Dear Christians who are thinking of voting for Donald Trump,
Let me plead with you.
So much is at stake in this election. And not only in the ways we typically associate with the political circus. As Christians, it is essential that we honestly face the way Donald Trump’s words demean those who are most vulnerable in our society. We must compare his words and actions with those of our Jesus- and honestly ask whether we can usher in the kingdom of God by voting for such a man.
Donald Trump is a man who brags about overpowering and groping women:
“I just start kissing them. It’s like a magnet. Just kiss. I don’t even wait. And when you’re a star they let you do it. You can do anything…. Just grab them by the pussy.”
Donald Trump has been accused of rape and sexual assault multiple times over his career- from women including his ex-wife Ivana and a woman who describes him raping her at parties as a 13 year old girl. He refers to women as “bitches” and “pieces of ass.”
These are not just words. This is inexcusable.
Misogyny is anti-gospel. And it cannot be shrugged off by evangelicals.
Jesus, our teacher, while he walked the earth, was was primarily concerned with the most vulnerable and marginalized people in society. As a Christian, that is our call, too- to protect the value and dignity of those with the least power. That includes people who are not like us- people of different color, religious background, and sexual orientation. Our God has commanded us to love our enemies, reject violence, turn the other cheek- even when it comes to our enemies.
The most vulnerable people in society are Donald Trump’s primary targets. When he says, “Islam hates us,” and “Mexicans are rapists” and “blacks are living in hell,” it matters.
“Donald J Trump is calling for a total and complete shutdown of all Muslims entering the US.” He told a roaring crowd. His treatment of the Khan Family proved that he included all Muslims in that statement- even Americans who fought for this country, and veterans who and made the ultimate sacrifice while in service. He still promised to excommunicate and ban them all.
That is racism, plain and simple. It is a rejection of religious freedom. It is unconstitutional, anti-gospel, and it is terrifying for all Muslim people listening.
How can we, as Christians, love our Muslim neighbors well while simultaneously supporting a candidate who wants to ban them and keep them on a registry?
Muslims, minorities, and Syrian refugees are the scapegoats on which Trump has attached society’s anxieties and fears. Never mind that the majority of Syrian refugees are children, and that not one has participated in a domestic terror attack since 9/11, Donald still says “I will look Syrian kids in the face and say, go home.”
Compare that sentiment the words of your Jesus: “Depart from me, you evildoers. For I was a stranger and I knocked at your door, and you turned me away. Whatever you have not done for the least of these, you have not done for me.” (Matthew 25)
Compare Donald Trump’s inciting his supporters to violence, punching protesters,and throwing people out into the cold “without a coat” to Jesus’s call to love your enemies: “But I tell you not to resist an evil person. If someone slaps you on your right cheek, turn to him the other also; if someone wants to sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well.”
As a teacher, I’ve already seen the effects of this campaign in the classroom. I’ve had a Muslim girl stay after class, quietly deteriorating into tears because of cruel words whispered to her. Other schools have had to deal with similar issues- such as students bringing “build the wall” signs to basketball games, taunting and screaming at Mexican teens as they play.
If a candidate for President for say it, why can’t they? How can we punish this cruelty in our schools if it’s accepted by one of the most potentially powerful people in the world?
We must remain aware that, historically, when powerful groups of people have systematically targeted vulnerable groups of people, dehumanizing them and blaming them for societies problems, that is when we have seen the greatest capacity for human evil.
This man we are considering electing to the highest office in the land- this reality TV star with a third grade vocabulary, this person with no political experience whatsoever- he is more than just a political danger. Donald Trump is a xenophobe, a proud vulgarian, and an accused rapist. His popularity is proof that racism and fear of “the other” are still powerful forces in America, boiling just beneath the surface of the American psyche. We have seen White Nationalists gather from the fringes and rally in the mainstream to support Donald Trump- including members of The Ku Klux Klan. We should not ignore the significance of that.
As followers of Jesus, we cannot give into this- we have to stand against it, call it into the light, and oppose it. We must remember that racism, implied or explicit, it fundamentally wrong, and fundamentally against the will of God. We cannot give power to a man who wields it for political gain.
Fr. Richard Rohr said “The evangelical support of Trump will be an indictment against its validity as a Christian movement for generations to come.”
I believe that’s true. We will be asking ourselves how we let this happen for years to come. To vote for Donald Trump is to be on the wrong side of history. It is to vote for a man whose words and actions come into direct opposition with the teachings of Christ.
I encourage you to join the many Evangelicals who have stood up in opposition to Trump, refusing to support his toxic rhetoric or try assimilate his message into a Christian one. Read through this Declaration by American Evangelicals Concerning Donald Trump, which has been signed by over 80 prominent Evangelical figures and continue to prayerfully consider this important decision.