How Christians vote: Stick it to Hillary, or WWJD?

1431868085175Someone recently shared this article from the Washington Post on Facebook, with the additional commentary:

“This is why (so-called) progressive Christians shouldn’t scratch their heads wondering how so many Christians voted for the Donald. They did so, possibly and for some definitely, because the enemy of their enemy seemed a friend.

I neither voted for Trump nor believe in eternal hell, but increasingly the left is an inhospitable place for Christians.”

Since I’m one of those progressives (maybe?) scratching my head, I creepily followed the discussion thread, trying to understand.

It’s an interesting response to have, given that the Washington Post piece was about whether one’s religious beliefs should disqualify them from working in government. Michael Gerson rightly points out that such a question is in dangerous violation of the Constitution; an infringement upon religious freedom.

I love this line in particular: “A pluralism too weak to protect Christian believers is too weak to protect Muslim believers, and vice versa. And both have the right to think they are right.” A person’s heavenly status, or lack thereof, should not influence the kind of treatment they receive here in America, where separation of church and state exists to protect the rights of all religious groups – Christians included.

I found the Facebook commentary interesting, even if it deviated from the points made in the WaPo piece. I do believe Sanders’ questioning was out of line, though I think I can understand where his concern was coming from. Sanders’ ultimate misunderstanding was how Christian theology works, but he wasn’t wrong to be concerned about how a person’s faith might affect his or her ability to do their job (see Kim Davis). We should all be concerned about how our convictions lead us to treat those who do not share them.

But this example of ‘persecution’ as justification for a Trump vote (and future Trump 2020 vote) makes no sense to me. It really sounds like a ‘revenge vote’ – a ‘stick it to Hillary’ response, which does not seem Christ-like to me at all.

When did choosing a president become about making a statement to the ‘other side,’ as opposed to choosing the most qualified candidate to lead the country? Someone who will do their best to improve quality of life for the average American? Or am I totally naive? The Trump/Hillary election is only the third one I’ve been eligible to participate in, and admittedly, I did not have much interest in politics before voting for Obama in 2008.

It’s hard to build a case to argue how Jesus would vote, and ultimately I think that debate would be fruitless. Yet Trump has been unusually consistent about ‘Making America Great’ for everyone who is white and rich. The theology of the GOP is a prosperity-based theology that punishes the poor for being poor. This is not exactly new.

If we’re going to apply Jesus’ words to American politics, I see more willingness to do something about poverty (a social issue that Jesus talked about frequently) coming from the left than from the right, which seems a little preoccupied with gay marriage and abortion as ultimate society wreckers.

But please, correct me if I’ve misunderstood.

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About Beth Caplin

Just an author, blogger, and editor working hard so my cats can have a better life.
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8 Responses to How Christians vote: Stick it to Hillary, or WWJD?

  1. Someone who will do their best to improve quality of life for the average American?

    This makes me nervous as well, as many Trump supporters think thay Trump is that guy, and many use the phrase “average American” as an anti-intellectual statement. Plus, it is used by xenophobes as a justification for anti-immigrant statement. Also, 94% of humanity is not American.

    So, I say, instead of “average American”, who will improve the quality of life for every human being?

    Like

  2. Speaking as an atheist, the issue is who’s claimed ownership of Christianity. And, in America, that’s white Evangelicals. Okay, they might not have total ownership, but they’re close and they’re more than willing to No True Christian the rest of you out of the running.

    They’re close, they’re privileged, they’re finding a world that doesn’t privilege them as much as it used to, and they’re afraid. Like the bully who only finds the consequences wrong, you stand up to them and they actually respond as though continuing to beat you up is a moral cause.

    In order for a Christian to find the left to be an inviting place, said Christian has to grow comfortable with the idea that non-Christians count every bit as much as they do.

    One of the commentators on, I believe, CNN described the election of Trump as a “Whitelash”, a backlash against advances by black people. That’s certainly an element, other elements do include other forms of conservative backlash against the fact that liberals have ever won… ever.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Christy Lambertson says:

    This “the left is hostile to Christians” line of thought annoys me. There are PLENTY of Christians on the left – they just aren’t white evangelicals. 75% of non-white Catholics voted for Clinton, and she narrowly won the Catholic vote, as did Obama. 88% of Black Protestants vote Democrat. A substantial minority – about 37% – of white mainline Protestants and white Catholics voted for Clinton. 50% of Democratic/Dem leaning voters are Christian. I’d say that the left IS hostile to white evangelicals, but given that white evangelicals disagree with virtually everything the left wants to accomplish, that isn’t surprising.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Random (Former) Methodist Reader says:

    Quote: “If we’re going to apply Jesus’ words to American politics, I see more willingness to do something about poverty (a social issue that Jesus talked about frequently) coming from the left than from the right, which seems a little preoccupied with gay marriage and abortion as ultimate society wreckers.

    But please, correct me if I’ve misunderstood.”

    That’s the way it looks to me as well.

    Like

  5. bobcabkings says:

    Reblogged this on cabbagesandkings524 and commented:
    Sarahbeth writes on the intersection of religion and politics. Discussion will likely ensue.

    Like

  6. bobcabkings says:

    Anyone who starts from the position of, “Only the particular religious sect (or political party) to which I belong has the whole truth, and the whole community should be governed by its belief system.” is virtually certain to feel “oppressed” when that is not the case, or when the standards of civil behavior in the public square conflict with that belief. As for voting, people may at least as often and not vote against someone as for someone.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Beroli says:

    Hm…

    I don’t think “increasingly the left is an inhospitable place for Christians” is necessarily wrong, depending on what level of “you are absolutely the default!” one considers to be part of hospitality. If someone defines the most hospitable place for Christians as one where it’s perfectly normal and acceptable to say that atheists shouldn’t be considered citizens, an other-party president is invalid because he’s secretly a Muslim, etc., that person is indeed likely to find far more hope for such hospitality on the right.

    Like

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