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Editor’s Note: This is a guest post from a friend, fellow church member, and leader at Anacostia River Church, Nick Rodriguez. By day, Nick works in education policy and reform. But he’s a full-time husband and father who loves the Lord Jesus Christ. The views expressed here are Nick’s. They do not represent the views of Anacostia River Church or The Gospel Coalition. If interested in more of my personal views on this topic, see here and here.

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Clinton, Trump pick up big wins

Last week, Donald Trump officially secured the number of delegates needed to win the Republican nomination for president. And while it’s not quite over on the Democratic side of the race, Hillary Clinton is overwhelmingly likely to be that party’s nominee.

Trump’s nomination has presented evangelical Christians with a difficult choice: support Trump, support Hillary Clinton, vote for a third alternative who is unlikely to win, or don’t vote at all. To their credit, many evangelical leaders have ruled out that first option – they recognize just what an unacceptable candidate Trump is and what harm he would do to our country as president.

But these same leaders are divided on what the alternative should be. Some believe that while Trump would be bad, Hillary would be just as bad (or close enough that it doesn’t really matter). So they counsel no vote, or a vote for a third party. Others are undecided. But a very small minority, including my host on this blog, have decided (at least for now) to vote for Hillary.

I’m writing this post in Thabiti’s space both to add my voice to his and to make a claim that goes a little further: I think that evangelical leaders – in particular, conservative evangelical leaders – need to use all the influence God has given them to encourage thinking Christians to vote for Hillary Clinton. No dithering; no qualifications. The stakes are simply too high.

Let me back up for a moment and share a little bit about where I’m coming from. I’m a member of Thabiti’s church and a person of color. I’m also a lifelong Democrat. I became a believer just over 10 years ago, and while my views on life and marriage changed, most of the rest of my political beliefs – which align with those of the Democratic party – did not. So my voting behavior stayed the same, even after my conversion.

That was about to change with this election. Over the course of years and conversations with Christian friends who are active in politics, I became convicted that, for all my alignment with Democrats on other issues, a single issue – a Democrat’s endorsement of the right to kill unborn children – outweighed all the others. So I was getting ready to (reluctantly) pull the lever for Ted Cruz, or Marco Rubio, or Scott Walker, or whoever won the Republican nomination, this November. Then Donald Trump interrupted my plans.

You might be thinking that it’s easy for me to say this – after all, I’ve voted for Democrats all my life. Maybe Trump is just an excuse for me to keep doing the same? This is precisely the reason why conservative evangelical leaders need to be the ones making this case. And I’m here to try to convince you. So here are 6 reasons why you should encourage all of us to vote for Hillary this Fall.

  1. Every election is a choice between different evils.

This point has been made before, but I just want to make it again, in case any of us are laboring under the illusion that past endorsements of “traditional” candidates were morally uncomplicated choices. Exhibit A is the 2012 election: four years ago, most of you had no problem telling Christians to vote for an avowed leader of a false religion – a person who had dedicated a substantial portion of his life shepherding souls down a path that leads to hell. When you endorsed him, I know you weren’t endorsing that; you just had a common cause that was more important. The same is true with endorsing Hillary. You’re not endorsing her views on abortion (and you can make that clear); rather, you have a common cause with her that’s more important. Which brings me to…

  1. Trump may be an existential threat to the Republic.

Plenty of observers have noted Trump’s authoritarian rhetoric, his megalomania and narcissism, and the literal cult of personality he has built. And they have painted a picture of just how real the threat of Trump could be. Andrew Sullivan captures the image well in a recent essay in New York Magazine:

“Trump is not just a wacky politician of the far right, or a riveting television spectacle, or a Twitter phenom and bizarre working-class hero. He is not just another candidate to be parsed and analyzed by TV pundits in the same breath as all the others. In terms of our liberal democracy and constitutional order, Trump is an extinction-level event. It’s long past time we started treating him as such.”

Note that I didn’t say that Trump definitely is an existential threat. I don’t know that; nobody does. Hitler only rose to power because enough people believed that he wasn’t such a threat. There is no way of predicting in advance just how bad a President Trump would be. But if you’re an evangelical leader, this sets up a version of Pascal’s wager for you. If Trump turns out to be embarrassing but not all that bad, then your pride will suffer a bit, and you’ll have to say you were wrong to support Hillary. You’ll try to be wiser in the next election.

