Evangelical Leaders React to the Election of Donald Trump

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  • This week, a divisive and unprecedented election season culminated in a win for Republican nominee Donald Trump. Exit polls reported that four out of five white voters who self-identified as “evangelical” voted for him. Following the election, CT surveyed the reactions of evangelical leaders.

    Responses are listed alphabetically.

    Matthew Lee Anderson: “I have not lost any of the skepticism”

    Founder of Mere Orthodoxy

    “As one who opposed both our major party candidates, I am glad that the campaign is over and hopeful that America will endure the four years ahead. … Yet while the hope I feel is real, I have not lost any of the skepticism I have frequently registered about the effects of a Trump presidency on evangelicalism, on racial minorities, and on America. That skepticism will not be alleviated for a long time to come.”

    Thabiti Anyabwile: “Now the work begins afresh”

    Pastor, Anacostia River Church, Washington, DC

    “I am doing well following the election. Our political process worked again, and that’s a blessing. The result is not what I wanted. Ideally, I longed for a way for both major party candidates to lose. And Mr. Trump’s election was, by a sliver, the worse possible outcome in my mind. But I’m confident in the goodness of God and his loving rule of all things. And I’m confident that my ministry of prayer for the president will produce more than all my political participation. Now the work begins afresh—on my knees and in continued engagement.”

    Barry C. Black: “Grateful, optimistic, and satisfied”

    Chaplain of the United States Senate

    “Donald Trump has been elected president of the United States, and I feel grateful, optimistic, and satisfied. I feel grateful because 1 Thessalonians 5:18 admonishes, ‘In everything give thanks, for this is the will of God concerning you in Christ Jesus.’ I feel optimistic because of Romans 8:28: ‘in everything God is working for the good of those who love him, who are the called according to his purposes.’ I also feel satisfied because Philippians 4:12 declares, ‘I have learned in every state to feel contentment.’ In short, after the election of any president, as a person of faith I know I have nothing to fear.”

    Jonathan Brooks: “I thought we had made progress”

    Senior pastor, Canaan Community Church, Chicago, Illinois

    “Donald Trump is our president and I am speechless. Deep down inside, despite what we have seen over that last few years, I thought we had made progress. I just knew that a blatant racist and accused misogynist could not be the leader of our country. But I was wrong! America proved that we care more about preserving a way of life that privileges a few than protecting the lives of our most marginalized.”

    Kathryn Freeman: “Reeling and still in shock”

    Director of public policy for the Christian Life Commission in Austin, Texas

    “I am reeling and still in shock. It has been disorienting to see so many evangelicals— including the ones who say they care about racial justice and esteem women—choose a candidate whose message and language was so demeaning and in some ways downright hateful to those groups. As an African American woman, I am particularly troubled and concerned. Yet, even in my sadness, I am hopeful that God will bring something beautiful from this feeling of brokenness.”

    Dominique Gilliard: “What did this communicate to the world about our God?”

    Executive pastor of New Hope Covenant Church in Oakland, California

    “Evangelical identity is rooted in Scripture. Scripture shapes our worldview, beliefs, and ethics. However, 81 percent of white evangelicals voted for Trump, whose campaign and lifestyle is antithetical to Scripture and the Kingdom of God. While Hillary was undoubtedly a flawed candidate, white evangelicals’ unprecedented supported of Trump—despite his racism, misogyny, and ethnocentrism—is revelatory, and deplorable. Did this bear witness to whiteness rather than the Gospel? What did this communicate to the world about our God?”

    Al Hsu: “I have to have hope”

    Author of Grieving a Suicide and The Suburban Christian

    “As a person of color, I’m feeling nervous and vulnerable. I am alarmed that ethnic minorities are already experiencing threats and abuse; even young children (who are American citizens) are being harassed and told to leave the country. Fear is so present. Yet I cling to this word: ‘Be not afraid.’ I have to have hope that the body of Christ will disavow hate, defend the vulnerable, and work together for the common good.”

    Peter Leithart: “Surprised to find myself relieved, grateful”

    President of the Theopolis Institute

    “What will Trump do? No one’s sure, including the president-elect. Those who fear a hard-right presidency can relax. The problem is different: Deal-master Trump may prove a chameleon, core-less rather than hardcore. More important is what he won’t do. Obama intended to arm the bureaucracy so Clinton could enforce the sexual revolution. Trump is sexually immoral, but he’ll probably guard religious freedom. For that, I woke up on November 9 surprised to find myself relieved, grateful.”

    Richard J. Mouw: “How do we talk together now?”

    President emeritus and professor of faith and public life, Fuller Theological Seminary, Pasadena, California

    “Given my political preferences, my feelings right now border on despair. But I also know that people whom I admire—even love—voted for Mr. Trump. How do we talk together now about the deeper issues without mutual accusations? What hopes and fears accompanied us into the voting booths? How do we love each other in continuing to work together in the service of the only true and righteous King?”

    Trillia Newbell: “This is our calling—to pray and to love our neighbors as ourselves”

    Director of Community Outreach, The Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC)

    “My heart is concerned for those who are marginalized in our society. I am praying that the church would prove to be uniquely different, a true city on a hill, in the coming days. I also pray that we will be united in prayer for our president-elect. This is our calling—to pray and to love our neighbors as ourselves.”

