Editor’s note: Five powerful and diverse evangelical voices came together in a first-ever “National Town Hall on Evangelical Faith and Politics” (Aug. 6, Facebook Live), moderated by Lisa Sharon Harper, to bravely start the conversation Evangelicals need to have in this consequential year for our nation: Charles Robinson from the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma works with The Red Road, a non-profit that shares the love of Jesus with native people in a culturally relevant and biblically sound way. Rev. Dr. Alexia Salvatierra, is Fuller Seminary’s assistant professor of Integral Mission and Transformational Development in the school of Intercultural Studies and Centro Latino. Rev. Justin Adour is lead pastor of Redeemer East Harlem Church in New York City. Kyle J. Howard is a theologian and trauma-informed soul care provider. Andrea Lucado is a journalist and an author based in Texas. Everyone except Andrea is an Evangelical of color. What follows is Part 7 of our 8-part series based on the National Town Hall.
We talk power and politics. Alexia starts us off with Psalm 72.
Alexia: Psalm 72 is a prayer for the king to be a king that obeys God in all areas of his life. There’s particular attention to the needy and the poor and their well-being, understanding that the well-being of the whole society is seen in the needy and the poor and the children. The last two lines talk about who this king is. It says he prays that he would treat every life as precious and protect people from oppression and violence. I want our political system to treat every life as precious and to protect people from oppression and violence. We can then argue about different strategies, but that’s what I think we need to be about as a country.
Justin: You cannot expect unquestioned loyalty solely because of historic connections that certain types of Christians may have had to particular political parties. It is working against you to solely rally your base without attempting to understand and properly engage those who would otherwise disagree with you. We’re becoming the worst versions of ourselves as a result of it. I would call on all elected officials and particularly those entering races right now. You don’t have our loyalty because of some kind of historic connection. You need to prove that you care about the concerns of our communities, even if those might not necessarily be the concerns that you have in your own personal politics.
Kyle: People are dealing with real racial trauma, and with real other forms of trauma. Many of us are exhausted by the political posturing and the pursuit after power. For many Republicans, they have chosen to align themselves with White Nationalism and support aspects of White Supremacy in a pursuit for political power. They’ve weaponized faith in that process. When it comes to the Democratic party leveraging power, even as they claim to be the party of diversity, they still seek to elevate white men over and against women and minorities. And so even when it comes to this election that we have right now, one of the first things that I lamented was seeing how little many Democrats are willing to put their money where their mouth was when it came to supporting minority candidates or women candidates. I think there needs to be a focus on many ways of redistributing power and being intentional with how that’s pursued. Both Republicans and Democrats need to understand that the power that is given to them through the electorate is power to serve. It’s power to practice self-denial, not self-interest, and serve the communities that elected them. I think that we have lost that. On both sides of the aisle.
Charles: Think of the people that you had the hardest time with, maybe your greatest enemy or maybe who your policies will affect the greatest. Think of those people, and go sit down with them. No cameras, no journalists, nobody to report what’s being said, just sit down and get to know people. The politicians, every one of them, all come through Indian country throughout the election year for their photo ops. They really don’t give a crap about our Native people. We’re not a voting bloc in most instances, so they’re not catering to get our votes. But if you reach out to people that are not like you, spend time with them, get to know them . . . I’ve asked friends who are opposed to immigration. I say, how many undocumented people have you had lunch with that are here in Tennessee where I live now? And every single one of them said, “I don’t know anybody personally who’s living here undocumented.” I said, well, that’s the problem. When you get to know people, they become more than just a vote for you. They become a real person. And that’s what Jesus did. Jesus came to us and said go serve my people. Feed the hungry people, take care of the people. That’s what we’re asking of these folks.
The National Town Hall on Evangelical Faith and Politics was convened by Freedom Road LLC in partnership with Evangelicals for Justice, The Voices Project, Global Immersion Project and Evangelicals for Social Action. Follow Freedom Road on Facebook and Instagram @FreedomRoadUs.