Dear Family in Christ,
We are living in perilous times. This year has brought unprecedented levels of stress and challenge to our already struggling democracy. We have seen almost 220,000 people in our country die from covid-19. We have seen national outcry against racism and police brutality and a loss of trust in our justice system. We are encountering the erosion of civility and decency in political discourse, coupled with the rise of propaganda and conspiracy theories, which makes us suspicious of anybody who claims a truth that does not match the one we desire.
Our communities are feeling weary- emotionally, mentally, physically, spiritually. And we all feel it.
In the last couple months, with the elections drawing near, I have spent intentional time trying to listen to your voices. As somebody who has found both the personhood and the policies of Trump to be extremely troubling, I have tried to extend empathy and understanding to you and understand how you- a fellow sibling in Christ- could so unwaveringly support a man I believe is inciting violence and hatred in our country, encouraging bullying and dehumanization, and undermining our democracy on every level.
As I’ve tried to listen to your voices and hear your stories, I can sense the urgency and desperation you feel to preserve what you find to be the beauty, and even God-ordained destiny, of America. You find abortion to be murder, and Roe v. Wade to enact a form of genocide- a genocide that you have a moral obligation to end. You feel that the Church is under attack, and want to preserve the right to individual and religious liberty- to express freely what you believe without fearing persecution, to not be labeled a bigot or racist simply for saying something politically incorrect. You want to preserve your own worldview, even your own Christian convictions, around issues such as marriage, sexuality, gender identity, and guns. You want to live in an economy that is working for you, which you believe will happen with lower taxes and less government interference in our free market. You believe in the rule of law and the Constitution, and trust our police and our courts to uphold that law in a fair, just, and unbiased way. You believe in the greatness of America and the power of the American military to secure peace in the world, and feel that these forces are under siege. And while you may not always be a fan of Trump’s personality, you are generally supportive of his platform and his policy.
You certainly have a right to hold these views and may even find them to stem from your faith.
The problem is, that for so many of the people in your life- including people like me- the greatness and liberty that you long to preserve has a cost. And all of the desires that you have, while potentially beneficial to you and people like you, may also cause great harm to others in your life. In trying to preserve a way of life for yourself, you may be stripping other people of their God-given dignity and value. People who have real names and real stories. People who may have different life experiences than you. People like me and my family.
The greatness that you so laud and hope to return to, has always been upheld by committing physical, social, and economic violence against certain people in our nation. And the liberty you so cherish has always come at the oppression of the most vulnerable in our society. While your vote is based on a desire to preserve life, I believe you are supporting a man who’s policies and personhood continually demean and devalue human life- especially the lives of the most vulnerable.
So I want to share what your views mean for us.
As we get ready to vote, I want to ask you to take a moment to consider me and my family- your fellow siblings in Christ. I hope that you will consider the ways that a vote for Trump severely threatens the dignity and well-being of me, my husband, my daughters, and loved ones in my life:
- Your vote for Trump means that my interracial family has to make safety plans for ourselves after the election, literally in fear for our physical safety due to all the unbridled terrorism of white nationalism that has been enabled throughout Trump’s leadership, and because of explicit calls to arms that he and his supporters have made in the face of this election. It means being on guard as domestic terrorism is on the rise and fearing for what will be unleased with 4 more years of Trump’s leadership.
- Your vote for Trump means that we, alongside other local clergy, need to talk about how to protect our places of worship from expressions of white supremacy and hate. We have already experienced Black church burnings, racist graffiti at Black churches, and defamation of synagogues and public spaces with Nazi symbols, the increase in effigies and nooses being found in public spaces, and I fear things will only get worse. San Leandro recently had incidents of Nazi symbols being painted on public properties, so this is a real, concrete concern.
- Your vote for Trump means that our voting rights, and the voting rights of my Black family members in places like LA, West Virginia, and Ohio, are being actively suppressed by and undermined by an Administration that has waged war on our elections process and challenged a peaceful transfer of power. People should not be waiting 12 hours to vote, in 2020.