    Karen Swallow Prior: “The echo chamber won”

    Professor of English at Liberty University, Lynchburg, Virginia

    “This election was a referendum on the echo chamber, and the echo chamber won. We can choose now to retreat once again into those echo chambers or begin to listen more attentively to one another—to love our neighbors by learning about them and their needs and perspectives whether black, white, Asian, or Latino/a; whether Christian, Muslim, or none; whether upper, middle, or working class; whether voter or one of the nearly half of eligible voters that sat out this election. Following this election, I’m convinced that we don’t know our neighbors well enough to begin to truly love them.”

    Patricia Raybon: “Only God can heal us”

    Author of I Told the Mountain to Move, Undivided, and My First White Friend

    “I’m put off by white evangelicals who voted for a race-baiting, bigoted, body-shaming bully with questionable ethics and murky morals. I’m hurting over Christians who don’t care or refuse to see how Trump’s mendacity divided our nation. I’m dismayed at how little downright love white voters showed to Latinos, Muslims, the disabled, and others whom Trump mocked and ridiculed. And I’m heartbroken for our country. Only God can heal us. Let’s pray hard he will.”

    Samuel Rodriguez: “I feel both blessed and broken”

    President of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference

    “I feel both blessed and broken. The blessed sentiment arises out of the de facto assurance that the cause of life, and religious liberty, via a “rights”-affirming Supreme Court will stand protected. My brokenness emerges out of the reality that while the nation’s collective tapestry stands broken, the church is divided. A divided church will never heal a broken nation. More than ever we need John 17: ‘Lord, make us one.’”

    Gabriel Salguero: “We have work to do”

    President, National Latino Evangelical Coalition

    “This week I’ve read messages from some immigrants, women, and people of color in evangelical communities with profound sadness, and I’ve also heard from evangelicals who have celebrated the election results. I am the pastor of both groups. In my own church and coalition, this diverse response is a reality. With Secretary Clinton winning the popular vote and president-elect Trump winning the election, we have work to do. This means asking the difficult question asked by Dr. King—‘Where do we go from here: chaos or community?’ For me, Micah 6:8, Zechariah 7:9, and Isaiah 1:17 mean we need to balance our refusal to place Messianic expectations on political parties while engaging in Christian engagement that is transformative and just. Yes, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and yes, we cannot ignore our continued work of reconciliation, peace, and justice.”

    Scott Sauls: “Sobered but also hopeful”

    Pastor of Christ Presbyterian Church, Nashville

    “I am feeling sobered but also hopeful. Sobered, because we seem more divided than any other time I can remember. Hopeful, because this cultural moment presents the church with a unique opportunity to model justice, love, and unity across the lines of difference. If the church doesn’t take the lead, who will?”

    Justin Taylor: “We do not put our trust in such rulers”

    Author, blogger at The Gospel Coalition

    “I feel relief Hillary Clinton will never nominate a Supreme Court justice. I feel empathy for those evangelicals who voted for Trump on the calculus of the better of two bad choices, but I feel greatfrustration at evangelical leaders who excused his many sins, distorted the gospel, and tried to make a positive case for Trump’s virtues as commander in chief. I feel a deep sadness for our minority brothers and sisters who feel further alienation from white evangelicals who excused or ignored Trump’s racism and misogyny. Finally, I feel hope. We do not put our trust in such rulers, but in the reign of our Lord (Ps. 146), praying for our leaders so that we would be free to live peaceful, quiet, godly, dignified lives for the earthly and eternal good of our neighbors (1 Tim. 2:1-2).”

    Eric Teetsel: “With cautious optimism, I will wait”

    Political consultant

    “I decided not to support Trump despite the dire costs of a potential Clinton presidency. I’m relieved and grateful to God that we were spared her agenda. Now, with cautious optimism, I will wait to see if my concerns about Trump’s trustworthiness are unfounded. Rescinding President Obama’s contraception and transgender bathroom mandates, reinstating the Mexico City policy, and nominating a suitable replacement for Justice Scalia would be positive first steps.”

    Jemar Tisby: “I feel betrayed”

    Co-founder and president of the Reformed African American Network

    “Some polls estimate that 81 percent of white evangelicals voted for Donald Trump. As an African American who dedicates countless hours and vital energy to racial reconciliation, I feel betrayed. I mistakenly assumed that American Christians understood each other better across racial lines. This election has shown that we must abandon a feel-good reconciliation that merely adjusts the aesthetics or coddles our consciences. We must pursue robust reconciliation that entails sacrificially suffering with minorities and acting on their insights.”

    Sandra Maria Van Opstal: “How long, Lord?”

    Executive pastor of Grace and Peace Community, Chicago, Illinois

    “Give some of us the time we need to lament; it’s biblical! We need to ask God in worship, ‘How long, Lord?’ How long must we live in a country that continues in the idolatry of white supremacy and self-preservation? How long must we endure the racism and sexism that this president-elect has unleashed? As a pastor and neighbor to immigrants from many nations, I need space to lament with my community. I know Jesus is Lord, but he wants to hear our cry.”

    Jenny Yang: “There is an incredible opportunity for the church”

    Vice president of advocacy and policy, World Relief

    “Many people of color are feeling incredibly vulnerable at the prospect of a Trump presidency while trying to heal from the trauma of this past year. It is not easy to overlook such barbed attacks on your identity as immigrants, minorities, or the disabled. This difficult time, however, means there is an incredible opportunity for the church to stand in the gap and live out what we believe about the gospel to reach those who are hurting and on the margins.”

     

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