As Tuesday approaches, I wanted to share what I’ve been feeling and seeing. I know many have already voted or know how they will vote, so I do not expect this post to change anyone’s mind, but I feel a need to speak up today.
Many in the news have talked at length about the impact that the white evangelical vote had on Trump’s 2016 victory, and many believe this demographic will be the group that will assure him victory again. So this is the group I am writing to today, as I have done several times in the past—a group that includes so many people I love and respect. A group I long to see live up to its calling to be champions of Jesus’ mission, heart for justice and unconditional love for all. I write today as a hurting insider—deeply conflicted and challenged by what is going on in our country today.
To anyone who finds himself or herself in this white evangelical demographic (as I do), I urge you to consider the weight of this election. It’s bigger than the future of political conservatism or the Republican party. More consequential than Israel foreign policy or overturning Roe v. Wade. More significant than appointing conservative judges or pursuing lower taxes. More significant than immigration reform, school choice or gun laws. And its impact will certainly be felt far beyond the next four years.
I believe the central, foundational, core message of our faith—that all men and women are created in the image of God, yet are deeply broken and in need of saving from their fallen condition—is on the ballot as well.
The world has watched us stay silent and shrug our shoulders as the dignity and value of others—particularly people of color, immigrants and foreigners, the elderly and those with poor health conditions—has been questioned, challenged or ignored in the past four years, and especially in 2020.
People of color across the country have seen the white church stand still and choose not to swing at softball questions like, “Will you condemn white supremacy?” and “Do you believe Black lives matter?” And they are hurting more than we know.
They are grieving and aching, wondering why the white church will not take up the chance to champion their value before the audience of the world when they know deep in their soul that God himself has granted them infinite worth and value as His children.
They have seen some of us align ourselves with a man of undeniably terrible character, who possesses no respect nor adherence to biblical values, while turning our noses up at “love of neighbor” actions like saying “Black Lives Matter” or “Elderly Lives Matter” or “Undocumented Immigrant Lives Matter” or “Poor Lives Matter” or “Foreign Lives Matter”.
As Dr. King said years ago, we are more concerned with order than justice—choosing to prefer the absence of tension over the presence of justice. And we are paying a dear price. We have replaced compassion with callousness toward the conditions of others, and it has filled our faith and witness with a kind of awful rot that continues to infect our country today.
They have seen us turn inward, caring for insiders to the faith and ignoring the cries and pleas of people outside our tribe who say, “See me,” or, “Acknowledge my worth”. They have seen us marry Love for God with Love for Country and accuse those who challenge us of turning their backs on the faith—myself included.
It is obvious to everyone but ourselves that we are in danger of losing our capacity to persuade or speak to the love that Jesus has for all people in our country ever again—that is, if we have not already lost it for good.
We have forgotten the origins of our faith—the world-shaking re-sorting of the balance of power when a first-century Jew, born as a second-class citizen and ethnic minority, started a movement that toppled worldly regimes and upended the established power structure. We have grown accustomed to power and tasted its alluring promises of security and influence. But have we considered what we’ve lost?
Trumpism is toxic and dangerous. It looks down on others with a sneer and a boastful, unashamed lack of regard for “the other”. It lifts up the dignity of a small, powerful few while ignoring or outright devaluing the worth of others who are made in the image of God. It cannot handle criticism or critique—everyone is either an ally or an enemy. And most significantly, it links the character and heart of God to a man and a party who (at this moment) show little evidence of the fruit of the spirit in their treatment of those outside their group. There is virtually no love, no joy, no peace, no patience, no kindness, no goodness, no faithfulness, no gentleness and no self-control consistent in Trump’s actions toward others.
He has hoodwinked us into trading our position as Salt and Light in a broken world for getting a seat at the table of power—if only for a little while.
I write this not to say that the Democratic party and Joe Biden are the true champions of Christian witness—they are broken and fall short as well—but I believe that when history remembers this election… When our children’s children look back on this election, they will wonder and question and write and ask, “Where were the people of God during all this? Where were the followers of Jesus?”
I pray that we find ourselves on the right side of history. I know the Lord is in control and is not anxiously waiting on the edge of HIs seat to learn the outcome of this election. I know America will not last forever, nor will the Republican nor Democratic Parties be here indefinitely—but Christian witness will continue on, as it has for two thousand years.
But I fear these last four years (and potentially the next four) will do our children and their children a great disservice in the global mission of the Church to advance, to champion, to defend the rights and dignity of the poor, the immigrant, the fatherless, the powerless. I believe we have chosen the wide road to destruction rather than the narrow road to righteousness—and though I believe Jesus will still prevail in advancing His mission on earth, I believe it will cost us greatly in the immediate future.
God, lead us to vote like our future witness depends on it. Lord, help us.
I also shared this post here: https://willdarden.medium.com/as-election-day-approaches-an-appeal-to-white-evangelicals-4a5092479f1f