But if Trump turns out to be the “extinction-level event” that Sullivan predicts, and you fail to do everything in your power to stop him, then you will join a long line of evangelical leaders who have been on the wrong side of history – and judged harshly for it – at critical moments ranging from slavery to Jim Crow to abortion (in the early days of that debate). Your witness for Christ – our witness – will be diluted because we didn’t do everything we could to prevent this catastrophe. And there won’t be a next election to get it right.

  1. Trump is a threat to the unity of the church.

All of this is to say nothing of Trump’s racism and misogyny. As a person of color, I have to tell you that Trump gives me reason to fear for life and safety – for myself, for my mixed-race family, and for our immigrant parents – in a way that no political candidate ever has before. I hope that our conservative evangelical leaders, particularly those who are white, understand this: your stand against Trump, in solidarity with the people he hopes to marginalize, is critical to preventing that marginalization. If the movement against Trump is seen to be mostly a movement of people of color, then it will feed into the very narrative of white grievance that he thrives on.

I cannot speak for all believers of color, but I believe that many of us are remembering the evangelical church’s history on matters of race, looking to our leaders today, and hoping that this disappointing history does not repeat itself. Your actions to stop Trump should be so clear, so unequivocal, that you guarantee yourself a spot on Trump’s “enemies” list if he were to be elected president. Otherwise, the temptation to accommodate or to reconcile with a President Trump will be too strong for some of you in the aftermath of his election, and the church’s unity will suffer as a result.

Richard Nixon Eating with Zhou Enlai and Chang Chun-chiao

  1. You may think she’s terrible, but Hillary Clinton is a conventional Democrat.

All right, you might be thinking: Trump is bad, but isn’t Hillary just as bad? Isn’t her support for abortion alone equal to all of the terrible things I’ve just described?

Perhaps – and you might spend all of a Hillary Clinton presidency opposing everything she’s doing at the top of your lungs. But I’m pretty sure you’ll still be able to oppose her in the context of the democratic republic we live in, and that you’ll be able to work to unseat her in the next election if that’s what you want. I cannot say the same of Trump. Fighting to protect life is important – but, with a candidate like Trump in the mix, it’s more important to protect your ability to fight for life over the long term. Due to his marriage of convenience with the Republican party, you might get a Supreme Court justice or two out of a Trump presidency. But it’s a Faustian bargain – eventually, Trump will do whatever is best for him, including appointing judges who help him overturn rather than protect the current constitutional order.

Hillary Clinton may do bad things as president – but as Thabiti said, they will be predictable bad things, and things that you’ll be able to oppose vigorously and with a clear conscience after the threat of Trump is past.

  1. Yes, you should vote strategically.

The next objection is obvious: Can’t I keep my powder dry by not voting or by voting for a third party candidate? Do I really have to vote for Hillary? Can’t I just not vote for Trump?

I recently had a conversation with a dear brother of mine who had read the Andrew Sullivan piece and was contemplating its warning of an “extinction-level event.” I asked him if that meant he would vote for Hillary. “I’d rather not,” he said. “Maybe if the polls tighten, and it looks like Trump might win, I’ll vote for Hillary.”

The problem is that it’s exactly this kind of thinking, applied en masse, that could result in a Trump presidency. The primaries were conducted sequentially; over time, we came to accept that Trump was commanding plurality (and eventually majority) support from Republican voters as the results came in. But we didn’t believe it before the first votes were cast, and lots of pundits have egg on their face from having predicted that Trump would fizzle out.

The general election opens us up to an even worse version of this error. It’s a one-shot deal, without opportunities to learn lessons from prior elections. If the polls get it wrong and we’re complacent, we don’t get to correct the mistake. And in any case, why gamble with something so important? Suppose that Trump only has a 20% chance of winning. If we knew there was a 20% chance that our loved ones would die in November, would we spend the next six months comforting ourselves with the 80% chance that they won’t? No: we’d do whatever we could to change the odds. So, too, with voting for Hillary: the best way to use your vote against Trump is to vote for the next most likely person to win.

