Churchgoing Conservative Voters May Not Line Up With Donald Trump Donald Trump's popularity with self-described evangelical Christians fades among those who attend church regularly. "The true evangelical," says an Iowa pastor, is in "a quandary, a dilemma."

Many Evangelicals Are In 'An Awkward Place' With Trump Atop GOP

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MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:

Conservative Christians make up a key voting base for Republicans. But with Donald Trump set to be the party's presidential nominee, some evangelicals say they are still unsure about voting for him as a matter of conscience. NPR's Sarah McCammon spent the weekend visiting churches in Iowa.

SARAH MCCAMMON, BYLINE: At Fort Des Moines Church of Christ, a sign on the front lawn reads abortion is America's Holocaust. Pastor Mike Demastus was inside leading a rehearsal for Sunday's service.

UNIDENTIFIED PEOPLE: (Singing) This is the air I breathe.

MCCAMMON: Sitting in the front row of the small church, Demastus describes Donald Trump as morally loathsome. Demastus backed Texas Senator Ted Cruz who won the Iowa caucuses with evangelical support. But in the end, that wasn't enough.

MIKE DEMASTUS: We came up with the worst possible candidate out of all of the choices that we had.

MCCAMMON: Demastus says he'll write in Cruz in November. He's disturbed by a statement Trump made months ago in Iowa when a pollster asked if he's ever sought God's forgiveness and Trump said no.

DEMASTUS: He's a reprehensible man. He's - I would classify him as a wicked man.

MCCAMMON: Demastus is not alone. While it's true that the real estate developer has picked up substantial support among white voters who describe themselves as evangelical, polling suggests Trump is less popular among those who attend church regularly.

DEMASTUS: The true evangelical, not defined by the media, but the true evangelical is going to be put into a quandary, a dilemma.

UNIDENTIFIED PEOPLE: (Singing) In Christ alone, my hope is found...

MCCAMMON: At Cornerstone Church in Ames, Iowa, Pastor Jeff Dodge says he's facing a similar internal struggle. He usually votes Republican, but he has big concerns about Trump's character and temperament.

JEFF DODGE: The brashness, the arrogance.

MCCAMMON: Dodge says he hasn't totally ruled out voting for the Democrat, but he's more likely to look to a third party or skip the top of the ticket. Several Republican-leaning members of this large, Southern Baptist church say they're also struggling with Trump as the nominee.

CARLEY HOBEN: I think I'm still a little bit in shock. I was very much on the Never Trump bandwagon.

MCCAMMON: Carley Hoben, a stay-at-home mom and child care provider, says if the election were today, she'd vote Libertarian. But Hoben adds she's somewhat hopeful because her faith teaches that even sinners can be redeemed.

HOBEN: I don't want to view Trump as though he can't change and as though he can't be a suitable leader. But at this point, I also can't deny the fact that he doesn't align at all with my beliefs.

MCCAMMON: Another church member Kara Warme is a part-time consultant with two daughters. She usually votes Republican but says Trump is negative and divisive.

KARA WARME: I want change politically in the country, but I don't like some of the emotions that I feel Trump is bringing out in people. So I'm just nervous for how that's going to go.

MCCAMMON: At this point, Warme says, she'd probably vote for Trump over his Democratic rival very reluctantly. Bob Vander Plaats is an influential evangelical in Iowa. He says conservative Christians will be watching to see how Trump talks about key issues like abortion.

BOB PLAATS: There's issue differences with Donald Trump. There's obviously personal attacks that need to be probably mended and healed. So I would say, if I'm a Facebook post, it's complicated right now.

MCCAMMON: Vander Plaats says many evangelicals want the next president to nominate Supreme Court justices who align with their views on abortion. Trump has promised to release the names of his potential nominees, which could convince some evangelicals. That could be especially important in battleground states like Iowa, Ohio and Virginia, where evangelicals make up a big share of the population. Sarah McCammon, NPR News, Des Moines.

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