To my children:
Since your births, our country has had two presidents from different parties with very different ideas. You know from our conversations at the dinner table that I haven’t always agreed with either President Bush or President Obama, but I am grateful for the role models they have been to you and to kids everywhere. In their speech, personal conduct, and in their commitment to their families, both men have represented what is good and decent about our country.
Unfortunately, the same cannot be said about our next president. While I want you to honor Mr. Trump because of the office he will occupy, the last thing I want you to do is emulate him. Your mom and I have always taught you, “People are the most important thing because people are created in the image of God.” So I hope to never, never, discover you have teased a disabled person, disrespected a veteran, objectified a woman, discriminated against an immigrant, used racist language, devalued those of other faiths, or bullied anyone. Even as kids you already know such behavior is unacceptable and completely unchristian. Sadly, there are some adults who do not. So, pick your role models carefully.
To my Muslim neighbors:
I know you are worried, as your texts on election night revealed. You’re not only worried about what new policies President Trump might pursue, but also how his rhetoric is creating more Islamophobia and inciting those who seek your harm. You may not always feel welcome in our country, but you are always welcome in our house. In addition, I am absolutely committed to defending your right to worship freely and to live out your faith publicly. I am very aware that my religious freedom as a Christian requires an equal commitment to your religious freedom as Muslims. In this I will stand with you no matter what opposition I face even from my fellow Christians.
With good will,
To Christians who did not vote for Trump:
Despair is never an option for those who believe in the empty tomb. Neither is retreat. Nor is protesting in the streets with signs declaring: NOT MY PRESIDENT. Donald Trump is our president. We did not choose him—the majority of Americans did not choose him, but now that the polls have closed we have another choice to make.
Rather than escaping, despairing, or complaining, we can choose what we did not choose. We can choose to accept this time and this place as our calling from God—our vocation as his people. We can choose President Trump, his supporters, our neighbors, and our fellow citizens and embrace them with the dignity of our love and prayers, understanding that to embrace is not the same as to endorse. Jesus embraced sinful and unjust people—people unlike himself. He chose to walk with them, touch them, and invite them into his community, and not from a posture of self-righteous superiority but with humility and self-sacrifice, with empathy and understanding.
Because Jesus willingly chose this world and to dwell among us, to share in our frail humanity, he was also able to confront the injustice of this world and disarm the powers of darkness. Likewise, if we are to change Trump’s America we must first choose Trump’s America. This is now our calling in Christ.
To the label “Evangelical”:
There is so much to admire about you, your history, and the theology you represent. You mean “good news,” and came to identify a movement birthed by a commitment to the gospel, the euangelion, of Jesus Christ. Seventy years ago, those called “evangelicals” rejected the angry, condemning rhetoric of the fundamentalists, and they saw the error of theological liberalism that abandoned orthodoxy. They sought a third way that was culturally engaged and biblically faithful. I love that heritage.
But look at what you have become—little more than a political identity with a pinch of impotent cultural Christianity. You’ve become a category for pollsters rather than pastors, a word of exclusion rather than embrace. Yes, there are still godly, admirable leaders under your banner, but many are fleeing your camp to find a more Christ-honoring tribe. When more people associate you with a politics of hate than a gospel of love something is terribly wrong. I take no joy in saying it, but like Esau you have sold your birthright for a bowl of soup. You have exchanged the eternal riches of Christ to satisfy a carnal appetite for power.
In the past I willingly accepted your name as my own. I even worked for your flagship magazine. More recently I have avoided you because of your political and cultural baggage, but I’ve not objected when others identified me with you because your heritage was worth retaining. That passive acceptance is over now. What was admirable about your name has been buried, crushed under the weight of 60 million votes. I am no less committed to Christ, his gospel, and his church, but I can no longer be called an evangelical. Farewell, evangelicalism.