  1. It has to come from you.

I said at the beginning that I’m not a credible messenger for this argument. I’ve voted for Democrats all my life. It seems obvious that someone like me would take advantage of an opportunity to declare my support for the candidate I’m more culturally comfortable with.

This is why it has to come from you – particularly those of you who have vocally supported Republicans in the past and are likely to continue to do so in the future. Conservative evangelical voters have to hear that it’s OK to vote for Hillary – just this once – from a source that they trust. This is your Nixon to China moment: a chance to take an unlikely stand that will get people’s attention and have an impact on the outcome.

More generally, I’d encourage you to look inside your own heart and ask why it is that you’re reluctant to support Hillary. I understand that there are good reasons for that reluctance. But are some of the wrong reasons sprinkled in there as well? Have you, like me, voted for the same party for so long that it seems reflexively wrong to vote for someone from the other party? Do you fear how you might be judged by politically conservative colleagues and friends? Have you spent enough time in their company that you’ve been convinced that she’s not just wrong on an issue you care about, but a cartoon villain of a politician? For the last generation, political tribalism has placed most evangelical Christians on the red team. Is that fact clouding your view of what you need to do?

These barriers mirror the ones I had to overcome in deciding to change my vote this year (until Trump came along, that is). And they are the same barriers that many evangelical voters – your congregants – are struggling with right now as they consider whether to vote for Hillary. By taking a public stand, you can help them to overcome those barriers.

My hope is that I’ll be able to vote for a candidate who unambiguously protects life in 2020. But until then, I hope that Christians throughout this country will work together to protect us from the threat Trump represents. Our leaders can play a big role in giving us permission and guidance within the law to do this in a way that preserves our witness and honors Christ. And though we strive for a particular result, I pray that we would ultimately trust God with the outcome, and that we would glorify Him with our actions both before and after the coming election.


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Comments:


71 thoughts on “Evangelical Leaders: Tell Us to Vote for Clinton”

  1. I’ve heard intelligent arguments from Evangelical thinkers for both sides of the coin – why we should vote for Trump or Hilary – not as an endorsement of the candidate’s personal beliefs and values but for supporting greater causes, i.e. the pro life movement (could potentially benefit from conservative supreme court justices as a result of a Trump presidency) or in this case, democracy. It’s hard for me to tell whether or not the threat to democracy is being overstated here, although I certainly understand your concerns based on Trump’s character. Do the checks and balances of our current government system offer us any protection from this? It’s just so hard for me not to vote based on the effect a particular candidate would have on the pro life movement. Wouldn’t mind the Second Coming as a third option.

  2. Alan G. says:

    Well reasoned, and well stated, Brother. While I hear a lot of people discussing things in terms of “saving the Republic” with our vote, I don’t hear much discussion among Born-again Christians (in favor of or against any candidate) in which we acknowledge and assert loudly that it is not a “vote” that determines the “existence” or direction of any government system, but rather the sovereignty of the Almighty. What happens when we begin to ask the community, “What if God WANTS this Republic to dissolve? Why would that be, and what would His purpose be in this?” In that context, would we as Christians have a more powerful voice? To truly be “on the right side of History” is to be on the side of God. Have we conceived that the destruction of our beloved “Jerusalem” may be just what the Lord is ordaining? Do the prophets give any guidance for how we converse, live, and interact if God is ordaining this time as a time of “exile”?

    Please don’t hear me saying that I am against voting, or being involved in social issues. I’m just not hearing those things framed in the right context, much.

    In my pastoral ministry, I am not advocating ANY candidate, but am advocating just these types of open, prayerful discussions – in the context of God’s Sovereign Will. So this post is helpful. But I think we miss a HUGE Gospel opportunity if we don’t consider that – as the destruction of Jerusalem was unthinkable, but sovereignly unstoppable – our witness may be more about teaching The Bride how to be purified as exiles in a foreign land rather than assuming that a vote for Zedekiah to “rebel” or “not rebel” against our Babylon will change the course of events in any meaningful way. In this context of history, as blessed as we have been to live in such a wonderful Republic for so long, we may be fighting against God’s decree itself if our focus is to “preserve the Republic”.

