taking the words of Jesus seriously

The faith-based choice for president is the one who extends empathy to everyone across our states. 

Empathy, after all, is the value that Jesus lived and breathed. He saw throngs of people in his travels and “had compassion on them because they were harassed and helpless.” He said nations will be judged on how they treat “the least of these” in society—the poor, the hungry, the homeless, the strangers. 

Other faiths have commitments to empathy, too. But as voters, do we?

This election, we will find out. As an activist and former pastort, I believe the right candidate for Christians and other people of faith is a person who attempts to live out the faith virtues of kindness and compassion.

That should matter to Latinos especially as a community that is more collective than individualists. One that cares for family forever and where strangers become family over a cup of cafecito.  No human being should be easily dismissed, called names, or be stereotyped by people who have the power to form the opinion of others through media. Puerto Ricans and Mexicans may have memories of such things.

Cuban Americans, for their part, know as well as anyone about the danger of a leader who tries to undermine elections, muses about becoming a dictator, demonizes asylum seekers and won’t commit to a peaceful transition if he loses. We cannot give up the American way. Albeit far from perfect but still narrowly a democracy.

How is caging migrant children and rejecting America’s history as a nation of immigrants, a good thing for a great America?

America needs a President who will have an approach of inclusivity and caring for all people. One who also believes that the success of America involves the embrace of the diversity of America.   

We need a President who cares about a $15 minimum wage, expanding childcare, and ensuring universal access to pre-K; actual policies that show that people without money matter, too.

We need a President who will fund programs for entrepreneurs of color, including small business funding for Latinos and commit to breaking down the barriers often faced by women of color in small businesses.  

We need a President who trusts science, has plans to combat climate chaos and invest in clean energy jobs, shows he cares about communities  that stand to suffer the most.  

READ: Love for Enemies

We need a President who puts people on the same plane as profits and if necessary over it. Who has a plan to battle COVID-19 quickly especially in communities that are showing the disparate harms Black and Brown lives are facing.  Who cares about healing—both physically and across ethnic barriers.

We need a President who values all voices, not just some voices with the biggest bank accounts. 

We need to think long and hard about the President that can bring about the quickest and most compassionate change in our country. Because regardless of our ethnic background, we all know deep in our hearts that we’re more than flesh and blood. We have something in us that is divine. But here’s the reality: we’ll never be able to manifest that part of us fully without a society that encourages us to live lives of empathy. 

That includes how we vote. 

When considering these things, the choice is before us: crueler or kinder?  Voting is always a mixed bag because no candidate fits our values 100 percent. But I believe most people know what kind of world they want to live in. 

About The Author


Rev. Dr. Elizabeth Rios is the founder of Passion2Plant, which trains pastors to start justice-oriented churches, and the Passion Center, a faith community and training center with a mission to follow Jesus, love people and pursue justice.

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