A Declaration by American Evangelicals Concerning Donald Trump
Imperfect elections and flawed candidates often make for complicated and difficult choices for Christians. But sometimes historic moments arise when more is at stake than partisan politics–when the meaning and integrity of our faith hangs in the balance. This is one of those moments.
A significant mistake in American politics is the media’s continued identification of “evangelical” with mostly white, politically conservative, older men. We are not those evangelicals. The media’s narrow labels of our community perpetuate stereotypes, ignore our diversity, and fail to accurately represent views expressed by the full body of evangelical Christians.
We are Americans of African and European descent, Latino/a, Asian American, and Native American. We are women and men, as well as younger and older evangelical Christians. We come from a wide range of denominations, churches, and political orientations.
We believe in the unity of the body of Christ, but we acknowledge the diverse nature of a community whose faith is biblical and evangelical. And we are growing. Given the rich diversity within our unity, we call upon the political world to hear all our voices, and for the media to acknowledge that the evangelical community is quite diverse.
As evangelical Christians, we believe our hope and allegiance rests in the person of Jesus Christ, Savior of the world, and Lord of our lives. That is why no politician, party, movement, or nation can ever command our ultimate loyalty. As citizens both of the Kingdom of God and this world, we vote with humility, knowing that our favored candidates always fall short of biblical values. We recognize that despite our unity in Christ, we will inevitably disagree about which political stances come closest to the heart of God for our nation.
We believe that the centrality of Christ, the importance of both conversion and discipleship, the authority of the Scriptures, and the “good news” of the gospel, especially for the poor and vulnerable, should prevail over ideological politics, and that we must respond when evangelicalism becomes dangerously identified with one particular candidate whose statements, practice, personal morality, and ideology risk damaging our witness to the gospel before the watching world.
We believe that racism strikes at the heart of the gospel; we believe that racial justice and reconciliation is at the core of the message of Jesus.
We believe the candidacy of Donald J. Trump has given voice to a movement that affirms racist elements in white culture—both explicit and implicit. Regardless of his recent retraction, Mr. Trump has spread racist “birther” falsehoods for five years trying to delegitimize and humiliate our first African-American president, characterizing him as “the other” and not a real American citizen. He uses fear to demonize and degrade immigrants, foreigners, and people from different racial, ethnic, and religious backgrounds. He launched his presidential campaign by demonizing Mexicans, immigrants, and Muslims, and has repeatedly spoken against migrants and refugees coming to this country—those whom Jesus calls “the stranger” in Matthew 25, where he says that how we treat them is how we treat him. Trump has steadily refused to clearly and aggressively confront extremist voices and movements of white supremacy, some of whom now call him their “champion,” and has therefore helped to take the dangerous fringes of white nationalism in America to the mainstream of politics.
Mr. Trump has fueled white American nationalism with xenophobic appeals and religious intolerance at the expense of gospel values, democratic principles, and important international relationships. He mocks women and the sanctity of marriage vows, disregards facts and the accountability to truth, and worships wealth and shameful materialism, while taking our weakening culture of civility to nearly unprecedented levels with continuing personal attacks on others, including attacking a federal judge based purely on his Mexican heritage, mocking a disabled reporter, and humiliating a beauty pageant winner for her weight and Latina ethnicity—to give just a few examples.
Because we believe that racial bigotry has been a cornerstone of this campaign, it is a foundational matter of the gospel for us in this election, and not just another issue. This is not just a social problem, but a fundamental wrong. Racism is America’s original sin. Its brazen use to win elections threatens to reverse real progress on racial equity and set America back.
Donald Trump’s campaign is the most recent and extreme version of a history of racialized politics that has been pursued and about which white evangelicals, in particular, have been silent. The silence in previous times has set the environment for what we now see.
For this reason, we cannot ignore this bigotry, set it aside, just focus on other issues, or forget the things Mr. Trump has consistently said and done. No matter what other issues we also care about, we have to make it publicly clear that Mr. Trump’s racial and religious bigotry and treatment of women is morally unacceptable to us as evangelical Christians, as we attempt to model Jesus’ command to “love your neighbors as yourself.”