    Ultimately, the Republic will not be saved by a vote for one candidate or another. The Republic may only be saved if born-again, Bible-believing Christians focus the discussion unrelentingly – yes, in the context of social issues and civic duty – on the King and our need for salvation. A Great Awakening of the Gospel will produce Disciples that will demand and vote for a better government. However, no party or political platform, or “lesser-of-evils” will save this Republic. It may be that Jesus wants this Republic to crumble for His Glory, and the purification of His Bride. We do well to consider that as citizens of a Better Country.

    Please hear me say that I am not disagreeing with anything you said, and I am seriously considering the thoughts you present and Thabiti has presented. I am just saddened that I hear so many people talking about the division of society, while presenting the “come-to-my-side” reasoning as the ultimate desirable solution instead of utilizing every discussion in EVERY personal conversation to, “Hillary or Trump is a secondary issue. Understanding you love the Republic, do you know the Sovereign King who rules all of this? Have you considered why He may be actually CAUSING the dissolution of this Republic to chasten you and bring you to repentance and trust in Him? Let me tell you about King Jesus and your need for Him. Let me walk with you through life as we discover His grace.” Not implying that you’re not having those conversations as well. I know that you are. Just lamenting that the Evangelical Community seems to be focused so intently on choosing which “Caesar to trust in more than the other one.” Julius Caesar or Brutus and Cassius, the Republic is dead. But the Gospel provides answers for those reeling from its collapse and the implications on their personal lives by giving Hope in the Eternal King. Unless I frame every discussion in that light, I have nothing to add that Sean Hannity or MIchael Moore are not already adding, am I?

    Many blessings.

  3. Doug McHone says:

    I’m disappointed. Not surprised. Just disappointed. I would think that such a long writing in a gospel based blog covering an important topic would include scriptural reasoning for your conclusions.

    Here’s mine:

    Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God.
    (Romans 13:1 ESV)

    If I’m reading this correctly, the eventual president of these United States of America will be installed, not because someone pulled this or that lever, but because God placed them in office. Agreed?

    So why are we debating whether we should join this or that faction with the intention of doing that which God says in His word that He will do? Side note: you can’t call yourself a complimentarian if you think the bride should be doing the task the bridegroom has stated is His.

    Christians can, and should, vote in elections. But we need to approach the exercise of freedoms the same way we approach all things. We vote to the glory of God. Agreed?

    So if you think you can vote for Hillary, Donald, or Gary Johnson and can do so in a God glorifying way, state your case. Convince me with the standard that we Christians claim is our final standard of life and worship. If you cannot do so, please do not include your schemes on a Gospel blog.

    Doing so is no more God honoring than a candidate who thinks Planned Parenthood is doing some pretty great things.

    1. Jeffery Hunt says:

      Amen. This comment makes me want to be in the same congregation as you ha!

    2. Wyatt Finn says:

      Well said. Thank you. Where’s the biblical warrant to vote for either candidate?

    3. Eric says:

      AMEN!!!!!! SAY THAT…lets run it back!!!

    4. BruceW says:

      >>If I’m reading this correctly, the eventual president of these United States of America will be installed, not because someone pulled this or that lever, but because God placed them in office. Agreed?

      >>So why are we debating whether we should join this or that faction with the intention of doing that which God says in His word that He will do? …

      >>Christians can, and should, vote in elections. But we need to approach the exercise of freedoms the same way we approach all things. We vote to the glory of God. Agreed?

      If I take the logic of the first 2 paragraphs to its end, if we lived in Germany in the 30’s we should not have opposed Hitler, as Christians. If we have two evils, and we the have the civic responsibility of the vote, we should keep the greater evil from gaining power. It is a bad choice, but by preventing the greater evil we vote to the glory of God.

      I don’t think the Bible requires tat we vote or exercise our civic rights. So we don;t have to vote to be Biblical Christians. But to NOT vote for either candidate does nothing in the electoral system, since the election is related to the majority of votes CAST. Abstention does not raise the wall for the candidates, it lowers the wall to each the needed 51%.

      You may disagree and discuss who is the greater evil, but you don’t have a strong argument that abstention is a vote against both evils.

      1. Thabiti Anyabwile says:

        Well said.

  4. laro says:

    No, you won’t be able to undo Clinton’s damage in the next election. The 3-4 SCOTUS judges she appoints will not be undone until the elections that your grandchildren are able to vote in.

