A new president has been elected. Under normal circumstances, the supporters of the new president are thrilled and the supporters of the defeated opponent are depressed. But for the most part, just about all Americans are willing to fall in behind the new administration and give it a chance to govern.
But those circumstances, alas, are not ours. A polarizing figure has been elected. Another polarizing figure was defeated. It is unfortunate that these were our two major choices. According to the New York Times, only 9 percent of Americans voted to nominate Clinton and Trump. That in itself is a galling reality. But it is still the reality.
There are protests all over the country, less it seems over the fact that Clinton lost and more over the fact that Trump won. But as I see it, the consternation goes deeper than that. Trump, because of his own statements and behavior, has sent the message to the nation that he is anti-immigrant, misogynistic, and racist. (When I say racist, it is not necessarily because he doesn’t like black people–rather, it is because he is supportive of power structures that favor white people). Women, minorities, and immigrants are afraid for their safety and security–because of how Trump has constructed his image over the past 18 months. They are also worried because, as has been underscored time and again, Trump is an unknown element. Nobody knows what to expect out of a Trump presidency, because he has been so short on details and long on generalizations and emotions.
And since eighty-one percent of evangelical Christians supported Trump, they have a particular responsibility to demonstrate support for women, minorities, and immigrants. Evangelicals have risked their public witness by abandoning their traditional conviction that persons who stand for office should have an honorable character. They have also, in their support of Trump, gained (maybe–I stress, maybe) a seat at the table of power, while wagering their own credibility in the public square. If evangelicals ignore those who have legitimate concerns about their futures, then they will indeed lose any and all credibility that remains for them in America.
Many evangelical Christians did not vote for Trump. But even those who did not have a special responsibility to marginalized people, because they will be implicated in Trump’s election whether they like it or not.
Ed Stetzer and Laurie Nichols have a piece out in Christianity Today laying out some helpful specifics on what evangelicals can do to show support for those who are anxious for the future. It’s very helpful, and evangelical Christians should follow their prescriptions.
Here is a portion of the article:
As such, let me share six ways that White Evangelicals, among others, can respond.
First, if you’ve never spoken up about some of the offensive things that Trump has said, this would be a good time to apologize for that.
I was deeply disappointed that many Evangelicals changed their views about the private character of public officials as President-elect Trump emerged. And many Evangelicals, who were deeply concerned about Hillary Clinton’s possible election, were inappropriately silent while Trump acted and spoke so divisively.
It’s a good time to apologize for that silence. Even if you made the decision that Hillary Clinton was a greater evil, if you never spoke up about some of Trump’s comments, you’ve failed those to whom those comments were addressed.
Second, if you are in ministry leadership, affirm (or begin) a commitment to developing a multicultural approach that more intentionally elevates people of color.
My friend Derwin Gray, who is lead pastor at Transformation Church in North Carolina, has a helpful video to help us get started in our churches. We must lead our churches in such a way that when non-Christians come in, they see a commitment to Oneness in the Body of Christ. We must provide places where each person in the church, regardless of race or gender or age, feels welcomed and affirmed.
The last place I spoke before the election was the Mosaix Conference, where I and many others expressed a hope (and plan) for a more diverse church. As our nation is more divided, at this moment, the church needs to become more visibly diverse.
Honestly, I don’t really consider myself a “White Evangelical,” and maybe you don’t either. I preach every week at Moody Church, a multicultural congregation of over 70 nations, but the fact that “White Evangelical” is so clearly a thing reminds us of the work we have to do.
Third, we must all speak for—and sometimes even join—those who are marginalized. My friend Charlie Dates, who serves as senior pastor of Progressive Baptist Church in Chicago, wrote a helpful piece on The Exchange recently. In it, Charlie wrote:
Evangelical churches in America can benefit from the testimony of other Christians who have long lived on the cultural margins, from a people group who wielded no political influence or economic superiority—a people who functioned largely as a subset, or minority in the larger American Evangelical story. In their history abides a witness, a recipe for thriving ministry, and an illustration of the gospel’s power to make buoyant a church relegated to the periphery of national significance.
His statement is powerful; it is a lesson for White Evangelicals to embrace the opportunity to join those who have historically been at the margins for the good of the Church and the glory of God.
This may mean more advocacy in the face of injustice. It may mean volunteering time with inner-city youth who come from single-parent homes. There are many opportunities for compassion and solidarity, and we should be looking for them.
Fourth, we must embrace the refugee, the immigrant, and people on the move. This is a particularly frightening time for some people, precisely because of campaign promises that were made by candidates and approved by voters. Some families genuinely have no idea what will happen next. We cannot underestimate their fears, and we should be the first ones ready to show love and care.
When World Relief launched it’s ‘We Welcome Refugees’ campaign, thousands of people planted a sign in their yards in a symbolic act of solidarity. As white Evangelicals, we pray hard and work hard so that those who find themselves without home and community have people of safety to run towards. We must be places of refuge.
Fifth, we must speak up and quickly condemn any and all racist comments flowing out of this election. Many were quick to condemn statements about other issues, and would have continued to speak out if things had gone a different way.
Racism is evil and we cannot pretend that it was not a part of the rhetoric in our culture these past several months. It simply must not continue, and we should be among the first to repudiate it.
Sixth, we must elevate non-Anglo evangelicals. If you have a platform, join me in sharing it with people of color. It’s not a mistake that I’ve just done a series on Race in America (hosting all African American Evangelicals) and been doing a series on Diaspora Missions (i.e. refugees). Share your pulpit, platform, conference, blog, and more with people of color.
Most of these things we already owe—as Christians, to brothers and sisters of Christ—but if we listen to our minority brothers and sisters, we owe them particularly now.