Whether we support Mr. Trump’s political opponent is not the question here. Hillary Clinton is both supported and distrusted by a variety of Christian voters. We, undersigned evangelicals, simply will not tolerate the racial, religious, and gender bigotry that Donald Trump has consistently and deliberately fueled, no matter how else we choose to vote or not to vote.
We see this election as a significant teachable moment for our churches and our nation to bring about long-needed repentance from our racial sin. Out of this belief we have written this declaration, inviting you to be part of what we have learned from one another and long to see in the churches and the world—a commitment to justice and the dignity of all human lives.
We invite you to stand with us, join in this declaration, and pass it along to your friends, congregants, pastors, students, and the diverse evangelical church.
Bishop Claude Alexander, Senior Pastor, The Park Church *
Onleilove Alston, Executive Director, Faith in NY*
David M. Bailey, Executive Director, Arrabon*
Dr. Leroy Barber, Executive Director, The Voices Project*
Rev. William Barber, President, Repairers of the Breach*
Katelyn Beaty, Print Managing Editor, Christianity Today*
Dr. Timothy Tee Boddie, General Secretary, Progressive National Baptist Convention*
Rev. Dr. Peter Borgdorff, Executive Director Emeritus, Christian Reformed Church in North America*
Rev. Jonathan E.L. Brooks, Senior Pastor, Canaan Community Church, Chicago*
Austin Channing Brown, Writer and Speaker*
Deborah Brunt, Blogger and Author*
Rev. Dr. Tony Campolo, Author and Activist*
Rev. Dr. Mae Elise Cannon, Author*
Vanessa Carter, Founding member, Jesus for Revolutionaries (Los Angeles)*
Dr. Shawn Casselberry, Executive Director, Mission Year*
Noel Castellanos, Chief Executive Officer, CCDA*
Rev. Eugene Cho, Pastor, Author, Activist*
Rev. Dr. Rich Cizik, President and Founder, New Evangelical Partnership*
Shane Claiborne, Author, Activist, and Co-Founder of Red Letter Christians*
Shani Dowell, Mother, Wife, Educator*
Rev. Joshua DuBois, Founder and CEO, Values Partnerships, Washington, DC; President Obama’s “Pastor in Chief”*
Rev. Dr. Gerald L. Durley, Pastor Emeritus, Providence Baptist Church*
Rev. Dr. Bob Ekblad, General Director, Tierra Nueva*
Michael O. Emerson, Author*
Erina Eubanks-Kim, Activist*
Jason Fileta, Executive Director, Micah Challenge USA*
Barbara Fiske, Community Advocate*
Dr. Robert M. Franklin, Director of the Religion Department, Chautauqua Institution*
Dave Gibbons, Founder, Newsong and Xealots.org*
Marlena Graves, Author, Speaker, Activist*
Rev. Dominique Gilliard, New Hope Covenant Church*
Rev. Wes Granberg-Michaelson, General Secretary Emeritus, Reformed Church in America*
Dr. Mimi Haddad, President of Christians for Biblical Equality, CBEInternational*
Rev. Cynthia Hale, Senior Pastor, Ray of Hope Christian Church*
Lisa Sharon Harper, Chief Church Engagement Officer, Sojourners*
Rev. Fred Harrell, Senior Pastor, City Church, San Francisco*
Rev. Dr. Bethany Harris, Church & Community Consultant, ReQuip Community*
Rachel Held Evans*
Rev. Dr. Peter Heltzel, Associate Professor of Theology, New York Theological Seminary*
Christopher L. Heuertz, Founding Partner of Gravity, a Center for Contemplative Activism*
Dr. Mike Higgins, Covenant Theological Seminary*
Michelle Higgins, Director of Faith for Justice, Director of Worship and Outreach, South City Church in Saint Louis, MO*
Rev. Daniel Hill, River City Community Church*
Angie Hong, Worship Leader, Writer, Program Lead, Willow Chicago*
Dr. Al Hsu, Editor and Author*
David Husby, Director, Covenant World Relief*
Hyepin Im, President and CEO, Korean Churches for Community Development*
