President-Elect Trump: A Response from ESA

By Ron Sider

What does Evangelicals for Social Action have to say about President-elect Trump?

First, we treasure American democracy and its precious history of peaceful transition of political power. And therefore we pledge to pray for President-elect Trump, and we will work with him whenever our principles align.

Second, ESA has, for decades, promoted a biblically-balanced, "completely pro-life" agenda: pro-life and pro-poor, pro-family and pro-racial justice, pro-peacemaking and pro-creation care. We believe this holistic agenda desperately needs vigorous voices that will challenge President Trump whenever he promotes policies that neglect the poor and favor the rich, disrespect women, neglect racial and religious minorities, and fail to protect the environment. Now more than ever, the nation needs evangelical Christians who vigorously work for racial, gender, and economic justice and help our fragile planet avoid dangerous global warming.

Third, ESA will vigorously challenge the larger evangelical world to deal with the fact that it is now publically and intimately identified with a political campaign that denied the science of global warming, tolerated and even appealed to racism, promoted lies (e.g. denying that President Obama is a U.S. citizen), demonstrated despicable treatment of women and embraced economic policies that will overwhelmingly help the very rich. Increasingly, that is what "evangelical" means to large numbers of Americans. That agenda contradicts biblical teaching and leads many millennials to turn away from the evangelical church and even to reject Jesus. ESA intends to be a vigorous voice challenging the evangelical world to speak, live, and act in a way that clearly and explicitly challenges that kind of agenda, an agenda that is unchristian and moves people to reject our Lord and Savior.

We believe that now more than ever, we need a strong, articulate evangelical voice that promotes a biblically-balanced agenda. We lament, confess, and repent of our complicity with a culture that continually denies the full humanity of all of our citizens. We resist that culture, and will continue to work instead toward a culture where every one of God's children is respected and valued.

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Comment policy: ESA represents a wide variety of understandings and practices surrounding our shared Christian faith. The purpose of the ESA blog is to facilitate loving conversation; please know that individual authors do not speak for ESA as a whole. Even if you don\'t see yourself or your experience reflected in something you read here, we invite you to experience it anyway, and see if God can meet you there. What can take away from considering this point of view? What might you add? The comments section below is where you can share the answers to those questions, if you feel so moved. Please express your thoughts in ways that are constructive, purposeful, and respectful. Give those you disagree with the benefit of the doubt, and assume they are neither idiots nor evil. Name-calling, sweeping condemnations, and any other comments that suggest you have forgotten that we are all children of God will be deleted. Thank you!

12 Responses

  1. Dave Warkentin says:

    An excellent purpose statement in general. My only concern is that we as evangelicals (perhaps better label is Christ follower) in a desire to affect social change that fits with our biblical beliefs do not simply create another political entity that labels Christian in another way. Example….I fully support the clear biblically based social actions such as support for the poor etc. However, those areas that have become politically charged and driven by many forces such as climate change should be considered carefully before becoming a key "plank" in the social action agenda. I think we have plenty to do to work out the things Jesus was clear about.

    • Dean says:

      Thank you, Ron Sider for being a voice of patient but earnest wisdom. I was ready to give up the title "evangelical" after the election. But reading this and a piece in Christianity Today by editor Mark Galli helps. I can't say for sure that I'll hold onto the title "evangelical", but I'm at least praying about it.

  2. anonymous says:

    I like the idea of supporting others and praying for others, but the usage of Christian values should be based on His will done on Earth as it is in Heaven. I found this page on FB and got curious so I read the President-Elect Trump Response. I did not like the second line that implies that ESA will only pray for Trump when his principles align with ESA principles. I think the point to being a Christian is to pray for those who need it. Sorry but this struck a chord with me as being a very selfish statement based on desire and not representing of Christians. I would think he needs MORE prayer when his principals DON'T align with Christian evangelists.

    • Kristyn Komarnicki says:

      THANK YOU for pointing out that the second sentence could indeed imply that we will only pray for Trump when his values align with ours. That is not, in fact, the case, so we just made a change to reflect what was really meant. We've changed it from:
      "…we pledge to pray for President-elect Trump and work with him whenever our principles align" to "we pledge to pray for President-elect Trump, and we will work with him whenever our principles align."
      Thanks for your careful reading. We appreciate it!

  3. Sarah Johnson says:

    Thank you so much for saying this. I cringed when I read the words "pro-life" because it is so often used as a cover for other hateful policies that are anything but pro-life. It's very comforting to know that there are actual Christians out there that understand that pro-life should be about all lives, not just unborn fetuses who present no challenge to our deep, sinful biases. This election has been so disheartening, mostly because so many people have used Christianity as an explanation for why they voted for Trump. It makes me wonder how many of these same Christians would have supported the rise of Hitler because "God can use anyone" and they liked his economic plan. What a disaster. It made me start to question the institution of Christianity in this country. Going to church and looking people in the face has become downright difficult. It's nice to know that someone out there gets it. It gives me a little hope. Thank you for speaking out.

