taking the words of Jesus seriously

We’re just 8 Sundays away from the 2020 election. Between now and then, a moral reckoning among women of faith will determine the future of this nation and, I dare say, the planet. I believe we can rise to the moment by bringing to the fore our shared values of family, dignity, and justice.

As Americans march on Washington to declare that Black Lives Matter, white supremacist terrorists gun down protesters, 1000 Americans die of COVID-19 daily, and the Republican National Convention reduces the party platform to borderline idolatrous veneration of a white supremacist president who condones it all, we can’t make the mistake of treating this year like any other election. We are at a crossroads, and there is no turning back.

President Trump won a plurality of white women voters in 2016, despite a litany of sexist remarks and credible accusations of sexual assault. Meanwhile, 94% of Black women voters cast their ballots for Hillary Clinton. While this massive racial gap will not be closed altogether, I believe we’ll see millions more white women vote for Joe Biden and Senator Kamala Harris than supported the Democratic ticket in 2016.

The president’s racially coded language targeting white suburban women with appeals to “law and order” is a relic from an earlier, whiter era of American politics. While it still has an audience, a recent poll showed Democratic nominee Joe Biden with a 16-point lead among women. Running mate Senator Kamala Harris, the first African-American woman to be nominated for VP, will provide steady and forceful reminders of President Trump’s misogyny between now and November 3rd.

READ: Faith and Politics: Which Guides the Other? 

Faith must always come before partisan loyalties, but let’s be frank about the differences in values between the Republican and Democratic parties in 2020. As I watched the Republican convention and have listened to President Trump’s rhetoric ever since, the constant stoking of white Christian fear and resentment was inescapable. One convention speaker, Nikki Haley, outright denied America’s racism. President Trump has called Black Lives Matter a “symbol of hate” while offering no condemnation of the 17-year-old, Kyle Rittenhouse, who murdered two Black Lives Matter supporters in Kenosha, Wisconsin.

It’s no secret that American churches have long been divided along politically treacherous fault lines: liberal vs conservative, white supremacy vs anti-racism, patriarchy vs egalitarianism—to name just a few. But I see more and more faithful women coming together. While politicians and our male pastors often divide communities for their own benefit, we are uniting for a truly pro-family, pro-justice politics.

I see it directly in my work at Faith in Public Life Action. As a national network of faith leaders, we recently launched the Women of Faith 2020 platform, an agenda signed by over a hundred of the most prominent women faith leaders in the nation.

Together, we’ve taken clear and unifying stances on issues that have divided the nation: the health care system, reproductive rights and women’s health, LGBTQ equality, immigration, climate change, and the often-ignored issue of disability rights. It is time we take a compassionate moral approach to these issues to secure our children’s futures.

From the nomination of an African-American running mate to faith outreach to constituencies as diverse as Latinx evangelicals and white Catholics, I see signs that the Biden campaign will not take racially diverse women of faith for granted.

It doesn’t surprise me to see polls showing white evangelical Christian women drifting away from the party of Trump, toward his overwhelming disapproval among women of color. A recent poll by the conservative American Enterprise Institute showed a 13-point gender gap, with 76 percent of white evangelical men approving of the president, compared to 63% of white evangelical women.

In the final stretch of a presidential election year, it would be easy to pour all of our spiritual energy into the same type of politics that has failed and torn this nation apart for so long. That would be a mistake. So what is the rock upon which we can build a more faithful and moral politics?

We can start by demanding more of ourselves. We need to do our homework about the injustices in our communities and make informed decisions about how our political choices either heal or deepen these wounds. We should seek true liberation and wholeness, rather than splitting the difference between the political parties. As women of faith in a nation at the crossroads, we will lead the nation to a healthier, more just future.

About The Author


Rev. Jennifer Butler is the Founder in Residence of Faith in Public Life, a network of faith leaders united in the pursuit of justice. She chaired President Obama’s Advisory Council on Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships. She was named one of the “22 Faith Leaders to Watch in 2022” by Center for American Progress. She is the author of Who Stole my Bible? Reclaiming Scripture as a Handbook for Resisting Tyranny, which makes a biblical case for multi-faith, multiracial democracy in the face of rising white Christian Nationalism and authoritarianism in the U.S. and around the world.

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