A Letter to My Evangelical Pastor

Dear Pastor,

Like millions of Americans, I went to bed on election night shocked by the early results of the presidential election. I couldn’t bear to watch it. I cried. I slept fitfully. I woke in the middle of the night to look at the news on my phone and my fears were confirmed. I wept some more. I prayed. As I lay in bed, I sung the words to Isaiah 41:10 in my head: Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee;  yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.

But I am dismayed. I am among the 20% of evangelical Christians who voted against Donald Trump – yes, not for Clinton, but against Trump. I did not expect Clinton to save my country but I know that she is well informed and capable and I trusted her to be a decent human being. Flawed, but decent. I voted against the man chosen by evangelicals because I find Trump’s words and behavior not just deplorable, but the complete opposite of my Savior, Jesus Christ. I cannot excuse his words away in exchange for political power. I cannot listen to his voice because over the loud clanging of throw them out! I hear the voice of Jesus, the voice of the Good Shepherd saying Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.

I am dismayed with the election results because non-believers are watching. A year ago, my atheist niece posted an article about evangelical support for Donald Trump and I had to respond to it because I could not fathom how anyone who believes in the gospel could support him. Anyone can say they are a Christian; many people culturally identify as Christians but have no personal relationship with Christ. I thought about how the word evangelical has lost its meaning – spreading the Good News of Jesus Christ. I became so uncomfortable with the label evangelical that I changed my Facebook profile to born again believer. On my blog, I wrote about the puzzle of evangelical Christian support for Trump, trying to understand how this could be possible.

You suggested that the reason Christians might worry about a Trump presidency is a lack of trust. You reminded us that God is big enough. You seem to think that the faith of those who grieve this election outcome is not big enough, that we put too much faith in a candidate. You are wrong. Jesus is my King of Kings and Lord of Lords. When I pray the prayer that Jesus taught me, I pray that His kingdom will come, that His will be done. I know that He is God and I am not. But still I grieve – because I love.

Those of us who vowed Never Trump worry for others because we know that millions of non-white Americans live in fear. We worry that Muslims will be targeted for their religious beliefs. We worry because racism still exists. We saw Donald Trump shamelessly promote the “birther” lie in an attempt to delegitimize Obama’s presidency. We saw how easily and quickly whites dismissed the concerns of the Black Lives Matter movement. We worry because we believe that women deserve to be treated with dignity and respect and that no man, not even a celebrity, has the right to touch a woman without her consent. We worry about Mexican immigrants who live with the threat of deportation and being separated from their families. We worry about all the “others” who have not yet put trust in God because we know how wicked people can be, especially when they are swayed by the words of a demagogue.

My faith is strong. I know that my God is in control of this. I know that my God was in control during the Holocaust. My God was on this throne during the Inquisition. My God had a plan for the American Civil Rights Movement. He had a plan for Apartheid in South Africa. But knowing that God has a plan, knowing that God is in control, knowing that God is big enough for this – this does not lessen my grief.

Today, I feel disconnected from the church because I don’t understand the people who sit next to me in the pews. I look around me knowing that as many as four out of five of my Christian brothers and sisters voted for a man who is motivated by anger and a desire for revenge, not by the desire to love God and to love one another.

What are they hearing when they hear love your neighbor as yourself? Are they asking of Jesus, who is my neighbor? Today, when I read the parable of the Good Samaritan, Christ’s response to that question, I see the Good Muslim, the Good Refugee, the Good Mexican. What are evangelicals hearing when they read, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me?  Do they think it only means other Christians? I don’t think so. Jesus was a contrarian and he pushes us to love in a way that is hard. Love your enemies. Bless those who curse you.

The world is watching to see how Christians respond to a Trump presidency.  Although I worry about what lies ahead (worrying is part of my nature), I trust that God will use this for good. God has lit a fire in me – I will use my voice to stand up for the objects of Trump’s anger – fellow human beings. And though I cannot bear to watch or listen to your president-elect (I can’t put the word “my” in front of his name), I will pray that good people will advise him. I pray that he will be humbled. I pray that the same God who redeemed Saul will redeem the unrepentant man who will soon hold the most powerful position in this country.

With Deepest Sorrow,

A Born Again Believer

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