Carolyn Custis James, Author*
Dr. Russell Jeung, Author and Professor, New Hope Covenant Church*
David W. Kersten, Dean, North Park Theological Seminary, Chicago*
Kathy Khang, Writer, Speaker, Activist*
Larry Kim, Cambridge Community Fellowship Church*
Ambassador Jo Anne Lyon, General Superintendent Emerita, The Wesleyan Church*
Rev. Carlos Malave, Executive Director, Christian Churches Together in the USA*
Amelia Markham, Southeast organizer, The Reformation Project*
Rev. Michael A. Mata, Associate Pastor, Los Angeles First Church of the Nazarene*
Rev. Dr. Walter Arthur McCray, President, National Black Evangelical Association*
Rev. Brian D. McLaren, Author, former Pastor, Board Chair, Convergenceus.org*
David Neff, retired Editor-in-Chief, Christianity Today, former Vice Chair, National Association of Evangelicals*
Rev. Dr. James C. Perkins, President, Progressive National Baptist Convention*
Suzii Paynter, Executive Coordinator, Cooperative Baptist Fellowship*
Rev. Adam Phillips, Pastor, Christ Church, Portland*
Dr. Soong-Chan Rah, North Park Theological Seminary*
Dr. Brenda Salter McNeil*
Rev. Alexia Salvatierra, Faith-Rooted Organizing UnNetwork*
Scot Sherman, Executive Director, Newbigin House*
SueAnn Shiah, Musician, Writer, Filmmaker*
Rev. Dr. Ron Sider, President Emeritus, Evangelicals for Social Action*
Dr. Barbara Williams Skinner, President, Skinner Leadership Institute; Co-chair, National African American Clergy Network*
Andrea Smith, NAIITS*
Dr. T. Dewitt Smith, Jr., Co-Chair of the National African American Clergy Network, Former President of the Progressive National Baptist Convention, Inc.; Senior Pastor, Trinity Baptist Church of Metro Atlanta*
Maria-Jose Soerens, Executive Director, Puentes*
Rev. Gail Song-Bantum, Executive Pastor, Quest Church*
Rev. Margot Starbuck
Rev. David Swanson, New Community Covenant Church, Chicago*
Rev. Rod Thomas, ThM, Educator, writer at The Resist Daily*
Rev. Greg Thompson, Trinity Presbyterian Church*
Lenore Three Stars, Oglala Lakota*
Rev. Steven Timmermans, Executive Director, Christian Reformed Church in North America*
Rev. Jemar L. Tisby, President and Co-Founder, Reformed African American Network*
Rev. Dr. Al Tizon, North Park Theological Seminary*
Nikki Toyama-Szeto, Author and Speaker*
Rev. Harold Dean Trulear, National Director, Healing Communities USA*
Sandra Maria Van Opstal, Speaker, Author, Activist*
Rev. Gary VanderPol, Author, Senior Pastor, Church Without Walls, Berkeley, CA*
AnaYelsi Velasco-Sanchez, Organizing and Programs Director, The Reformation Project*
Rev. Richard Villodas, Pastor, New Life Fellowship*
Dr. Chanequa Walker-Barnes, Associate Professor of Practical Theology, McAfee School of Theology, Mercer University*
Rev. Jim Wallis, President and Founder, Sojourners*
Michelle Warren, Advocacy & Policy Engagement Director, CCDA*
Lisa Watson, CCDA*
Colin P. Watson Sr., Director of Ministries and Administration, Christian Reformed Church in North America*
Dr. Daniel White Hodge, Director of Center for Youth Ministry Studies and Associate Professor of Youth Ministry, North Park University*
Rev. Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove, Author and Director, School for Conversion*
Sarah Withrow King, Interim Director, Evangelicals for Social Action*
Dr. John D. Witvliet, Director, Calvin Institute of Christian Worship*
JR Woodward, Activist and Author*
Judy Wu Dominick, Writer, Activist*
Rev. Ken Wytsma, Lead Pastor, Antioch Church; President, Kilns College*
*Organizations and titles listed for identification purposes only and do not necessarily reflect the position of the institution.
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