    • Neil D says:

      Surely unborn fetuses are lives that Christians ought to protect. But you're right. Abortion is not the only pro-life issue.

      I don't think Trump is a Christian (neither was Hitler), but I don't think he's another Hitler either. He wasn't my first choice, but I went with him in the primaries and the election. The whole thing about him being racist, sexist, and whatnot I think is a big misunderstanding, and I'd blame the media for that. The media really did curve it against him.

      Even though Trump is not really spiritual, the apostles and prophets in the Bible probably would have said a lot of things that would have been politically incorrect and make many of us feel uncomfortable. And they got martyred for it. And yes, God can use anyone, but that does not mean he will use everyone.

      You don't have to be a Trump supporter, and I do not blame anyone who does not like him. But I do think people are not really putting themselves in his shoes.

      I'm sorry to hear of your hardships in facing people in the church, and I'm glad that you have some hope now. Remember that nobody is perfect, and let me further encourage you in your faith in Jesus Christ, and that He further transforms your heart, mind, and soul, and gives you strength.

  4. Ken says:

    I am a Christian Evangelistic Assistant Pastor and I voted for what I decided was the only Christian response-Donald Trump. You've got to remember we are not voting for a pastor, but a business man to lead our county in conservative Judo-Christian policies. Did you really want Hillary Clinton and the liberal left appointing Supreme Court justices that will affect our country for the next 40 years? Mr. Trump is anti abortion, believes in the sanctity of marriage being between only a man and a woman as God intended and is also pro Israel, promising to move our Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem to recognize the true God-ordained capital of Israel. I don't think there was any other course to take for the true Christian–and it sure wasn't the liberal left. Let's make America great again with Godly principals that seem to have been forgotten in our present society! Pray for President Trump and pray for the peace of Israel.

  5. Neil D says:

    I greatly appreciate your conservatism on moral issues and caring for the poor (though I'm against government welfare), the environment (though I'm a climate change skeptic), and for the family. I am also glad you are for the most part willing to pray for and work with a candidate who you disagree with, and that you are respectful in that. I know you are not being malicious or stupid in this.

    But I cannot help but believe you are misled on Trump. He is not a racist or sexist as the media portrays him. The media has been heavily biased against him as a non-establishment candidate and has distorted what he has really said.

    Originally, Trump said that we got to make sure that people, including Mexicans, do not come over here illegally, and that criminals were not coming here. But then the media spun it and claimed he was racist against Mexicans, believing they are all criminals. That's a hasty generalization, and a serious distortion. Trump even said he's fine with immigrants coming over, but they got to come legally. But many people ignore this statement. He actually did better among Hispanics and other minorities than Romney did.

    Also, Trump heavily stressed that he thought Saddam Hussein was a horrible man (even though he, unlike Hillary, did not support the war on Iraq, contrary to what the media claims), but appreciated that he killed the terrorists. Then the media twisted his words and claimed he liked Saddam Hussein. Even more ironic is that they claimed Trump supported the war on Iraq instead of Hillary, a total 180 on their narrative.

    And then Trump is supposedly "anti-women" because he quarreled with individual people who happened to be women who attacked him first. In no way do I defend him for his talk in the locker room, that one tape, but I don't think he was being serious. He himself apologized in the second debate for it. Nonetheless, unlike Bill Clinton, Trump has never actually sexually assaulted or raped anyone.

    No doubt Trump is not perfect, and I don't think he's a Christian. He was not my first choice. But at the same time, he really not as much trouble as a lot of people think. Hillary, meanwhile, was a criminal who endangered national security with her email scandal and she left Americans behind in Benghazi. I personally do not think that someone with that record should have even been allowed to run.

    Hopefully we can end this divisiveness, and be united together in Christ and on the principles of the Bible.

  6. Pam Dahl says:

    I am a Christian, and Trump scares me because of his attitudes towards Women and the Environment!

  7. Ron Mitchell says:

    Thank you for this as I believe God has allowed our current situation to reorient evangelicals who seek to be faithful. We need prayer – not for our politics or candidate to prevail – but so we will be faithful. We now have an opportunity for serious reflection on Scripture and our social engagement. We should listen to the global Evangelical community who have coined "ideo-evangelicals" in describing white Evangelicals here who uncritically accept right-wing Republican politics. Becoming a Christ-centered, biblically-based, Christian counter-culture and living the Sermon on the Mount is our calling.

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