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Christian nationalism, perceived anti‐Christian discrimination, and prioritising “religious freedom” in the 2020 presidential election

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Nations and Nationalism

Published online on


["Nations and Nationalism, Volume 28, Issue 2, Page 714-725, April 2022. ", "\nAbstract\nFor decades now and particularly during the 2020 presidential campaign, American conservatives have stressed the need to protect “religious freedom.” Building on research documenting a connection between Trump‐support, a desire to privilege conservative Christianity, and perceptions that conservative Christianity is persecuted due to its anti‐LGT (lesbian, gay, or transgender) views, we theorise such factors were the ideological driving force behind prioritising “religious freedom” in the 2020 presidential election. Drawing on national survey data from just after the November election, we find Christian nationalism and perceptions of anti‐Christian discrimination are strong predictors that (1) Americans feel “religious freedom” was an important factor influencing their vote and (2) that they ranked it the single greatest factor influencing their vote. In contrast, the perception that LGT persons are not discriminated against also predicts viewing religious freedom as important, as does a perception of anti‐Semitism, but never perceptions of anti‐atheist or anti‐Muslim discrimination. Findings suggest conservative Christian supremacism, fear of (Judeo‐)Christian persecution and belief that LGT persons are privileged are ideological antecedents of votes for “religious freedom.”\n"]