taking the words of Jesus seriously


The best among America’s evangelicals have always called the faithful above partisan disagreement to the common ground of our identity in Christ. We are Republican, Democrat, and Independent. But we are more than any political party can hold. We are children of God.


Still,  people acting in God’s name both led the struggle for abolition and led the Confederacy. Evangelicals worked together across racial lines following the Civil War. But other so-callled “evangelicals” also started the KKK.


Dr. King, an evangelical preacher, is now remembered as a founding father on America for his leadership in the mid-20th century. But he was harshly criticized by evangelicals of his own day for mixing faith and politics.


If we’re honest about our history, people of faith have been on both sides of every major struggle in American history. Looking back, we celebrate the role of faith on the side of truth. But faith has always been on the side of wrong as well.


Which is why I and several other Red Letter Christians joined #EvangelicalsAgainstTrump yesterday. You can read our full statement here, but I’ll quote the crux of why I joined this public witness:

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.


I’ve known and respected political conservative my whole life. I understand the political issues that prevent honest conservatives from supporting Hillary Clinton–or any member of the Democratic party, for that matter.


But conservatism is not what’s driving the Trump train in America. Our most conservative newspapers have refused to endorse Trump. Lifelong conservative commentators and politicians have chosen to sacrifice party power rather than endorse Trump.


How, then, has the Trump campaign continued?


Because of people of faith. Many of our sisters and brothers are willing to believe in spite of the evidence–as a matter of faith–that Trump will be their political savior despite a long record of disregarding their values.


Democrats scoff and political pundits point to polls which still suggest Trump could never win. But faith is powerful.


The only thing that can challenge bad religion is true faith, lovingly bearing witness to a better way. I’ve decided to  join my sisters and brothers in #EvangelicalsAgainstTrump because I love my sisters and brothers who’ve been deceived and because I love my neighbors who’ve been the targets of this hateful campaign.



About The Author


Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove is a celebrated spiritual writer and speaker. Together with his wife, Leah, he co-founded the Rutba House in Durham, NC, where he also directs the School for Conversion (www.schoolforconversion.org). Jonathan works closely with the Rev. Dr. William J. Barber, II to spearhead The Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival. Jonathan's newest book is "Reconstructing the Gospel: Finding Freedom from Slaveholder Religion" (InterVarsity Press).

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