Christians urged to show grace postelection

Christians urged to show grace postelection

By Maggie Walsh

The Alabama Baptist

This presidential election has been perhaps the most inflammatory in history. In the days, hours and minutes leading up to the announcement of reality TV star turned politician Donald Trump as this nation’s president-elect, Facebook and Twitter feeds were filled with stinging commentary flying both ways.

And now, in the hours, days and weeks following the announcement, many evangelical leaders are urging Christians to pray for their next president while showing grace to their fellow voter, which may require some to step away from the keyboard.

Much of the dissention comes from Christians asking one another, “How could you vote for Trump?” or “How could you vote for Hillary Clinton?”

Demographically, Pew Research Center found that most weekly churchgoers voted for Trump over Clinton, 56 percent to 40 percent. And 8 in 10 self-
identified white, born-again/evangelical Christians — Protestants, Mormons, Catholics and others — say they voted for Trump.

Scott McConnell, executive director of LifeWay Research, summarized the exit polling down to this: “White Americans with evangelical beliefs favored Trump, as did Republicans with evangelical beliefs. African-Americans, Asian-Americans and Latino Americans with evangelical beliefs favored Clinton, as did Democrats with evangelical beliefs.”

‘Deeply entrenched’

The extreme divide and passionate opposition on both sides prompted anti-Trump riots in major cities after the election results were announced. The protests took place despite pleas by Clinton and President Barack Obama for good sportsmanlike behavior.

“These divides are powerful in America today and they are deeply entrenched in the Church,” McConnell said.

And these divides are what evangelical leaders are speaking into.

President of the Southern Baptist Convention and former Alabama Baptist pastor Steve Gaines said there is a right way and a wrong way to disagree with someone.

“If we disagree with someone’s opinions, we must do so without attacking the person. There has been far too much inflammatory rhetoric coming from Christian leaders throughout this election. That kind of speech is divisive, ungodly, uncalled for and sinful,” Gaines said.

‘Don’t assume’

Along the same vein, J.D. Greear, pastor of The Summit Church in the Raleigh-Durham, North Carolina, area, wrote in a blog post, “Don’t assume that fellow believers who voted for Trump did so because they are utterly insensitive to minority struggles or unconcerned about misogyny, xenophobia, or sexual assault.

“In the same way, don’t assume that those who voted for Clinton (or didn’t vote for either) are naïve about the threats to religious liberty or too cowardly to oppose abortion,” Greear wrote.

“(Instead) be humble and charitable enough to realize that many mature Christians came to different conclusions about what the right posture was, and give them the benefit of the doubt,” he wrote. “You don’t have to agree with their conclusions, but in the Church we can and must demonstrate a humility, forbearance and civility usually absent from public discourse.”

Regardless of who a Christian voted for, the culture we live in is a messy place and an individual’s perspective may land them in a different camp than you. Boiled down — it’s complicated, said Mark Galli, editor-in-chief for Christianity Today.

‘Make space’

“For the most part, evangelical Christians on the left and right are simply trying to navigate the very complex relationship of faith and politics, and where they end up doesn’t always look pretty,” Galli said.

“Perhaps we can make space for those with whom we disagree, while continuing to champion the causes we believe further justice.” (BP contributed)