"How can an Evangelical Christian vote for Barack Obama?" I've been asked.
How can an Evangelical Christian vote for anyone else? That is my honest response. While I will not, as some in the Christian Right have done, attempt to manipulate by suggesting that a vote for any candidate but my own is "sin," I will say that it is less than sensible or visionary in my opinion to fail to vote for Barack Obama.
Barack Obama is a self-professed life-long Christian (despite the hateful emails lying about his involvement with Islam and slandering his real Christian beliefs). He offers something we have not seen before in my lifetime, and perhaps in American history. In fact, he offers a number of somethings.
* He is liberal, but in a maverick, populist vein. That is, he views governing as a common task between the American People and those they elect. Rather than a "let me do that for you" approach, he over and over again has said that this election is not about him -- it is about us regaining control of and responsibility for our nation's direction.
* He expects to make mistakes. Unlike his Democratic opponent, and certainly unlike the current disastrous administration, Barack Obama is a realist about the complexity of governing and of human limitations. This makes him vulnerable to critique among some camps, but from a Christian point of view smells a lot like humility. God knows the White House needs some of that!
* He has energized an entire generation of young people in a way so unique and unprecedented the full implications of it are yet to be felt, even though they already have effectively assured him of the Democratic nomination and quite likely the Presidency. This "movement" quality to his campaign should not be lost on observers. While movements are, historically speaking, fragile, they also are often huge catalysts for change. Which brings up...
* Change. Change, admittedly, is a slippery word. George Bush and Karl Rove brought change... and it just about has wrecked us, economically, militarily, reputation-wise in the world, and spiritually/emotionally at home. That's one kind of change. But Barack Obama's campaign -- and only his campaign -- discovered the tremendous tension caused by the political split in America engineered by (more than anyone else) the previously-mentioned Karl Rove. Obama's message? We can move past that divide, finding a new center, a place where in this pluralistic democracy we can still become one people.
* Obama as a pastor / inspiration / fire-bringer has revealed in himself a type of leader we have not had often in this nation. Hillary Clinton's sturdy yet predictable "fighting" stance alienates, even though I like her personally and (had not Obama appeared) have backed her. But she has none of Obama's hope, choosing instead to cynically mock him and it as "words." We Christians are people of the Word, and know well just how far-reaching and life-changing words can be and have been to us.
* Obama's specific platform is one which many Christians, esp. those influenced greatly by Matthew 25:36-41, will resonate with. The afore-mentioned passage ends this way: "And the king will answer them, 'Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.'"
* Barack Obama's optimism will be tested, has been already in fact. But his faith in Christ, to which he has borne explicit allegiance repeatedly, is built on a firm foundation.
* Oh, and yes, Barack is a man of darker persuasion, skin-tone wise. As a biracial individual, he is also more aware of what it takes to function in a pluralist world than many of us are. The fact that he will make history as the first non-Caucasian President is intriguing, but on its own meaningless. Why it has meaning is because of who he, the individual, is. A man of uncommon wisdom, unusual discernment (witnessed to by his persistent resistance to the Iraq War when others in his own party okayed that disaster), and singular skills both as a vision-bringer and as a grassroots organizer, he may be as close to a great leader as we'll ever find in these usually visionless times.
* But what about... oh, yes, there are issues we will disagree with Barack and with most Democrats on. But I suggest those issues have been treated cynically to get votes by Karl Rove and company. And it may be time to craft a whole different approach to such issues which consists less of attempting a legislative solution and more of bridge-building to find common ways to resolve them.
* Finally, Hope... this is the issue that Hillary and others mock. Yet it is precisely what we want from a candidate. Barack calls it "the audacity of hope." Again, isn't that a biblical theme? As long as we don't mistake this present world for a future Kingdom, can we really go wrong by exercising hope in a world with so little of it?
Conclusion: Change happens not just with one man, but rather with many women and men working together, infused with a sense of hope and of purpose, and guided by principles which are mutually respectful and even self-sacrificing. Barack Obama has promised us all that in order to move America ahead as well as to provide for the weakest and least among us, we will all have to sacrifice. If that is not something deeply reflective of the Christian love (agape), I'm not sure what Christianity is.
Jon's facebook group "Evangelicals for Obama" (hunt for it/me when you're in your facebook pages) also has a donation page -- goes directly to Barack's campaign, not through our fingers even!
Then, of course, there's the Barack Obama site, which the above photo if clicked also leads to...
Christianity Today also did an interview w/ Barack Obama a while back. The comments section is fairly vile in spots. (Ohmygawd Barack's middle name is Hussein! THE SKY IS FALLING! THE SKY IS FALLING!)
A 2006 Washington Post article discussing a speech by Obama on why Democrats could not, and should not, ignore evangelicals.
Sojo.net is a place where old fans of the Chicago Post-American can flaunt their bald spots. Hahaha! But really this is Sojourners magazine's site, a place where progressive evangelical voices -- some of them, anyway -- can be clearly heard and where a candidate roundtable featuring Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, and John Edwards offers views into their respective positions on faith, politics, and the intersection between the two.
Of course I expect a bit of flaming for posting this... this is BlueChristian! This post has been long in coming. I've procrastinated long enough. Who knows, maybe I'll be the single difference in Ohio and Texas and Vermont and Rhode Island tomorrow! (HA! Not likely, Trott... verrrrrry not likely.) Anyway...
Jon "Hussein" Trott
tag: jon trott obama, Christians for obama, evangelicals for obama, Obama Muslim, Obama ohio, Obama Rhode Island, Obama texas, Obama virginia