As the total madness of the Trump “presidential” quest veers into outright racism, one evangelical stands up and pushes back, as does this evangelical magazine.
Trump would dismiss leader at Anacostia River Church, Nick Rodriguez since his name sounds suspiciously Hispanic and his skin is brown.
Bonhoeffer would applaud Rodriguez. (Dietrich Bonhoeffer was a German Lutheran pastor, theologian, anti-Nazi dissident.)
The rest of us should say thank you to the Gospel Coalition for doing their bit to salvage the reputation of people calling themselves Christians at this dark moment in American history… albeit, they feel compelled to distance themselves from their own courage by adding an editor’s note to this article saying it does not express their views.
At least they printed it! Where’s everyone else? Here are the main points I’ve excerpted from the full article…
Editor’s Note: This is a guest post from a friend, fellow church member, and leader at Anacostia River Church, Nick Rodriguez. By day, Nick works in education policy and reform. But he’s a full-time husband and father who loves the Lord Jesus Christ. The views expressed here are Nick’s. They do not represent the views of Anacostia River Church or The Gospel Coalition. If interested in more of my personal views on this topic, see here and here.
Last week, Donald Trump officially secured the number of delegates needed to win the Republican nomination … Trump’s nomination has presented evangelical Christians with a difficult choice: support Trump, support Hillary Clinton…
…Some believe that while Trump would be bad, Hillary would be just as bad (or close enough that it doesn’t really matter). So they counsel no vote, or a vote for a third party. Others are undecided. But a very small minority, including my host on this blog, have decided (at least for now) to vote for Hillary.
I’m writing this post in Thabiti’s space both to add my voice to his and to make a claim that goes a little further: I think that evangelical leaders – in particular, conservative evangelical leaders – need to use all the influence God has given them to encourage thinking Christians to vote for Hillary Clinton. No dithering; no qualifications. The stakes are simply too high.
Let me back up for a moment and share a little bit about where I’m coming from. I’m a member of Thabiti’s church and a person of color. I’m also a lifelong Democrat. I became a believer just over 10 years ago, and while my views on life and marriage changed, most of the rest of my political beliefs – which align with those of the Democratic party – did not. So my voting behavior stayed the same, even after my conversion.
That was about to change with this election. Over the course of years and conversations with Christian friends who are active in politics, I became convicted that, for all my alignment with Democrats on other issues, a single issue – a Democrat’s endorsement of the right to kill unborn children – outweighed all the others. So I was getting ready to (reluctantly) pull the lever for Ted Cruz, or Marco Rubio, or Scott Walker, or whoever won the Republican nomination, this November. Then Donald Trump interrupted my plans.
- Every election is a choice between different evils.
This point has been made before, but I just want to make it again, in case any of us are laboring under the illusion that past endorsements of “traditional” candidates were morally uncomplicated choices. Exhibit A is the 2012 election: four years ago, most of you had no problem telling Christians to vote for an avowed leader of a false religion – a person who had dedicated a substantial portion of his life shepherding souls down a path that leads to hell. When you endorsed him, I know you weren’t endorsing that; you just had a common cause that was more important. The same is true with endorsing Hillary. You’re not endorsing her views on abortion (and you can make that clear); rather, you have a common cause with her that’s more important. Which brings me to…
- Trump may be an existential threat to the Republic.
Plenty of observers have noted Trump’s authoritarian rhetoric, his megalomania and narcissism, and the literal cult of personality he has built. And they have painted a picture of just how real the threat of Trump could be. Andrew Sullivan captures the image well in a recent essay in New York Magazine:
“Trump is not just a wacky politician of the far right, or a riveting television spectacle, or a Twitter phenom and bizarre working-class hero. He is not just another candidate to be parsed and analyzed by TV pundits in the same breath as all the others. In terms of our liberal democracy and constitutional order, Trump is an extinction-level event. It’s long past time we started treating him as such.”…
…But if Trump turns out to be the “extinction-level event” that Sullivan predicts, and you fail to do everything in your power to stop him, then you will join a long line of evangelical leaders who have been on the wrong side of history – and judged harshly for it – at critical moments ranging from slavery to Jim Crow to abortion (in the early days of that debate). Your witness for Christ – our witness – will be diluted because we didn’t do everything we could to prevent this catastrophe. And there won’t be a next election to get it right.
- Trump is a threat to the unity of the church….I cannot speak for all believers of color, but I believe that many of us are remembering the evangelical church’s history on matters of race, looking to our leaders today, and hoping that this disappointing history does not repeat itself.
- You may think she’s terrible, but Hillary Clinton is a conventional Democrat.
All right, you might be thinking: Trump is bad, but isn’t Hillary just as bad? Isn’t her support for abortion alone equal to all of the terrible things I’ve just described?
Perhaps – and you might spend all of a Hillary Clinton presidency opposing everything she’s doing at the top of your lungs. But I’m pretty sure you’ll still be able to oppose her in the context of the democratic republic we live in, and that you’ll be able to work to unseat her in the next election if that’s what you want. I cannot say the same of Trump. Fighting to protect life is important – but, with a candidate like Trump in the mix, it’s more important to protect your ability to fight for life over the long term. Due to his marriage of convenience with the Republican party, you might get a Supreme Court justice or two out of a Trump presidency. But it’s a Faustian bargain – eventually, Trump will do whatever is best for him, including appointing judges who help him overturn rather than protect the current constitutional order.
Hillary Clinton may do bad things as president – but as Thabiti said, they will be predictable bad things, and things that you’ll be able to oppose vigorously and with a clear conscience after the threat of Trump is past.
- Yes, you should vote strategically.
…The general election opens us up to an even worse version of this error. It’s a one-shot deal, without opportunities to learn lessons from prior elections. If the polls get it wrong and we’re complacent, we don’t get to correct the mistake. And in any case, why gamble with something so important? Suppose that Trump only has a 20% chance of winning. If we knew there was a 20% chance that our loved ones would die in November, would we spend the next six months comforting ourselves with the 80% chance that they won’t? …
- It has to come from you.
I said at the beginning that I’m not a credible messenger for this argument. I’ve voted for Democrats all my life. It seems obvious that someone like me would take advantage of an opportunity to declare my support for the candidate I’m more culturally comfortable with.
This is why it has to come from you – particularly those of you who have vocally supported Republicans in the past and are likely to continue to do so in the future. Conservative evangelical voters have to hear that it’s OK to vote for Hillary – just this once – from a source that they trust. This is your Nixon to China moment: a chance to take an unlikely stand that will get people’s attention and have an impact on the outcome….
My hope is that I’ll be able to vote for a candidate who unambiguously protects life in 2020. But until then, I hope that Christians throughout this country will work together to protect us from the threat Trump represents. Our leaders can play a big role in giving us permission and guidance within the law to do this in a way that preserves our witness and honors Christ. And though we strive for a particular result, I pray that we would ultimately trust God with the outcome, and that we would glorify Him with our actions both before and after the coming election.
Frank Schaeffer is a writer. His latest book —WHY I AM AN ATHEIST WHO BELIEVES IN GOD: How to give love, create beauty and find peace
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