You are what you tweet
Conspiracy theories, fake news, memes — sometimes it can be…
Dan Sims, a member of the Caldwell Church of Christ in Idaho, supports President Donald Trump.
Jenna Howard, a member of the Heritage Church of Christ in Fort Worth, Texas, favors former Vice President Joe Biden.
Jared Randall, preacher for the Greater Portland Church of Christ in Maine, remains undecided.
But all three Christians agree on this: The race for the White House has become extremely divisive, sparking arguments among family, friends and fellow disciples of Jesus.
“On a scale of 1 to 10, it’s a 10,” Curt Morrow, a Trump backer and member of the Alum Creek Church of Christ in Lewis Center, Ohio, said of the political vitriol. “This is awful.”
Morrow’s concern was echoed by many of the 300 readers who responded to a recent online survey by The Christian Chronicle.
Related: You are what you tweet
Sims, who voted for Trump in 2016 and plans to do so again, said issues important to him include the freedoms of assembly and worship, economic growth and national security.
“My faith is primary,” said Sims, 57, who serves as a worship leader for his Idaho church. “I vote based on my faith, not necessarily a candidate’s faith.”
But Sims said he has family and friends who “believe supporting President Trump is supporting racism and hate.” Other family and friends “believe supporting Biden is un-American and un-Christian.”
“Social media has become an easy way to spew hate for the other side without having to talk face to face,” Sims said. “My advice … is to talk.
“Listen to each other. Embrace common ground. Be willing to change. Stay away from social media and text messaging. Be kind. Be a Christian.”
“Talk on the phone or in person,” he suggested. “Listen to each other. Embrace common ground. Be willing to change. Stay away from social media and text messaging. Be kind. Be a Christian.”
Howard, who used to vote primarily Republican, now considers herself a moderate Democrat.
The Texan cites morality, anti-racism, accountability in office and helping the marginalized as reasons why she will vote for Biden. She cast her ballot for Hillary Clinton four years ago.
“It’s important to try to approach conversations in a respectful and loving manner,” said Howard, 48, “but that is becoming more difficult every day.”
In her view, “Christianity should be separate from politics.”
Randall, an independent who did not vote in the 2016 election, said he looks at the moral character of the candidates. The New England minister voices concerns about both Trump and Biden.
“Understand Jesus as Lord of the universe and the church as his intended means of demonstrating his love and grace. The U.S. and its government are greatly secondary to this means and goal.”
His advice to fellow Christians?
“Understand Jesus as Lord of the universe and the church as his intended means of demonstrating his love and grace,” said Randall, 26. “The U.S. and its government are greatly secondary to this means and goal.
“Therefore, we can embrace our global church family tightly and hold our political commitments more loosely,” he added. “This gives room for grace and understanding in our divisive climate.”
Christians must first consider Jesus — not politics, said Valerie Cao, a member of the Grace Place Church of Christ in Duncanville, Texas.
“Are we more loyal to a political party than Jesus?” asked Cao, 37, an undecided voter whose husband, Hai, serves on the Grace Place ministry staff. “Are we adhering to his design and his rule (the Golden Rule) first? Does the Gospel shape your politics, your desires for this country and your words?
“Consider and share not only your stance on abortion, but your stance on love and mercy for the life of a grown man, broken and lost,” she advised. “Does Jesus love the immigrant? Does he still love the poor? Does he love the single mother, the addict?
“We live in a broken and sinful world. Are we arguing over laws while sitting at home keeping the Gospel safely tucked away from the broken?”
David Schwartz, an elder of the Herrin Church of Christ in Illinois, said it pains him to see Christians divide along partisan lines.
“We live in an era of shared posts and memes. Few bother to actually educate themselves on issues,” said Schwartz, a Trump supporter who lists religious freedom, individual liberty, sanctity of human life and national defense as important.
“I have strong political beliefs,” added the 56-year-old father, who has two adult children serving in the military, “but my love for my brothers and sisters in Christ transcends them. We should apply an Ephesians 4:29 test to all our communications, especially those that are exposed to a broader audience through social media.”
In that verse, the apostle Paul urges, “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.”
“I’ve encouraged our congregation to remember that our faith and hope are not in a political system or candidate.”
Chris Dunning, minister for the Newberg Church of Christ in Oregon, describes himself as an independent. He chose a third-party candidate in 2016 but plans to vote for Biden this time.
Issues important to the 36-year-old preacher include health care, student debt reform and humane treatment of immigrants and children.
“I’ve encouraged our congregation to remember that our faith and hope are not in a political system or candidate,” Dunning said. “If our test of commitment to one another is based on a political party, then we’ve substituted civil religion for faith in Christ.”
JuanRaymon Rubio, a member of the Nixon Bilingual Church of Christ in Texas, points to health care, taxes, COVID-19 and immigration reform as crucial issues.
The 27-year-old Democrat plans to vote for Biden.
“I don’t think it’s ever been this divisive,” Rubio said of the 2020 campaign. “I would suggest finding a common ground and always reminding the other that Jesus is King.
“It’s important also not to pass judgment no matter the political beliefs that one holds,” he added. “It is not OK to decide who gets eternal life based on political beliefs. God is the judge, and we serve him, not man.”
Politics is, by its nature, divisive, said Wallace Stott, an undecided voter and member of the Highland Church of Christ in Cordova, Tenn.
“If we all thought alike, we would be North Koreans,” said Stott, 68. “Have compassion and patience with people you disagree with. Unless they are firmly in Satan’s camp, there is no reason to completely turn your back on them. Pray for the ignorant, which also may include yourself at times.”
Trump may not be perfect, but Holli Potts-Boedeker, a member of the Memorial Church of Christ in Houston, believes God has used him for good.
Her approach to Biden supporters and anti-Trumpers?
She refuses to let politics damage her relationships with those she loves.
“Family lasts forever, and friends are hopefully for a lifetime,” said Potts-Boedeker, 54. “I just laugh and remind them that this is why we live in the greatest place on Earth, and my vote will cancel out their vote.
“It makes them laugh, and we agree to disagree.”
BOBBY ROSS JR. is Editor-in-Chief of The Christian Chronicle. Reach him at [email protected]
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