- Your vote for Trump means that me and my daughters, could one day lose agency over our bodies when it comes to issues of pregnancy and prenatal health. It means that women everywhere may be on a path to losing our own freedom to make informed, responsible decisions about highly complex and nuanced matters that affect our own bodies, our health, our fertility, our futures, and our families. While I certainly want to see an end to abortion, I do not believe the way to accomplish that is by stripping women of the right to control their bodies. Can you imagine the outrcy if we tried to end abortion by forcing men to get surgeries or medical procedures?
- Your vote for Trump means that friends like A.T. or G.A. in my life, who came here as asylum seekers and refugees and have been able to build a life here as productive community members, would have likely been denied entry in this country, and that they might not even be alive today due to the gang violence and religious persecution they were facing in their home countries. It means supporting an administration that explicitly advocated for the separation of children from their parents, which I believe is a grave evil.
- Your vote for Trump means that many dear friends and even members and clergy in our own denomination who are in same sex marriages, could lose the legal protections and privileges afforded them and be criminalized for who they love. You may not have the same religious views on marriage as them, but should they really be denied equal protection under the law?
- Your vote for Trump means that loved ones in my life, who have preexisting health conditions, could potentially be denied access to health care with a repeal of the Affordable Care Act. And it means the continued downplaying and denial of a global pandemic that has killed nearly 220,000 Americans- people we know, including family members and loved ones of those in our congregation.
- Your vote for Trump means that my daughter, ages 3 and 1, will be growing up in a world that is denying human-made climate change, despite 33 trillion tons of ice melting on the face of the earth in the last 2 decades, record-setting temperatures, rising sea levels, the devastation of the Great Barrier Reef, increased environmental catastrophes and more. It means explicitly choosing policies that protect corporate profit while harming the earth God called us to steward, and the reversal of significant environmental protections, which will only cause them to suffer later down the road.
- Your vote for Trump means that people of color living in America, will be living under an administration that actively denies our nation’s racist history, makes it illegal for organizations to run trainings that discuss white privilege or male privilege, and perpetuates narratives of violence, supremacy, and even eugenics in our society. It means that people like me and my husband feel unsafe to share our own experiences of racism and discrimination, despite the ways that we face it in concrete ways every single day.
So please, when you consider your vote this year, consider the call of Christ to “love your neighbor as yourself” and actually consider the consequences of 4 more years of Trump on the rights and liberties of ALL your neighbors, not just yourself.
Ultimately, you may not agree with me on political matters, think that I am overreacting, or brainwashed by the “fake news” or the “Radical Left.” Maybe you think abortion is such an important issue, that it overshadows everything else (to which I would say, being pro-life means not just ending abortions, but also creating the kind of world that those babies can thrive in). But I think we both hold on to the belief that what makes America great is that it was founded on the principle that all people in this country- from the unborn to the elderly- should be able to live without threat of violence, oppression, and terror, and that their rights should be upheld.
I can tell you that my vote against Trump doesn’t mean I am a baby-killer, Marxist, cop-hater, or atheist who just wants to see our country become pushed into Socialism. It also does not mean that I think that the Democratic Party is doing a great job or that Joe Biden is going to save our country.
But I vote based on the founding principles of this nation- that the government must secure the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness for all people- not just people who are like me- and that forms of government that become destructive of these ends must be altered or abolished. To me, a vote for Trump is to vote for the ongoing destruction of the physical safety, civil liberties, and human rights of many, especially the most vulnerable in our communities.
So I plead to you to consider: Do you see how a Trump presidency actually erodes the rights of many in this country, though maybe not your own? And if you vote for Trump, which you are entitled to do, what will you do to continue to protect the well being of me, my family, and my loved ones under his leadership?
The Jesus I worship modeled for us a way of justice, righteousness, and shalom. He modeled a way of self-giving love. He emptied himself, laid down his right to power and domination for the sake of loving us sacrificially, as an expression of grace and love. He fought for the dignity and healing of those on the margins, even when it broke religious tradition and challenged political powers. He called us to repent of our idols. He taught us that we cannot love both God and money. We cannot worship both him and Caesar. We cannot be allegiant to the Church and also to the Empire.
If we are worshiping the same Jesus, I hope that you will consider my pleas today. It may not change your vote, but I hope that these words will at least impact your conscience.
Know that as your fellow sibling in Christ, I am holding you accountable, and so is Jesus.