote in November for a candidate who supports Kavanaugh’s nomination. Nine percent said they would support a candidate opposed to Kavanaugh.
The numbers support claims over the summer that evangelical churches are among the least safe places for victims to report physical or sexual abuse.#m
The Southern Baptist Convention in June was overshadowed by a #ChurchToo spinoff to the #MeToo movement protesting mistreatment of women by powerful men, after a key leader, Paige Patterson, was fired for allegedly mishandling reported rapes at two SBC seminaries.
In his return to the pulpit, according to media accounts of a revival that he recently led in Alabama, Patterson chose to preach on the story of Potiphar’s wife, the femme fatale who in the book of Genesis falsely accuses the Old Testament patriarch Joseph of attempted rape, thereby sending him to prison.
“I am all in favor of the MeToo movement when there is a guilty party,” Patterson says in an audio clip obtained and posted online by a blogger. “But by the same token, I have nothing good to say about a woman who falsely accuses a man. She runs the risk of ruining a life. She runs the risk of causing heartache and sorrow unknown, when the person is in fact innocent.”
Evangelical leaders including James Dobson, Franklin Graham and Jerry Falwell Jr. all say they support Kavanaugh’s confirmation despite allegations of sexual misconduct by multiple women. Falwell’s Liberty University bused 300 students to Thursday’s Senate confirmation hearing to counter a protest against Kavanaugh at Yale.
A 1991 survey by CBS News and the New York Times asked Americans whether Anita Hill’s allegations of sexual harassment against now-Supreme Court Associate Justice Clarence Thomas should derail his confirmation.
Two thirds (67 percent) said if Hill’s allegations against Thomas were true, he should not be confirmed, while 21 percent said it shouldn’t matter. By comparison, 29 percent in the Marist poll believe Kavanaugh should be confirmed even if Christine Blasey Ford’s allegations are true, and 59 percent said he should not.