A Letter to My Fellow Evangelicals,
(To be read on the morning of November 9th)
by Tai Anderson, October 14, 2016
I know many of us are reeling right now. Hillary Clinton just won the presidency of the United States. For 24 years, our leaders, political and spiritual, have warned us of the dangers of this happening. They’ve told us that this would be the final straw, the end of our republic. It’s not. I know that it feels like it is, but it isn’t. To quote the most often deployed spiritual imperative, “Do not be afraid.”
If we turn on the Fox News Channel right now, they will tell us that we have reason to be afraid. We don’t. Everything is going to be okay. “Do not be afraid.”
If we turn on an AM radio station, they will try their hardest to scare the crap out of us. Don’t let them. Everything is going to be okay. “Do not be afraid.”
You see, we’ve been here before. Remember when we forwarded those posts on Facebook that Christians would be marshaled into FEMA work camps if Obama was elected? It didn’t happen, and it’s not going to happen now.
Remember how scared we were on Y2K? Everything was okay.
The U.S. is still work-camp free, there are more guns than ever. We still live in a wealthy, prosperous nation where we are free to worship as we please, especially when you're an evangelical Christian. Will there be challenges ahead? Yes, but our biblical charge is to not be afraid, no matter what.
You see, when we give into fear, we get the opposite of faith. Instead of power, we get hopelessness. Instead of love, we demonstrate hate. Instead of a sound mind, we go completely nuts.
Let’s be honest. We’ve been completely nuts.
We gave our support to a man who showed every sign of a narcissistic, messiah complex. Donald Trump has fed our fears. He’s told us to fear our neighbors. We’ve bought in, and we’ve been hateful and crazy. Even if we haven't personally allowed hate into our hearts, that is now how our neighbors perceive us because we gave allegiance to a man who sought to use us for his own ends.
Evangelicals, we have work to do, and it’s not political work. It’s spiritual work. We need to repent. We sacrificed a lot to support this man. In 2000, George W. Bush ran on a slogan to “restore honor and dignity to the White House.” In 2016, we effectively said that we don’t care about honor and dignity as long as we can win. We were wrong. Character does and will always matter.
When women came forward to tell stories of being assaulted by Trump, we said, “It doesn’t matter, he’ll make America Great Again.” We were wrong. It does matter.
When he insulted handicapped people, we said, “It doesn’t matter, he’ll make America Great Again.” We were wrong. It does matter.
When he insulted hispanics, we said, “It doesn’t matter, he’ll make America Great Again.” We were wrong. It does matter.
When he showed no sensitivity to the African American experience, we said, “It doesn’t matter, he’ll make America Great Again.” We were wrong. It does matter.
We have lost more than the presidency in this election.
We have lost our witness. We have lost our honor.
We have lost our dignity.
But, all is not lost.
We need to repent. We need to demonstrate a brokenness and humility to our neighbors of color, to our LGBT neighbors, to our Jewish neighbors, to our Muslim neighbors, to our female neighbors, to all our neighbors. Unless they were a white male, we've probably offended them over the last 18 months. We’ve sacrificed civility and integrity at the altar of power, and it isn’t worth it. We were wrong.
We ask our children athletes to demonstrate good sportsmanship when they lose a contest and shake hands with their opponents. We need to demonstrate the kind of decency, humility and sportsmanship we used to publicly demand of our candidates.
It’s time we returned to loving our neighbor again, all of our neighbors. It’s time we said that we will not give in to fear ever again, and don’t accept leaders that would divide us. It’s time that we admit that we were wrong. If that makes you defensive, you’re missing the point of authentic faith. We should be quick to admit when we are wrong, show genuine contrition, apologize, and ask for, not demand, forgiveness.
The posture of a true believer is to readily admit that he/she is a sinner, that he/she is wrong.
It might not feel like it right now, but we have really won this election. The ability to share the “good news” of a gospel that is supposed to be good news for the poor would have been much more difficult with a man representing us in the white house to our nation and the world who demonstrates none of the fruits of the spirit we are called to bear, all under the pretense of a Christian banner. The ability to authentically share our faith would have been much more difficult. That’s supposed to be our priority as evangelicals, to point others to Jesus.
As we model humility to our neighbors, they will once again give us audience to share the gospel story again. When we learn to love our neighbors again, they will ask us what motivates our charity, and we can point them to a relationship with Christ.
I know many of us are still licking our wounds. We thought that Trump was the only person who could save our nation. He told us so repeatedly. He was wrong, and we were wrong for believing him. Our nation needs healing. Our nation needs forgiveness. Our nation needs love. God's love, modeled from each and every one of us. If we reach out to our African American, Hispanic, LGBT communities and confess that we were wrong, they will forgive us in a heartbeat. If you don’t believe me, just try it, today, November 9, 2016.
I know we’ve been told otherwise our whole lives, but all that the people we’ve been taught to fear are simply asking for is a seat at the table of equality. As far as I’m concerned, they can have my seat because I need to spend some time on my knees. We all do.