Time to Get Out And Vote!
Even the most faith-filled follower of Christ in America has felt it. This presidential election season has been exhausting, has pulled on every emotion, has required deep, prayerful thought and consideration.
One of the most disappointing aspects of this election season, for me and others, has been the exposition of the hearts of the evangelical community. To be more specific, our white evangelical brothers and sisters – not all, but by and large.
“I used to watch him on TV, now I don’t have much respect for him anymore.”
These are real sentiments heard among many African-American Christians. Between families and friends, at the barbershop or hair salons, or talking in the parking lot at church – many African-American Christians are taken back by many beloved white preachers who are supporting Donald Trump for President.
For many African-Americans, Christian or not, the slogan “Make America Great Again” conjures feelings of “Make America White Again”. Let’s go back in time to when white was supreme and everyone else knew and stayed in their “place”. The overwhelming Trump support by white supremacy groups and the Alt Right does very little to quell the feelings of angst in my community. It all but confirms them.
But, let’s be clear. There is neither Jew nor Greek, black nor white in the Kingdom of God. God is Lord over all, and our souls are not categorized by race.
However, the America we live in is far from the equality utopia of God’s Kingdom. And, while African-American Christians could choose to ignore racial issues with a “this world is not my home” mindset, I believe Jesus supports our pursuit of an abundant life with the peace and equality that comes with it.
The Burning Election Issue of White Christians
In this Presidential election season, white evangelicals, predominantly led by Franklin Graham, hold fast to their 2 to 3-issue voting stance: abortion, Supreme Court nominations, and religious freedom.
I’ve written before about the reasons why evangelicals support Trump. In this Election Eve, here are some final thoughts on the issue of abortion – the evangelical trump card.
Just as our souls don’t have a race, our souls don’t have an age. Evangelicals’ super-emphasis on abortion implies that God is more grieved at the atrocity (and it is) of abortion than other “flavors” of murder. With the thought that “infant lives matter more”, one would have to question: at what age is my life of lesser value compared to an infant, if I am murdered?
Like all sin, murder starts in the heart, and only God can see it and clean it out – not a vote. It kind of boils down to a pseudo-protection: If I vote for Trump, I’m saving the babies. Sure, it makes for good sleep at night, and bragging points to fellow evangelicals, but too bad God can’t be wooed with a pro-life vote. Sorry, you’re not doing God a favor; He never asked for our help when it comes to sin.
If evangelicals want to be Murder Police and swing scriptural batons, how many times did they arrest Trump? There’s a reason why those who hate are also judged as murderers. Hate in our hearts makes us no better than an abortionist. Ouch.
So, I ask you, white evangelicals brothers and sisters…
Where are the national prayer rallies and revival tents to redeem white nationalists who hate minority groups? Where are the commercials and social media campaigns for criminal justice reform? Where’s the “cry loud, spare not” for the epidemic of African-American murders at the hands of police?
I understand. Using abortion to push for a preferred candidate is effective. No one with common decency can stomach the thought of babies being killed. But, to strategically use abortion during election seasons, while deaf and mute during other instances of murder, can be viewed as self-serving, un-empathetic, and hypocritical.
Is There Separation of Faith and Race?
Perhaps I can take a step back and offer empathy to white evangelicals by answering relevant questions to the African-American experience:
If I were a white evangelical, would I care as much about police power or stop and frisk? Would I cringe when I hear someone who wants to be POTUS say, “my African-American over there”?
If I were a white evangelical, would I take offense that the “plan and contract with Black America” is typically presented in front of a crowd of people who looked like me – white? Or, would I take offense at Trump’s non-condemning position of a black protester being “roughed up”?
If I were a white evangelical, would I agree with Trump that, yeah, “Blacks are living in hell.”
If I were a white evangelical, would I have the sensitivity to feel that discrimination against any racial or religious group is potential discrimination against all?
If I were a white evangelical, could I stand with Trump because he promised to overturn Roe v. Wade, appoint conservative judges to the Supreme Court, and protect religious freedom – knowing his flip-flop position on abortion, and his track record of dishonoring his contracts with businesses and not paying?
If I were a white evangelical, would 2-3 election issues be enough for me to vote for Trump?
The separation of faith and race is not between blacks and whites, but within the individual. I’ve tried to put my feet in a white evangelical’s shoes and walk an inch. The problem is – my heart and soul is uncomfortable being choked by the laces of the above ideals. And some of the issues are simply steeped in common sense versus race, in my opinion.
Where I can honestly say that, yes, growing up as white and Christian in America would’ve shaped my perspective in society, I think associating my vote to Trump for POTUS would have caused me anguish – if only for knowing the potential impact on my minority friends at church, work, etc. There go my AA-lenses again.
This may explain why many African-Americans see a good number of white evangelical leaders a little differently now. Many African-Americans feel the same preached Word on Sunday should’ve broadened the understanding of this presidential race beyond just a few issues.
In our reality, there is too much at stake for African-Americans to simply “look to the candidate who voices biblical principles.” Many have seen the abundance of Trump’s heart speak loud and clear. Evangelical election issues aren’t broad enough for many Christians of color to simply “vote the Bible”.
If you’re like me, even as a Christian, you believe there’s more at stake than making this temporary home more Christian-comfortable – especially when the Word of the Lord has already told us perilous times are coming and those who live godly will be persecuted.
For now, America is far from seeing our faith first, and not seeing our race at all.
So, What’s the Play Call?
Vote on November 8th. Pray for post-election healing in America.