WHY A VOTE FOR TRUMP ISN'T SOMETHING TO BRAG ABOUT
I am a born again Christian. I love Jesus. I think he was an incredible man, the Son of God. I believe he spoke truth because I have read what he said a few times over and am compelled by a force that’s bigger than me to believe what he said and to live as close to the way he lived as possible. And I’m proud of that.
There are people who disagree with me - who think he's a hoax or just some guy in history, that the Bible is archaic, that I'm brainwashed. That's fair. The Bible says believing in him requires faith, a belief in something we CANNOT see, so that means there's going to be a lot of people who disagree with me on account of a lack of evidence. I’m fine with that.
This message isn’t for the atheists, agnostics, or anti-Christians. This message is for my “fellow Christians” – specifically those who believe confidently that voting for Trump was the right thing - the Christian thing - to do. That being Christian means voting Republican or Conservative.
I am not saying that you can’t vote for Trump or that you can’t be Republican. I am adamantly against that kind of prescriptive politics, a point I think some Christian leaders should take to heart as well. What I am saying – unapologetically and with vigor and force – is that a vote for Trump, a vote for Republicans or for Conservatives, is not a vote for Jesus.
It does not state in the Bible that Jesus was a Republican or a Conservative (or a Democrat). That’s an undebatable fact. So, if you voted for Trump, let’s be perfectly clear: you just voted for Trump. Please, don’t bring Jesus into it.
If you voted for Trump in this election and you’re feeling particularly enthusiastic, it’s also incredibly important for you to understand the impact of your enthusiasm – not through your eyes or the eyes of people like you, but through the eyes of others (people we should be genuinely care about if we’re modelling Christ). By voting for Trump in this election and sharing that with joy and enthusiasm, you have told the people around you who are people of color, who are disabled, who are women, and who are Muslim (just to name a few) that your fears about your safety - physical and financial - are your priority. And while you may be entirely comfortable with that, that’s not a position you can easily argue Jesus would stand for.
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In the Bible, Jesus specifically commands us not to fear and not to worry about ANYTHING – that includes the economy, terrorism, culture shifts, religious persecution, and anything else that you can think of.
But it’s not just about issues. In the Bible, Jesus intentionally spent time with people who were neglected and oppressed. He prioritized people who were disabled, women, criminals, and the poor – people who had no voice and no rights, people who were social outsiders. He cared about them and helped them, and he did it even though he was highly criticized for it. Jesus was deeply concerned about them as individuals, about how they felt in a broken world. Jesus healed people who did not believe in him because he knew that providing for their physical needs would practically demonstrate how he could provide for them spiritually. He asks us to do the same.
Trump spoke very openly and in very derogatory ways about Muslims, Blacks, Latinos, and women during his campaign. He mocked a man who was disabled. So voting for Trump sent a very painful message to many people in those communities, about how little their hurt, identity, and oppression means to you. It sent a very confusing message about what Christians really stand for.
It does not matter if you saw Trump’s words in the same way, or if you didn’t feel it was “that bad”, or if you felt that something said or done by another candidate was worse by comparison, or if your belief in a particular aspect of Republican ideals “trumped” your ability to vote against or speak out against Trump. That does not matter now that the votes are in. People are deeply hurt – not on a political level but on a very personal level – to see Trump as the leader of the country. This is why they’re protesting.
The large majority of Trump voters were white. This bears deep consideration. Some of Trump’s white voters have financial concerns, real and legitimate, but they are not facing the additional injustices that have historically impacted and continue to impact people of color, women and the disabled. This is why women of color, for example, posted some of the lowest numbers when it came to support for Trump. They could not look past who Trump is. And rightly so. The response to Trump is not a response against policy. It is personal. Which makes Christianity and the response of Christians so critical.
First of all, celebrating your vote may be your right. It may be American or Republican pride, but it is not Christian, especially in this election. As Christians, we should be deeply concerned about the feelings and experiences of those who feel that a man who openly speaks out against them as people is now their president. So stop celebrating. And leave Jesus out of it.
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There are issues that are important to you that you are looking to the Supreme Court and the House and the Senators to uphold – maybe that’s why you voted the way you did. Maybe it’s why you’re so excited for January. Perhaps you see this as a chance to right what you personally perceive as wrongs from the last eight years. Perhaps you resent health care being available to all people as a matter of principle, perhaps you think guns and assault weapons should be available to all people on that same basis, perhaps you are concerned about the impact of an influx of immigrants who come from places that frighten you – again as a personal principle. Those are opinions that in a democracy you are entitled to have. But please do not tie them to Jesus and Christianity. I look at those issues very differently. I resent Christ being used as a justification for your personal beliefs and your need to protect your privilege.
The government and the law, up until recently, have reinforced your personal values, the Republican interpretation of morality. The law has been on your side. Which served as a way of telling you that you’ve been right all along – about how the government should approach abortion, immigrants, healthcare, and women, about racial politics. You’ve taken verses and rolled them around to validate the laws that were in place. Which means that you've never really had to consider how it might be to your advantage to have the law force other people to behave the way you choose to live based on your interpretation of the Bible. You have never had to wonder if that’s actually democracy or some other kind of governing entirely.
You have enjoyed the benefits of a government that’s made decisions based on certain parts of the Bible – the parts that are most convenient for you – which means that you have probably spent very little time wondering whether the job of a democratic government is, in fact, to execute the will and values of the the majority, to respond to changes in culture, environment, and social justice, even as you remain committed to your interpretations of morality. Maybe you've never had to ask yourself what Jesus’ life tells us about how we might approach social issues, cultural differences, and politics. But you do.
You need to think and pray not only about what You believe the Bible says as an individual, but how you are meant to live that out. And just as a warning, there is no easy answer to that, no chance that we are all in agreement. If Obama is Christian, for example, as he claims to be - was he a good Christian as president? There are people on both sides of that argument – Christians who prioritize certain decisions and behaviors over others based on their interpretation of Christ’s life.
One thing is true, Obama did not claim he was making decisions based for or against his Christian values – not in the campaign cycle and not on the job – and perhaps that’s exactly what the job entails. Perhaps the leader of any country should make decisions in consultation with a range of thinkers so that the laws reflect the desires of all people – not just the ones who happen to have the most power.
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The Bible says believing in Jesus is the only criteria for heaven. It says that the two greatest commands are to love God with everything you have and to love your neighbor. These are consistent messages in the Old Testament and New Testament. They are messages Jesus himself repeated. So pray and think and vote in a democracy. Every four years, it’s critically important as citizens of the earth – and in this case as citizens of the United States – to execute that right. But it is how we live every day with our fellow humans that will define us as Christians.
So post-election and over the next few years, pay attention to politics. Think about your world view and study the Bible carefully, regularly, especially the life of Jesus. But remember that over the next four years, it is far more important and meaningful for you to live like Jesus – to put the needs of others ahead of your own, regardless of your differences. So think about others when you make posts and when you respond to posts on social media. Care about those who do not feel represented, who are deeply hurt by this vote. Care about people and provide for them physically, spiritually, and emotionally, in every way possible, so they have a taste of what Christ is all about. That is the Christian thing to do. That’s what we stand for.