    This author openly admits he is willing to overlook Clinton’s record on abortion and encourages others to do the same. Is this really what evangelicalism has come to? It is one thing to understand that someone Christians will unwisely support someone who supports abortion. It is quite another to actually encourage Christians to do support someone who supports abortion.

    Trump will not undo the republic. There is no chance he will be worse than Clinton. There is a chance he could be better than expected. At worst, he will cause more gridlock than has ever been thought possible, and that would be a good thing. Clinton will simply give us more of the same–more spending, more liberal judges, more racial disparity and mistreatment of minorities, the increasing of economic systems that further hurt the poor among us, the continued weakening of our communities and our educational systems, and on and on. There is absolutely no legitimate case to be made that Clinton is better than Trump. At best, one might say they are equals. To encourage a vote for Clinton seems the abandonment of any form of Christian claim. How can we encourage the election of someone who believes in murder at will?

  5. David Poe says:

    You and your pastor should repent. Additionally, he (as a shepherd) should be put under church discipline and step down.

  6. Hugh McCann says:

    So silly, Thabiti. Oops, Nick. [Confusing & misleading by-line!]

    1. Who says you HAVE to vote at all?

    2. “Trump threatens church unity”?! Just how weak IS the church, then?

    3. Read Christopher Hitchens’ No One Left To Lie To before endorsing a Clinton. Please.

    If Trump and Clinton are your only options…

    You forgot abstention.

    The alternative is voting for NEITHER evil. Please.

    And you guys enjoy 501.C.3 status & protection?!

    1. Thabiti Anyabwile says:

      1. No one. But this piece makes a case for why someone ought to vote a certain way.
      2. Very.
      3. Thanks for the recommendation.

      501(c)3 status does not forbid individual Christians or Christian leaders from participating in public discussion or even arguing for an issue or candidate.

      Thanks,
      T

      1. David Poe says:

        Thabiti you need to repent and step down as a shepherd. You have ZERO biblical support for your Hillary endorsement.

        I’m not voting for either one. You as an alleged believer should be leading biblically. You aren’t doing that in this case.

        1. Jonathan Whittle says:

          While I agree with your conclusions, you might want to provide some Biblical support for calling Thabiti to step down. At least offer him what you demand of him (which, of course, I do not think you can do). Voting for Hillary would do significant damage, as would voting for Trump, and this article, in my view, is extremely misguided and fundamentally not Christian, but a call for him to step down is extremely asinine. We all are misguided and sub-Biblical in our thinking on certain issues. How about a gracious call to reconsider?

  7. Bo Pritchard says:

    Let’s dispense with Trump for a moment. This isn’t Sophie’s Choice, you can sit out. But if you as a confessing Christ follower, and your pastor, are publicly advocating for the election of a radical abortionist such as Clinton? Shame on you and Thabiti. Repent.

  8. Hugh McCann says:

    It helps to be egalitarian, I guess.

  9. Stephen Tilson says:

    In your assurance to us that we will still be able to mount an opposition to Clinton’s policies if she wins, you are leaving out an important dimension. Given the current social and (especially) media climate, opposition to Trump from his own party will be far and away more effective than conservative opposition to Hillary could ever be. Her overwhelming support in the media, coupled with large numbers of conservatives voting for her (and visible, well-known Christians like yourselves), will make her SCOTUS noms and legislative initiatives virtually unstoppable. Trump will have no such advantage as he will have to contend with both a hostile press and a conservative base that will expect him to abide by his promises if he wants their support for a second term. Criticism of his actions from conservatives will also be much more effective, and his freedom of movement much more restrained, given the amplifying power of the mainstream media.

    In short, I don’t think Trump will have the power to further distort and damage the republic. But Clinton certainly will. I don’t want to vote for either of them, but I will vote for Trump over Clinton, because he will be much weaker than she.

    1. Thabiti Anyabwile says:

      Hi Stephen,

      Thanks for reading the post and commenting. Thanks for actually trying to think through the issue.

      I appreciate the push back to Nick re: which candidate could more successfully be opposed were they in office. I was almost with you except for one thing: Trump’s party really hasn’t been able to slow him down, reign him in, redirect his path or anything up to this point. He’s basically blasted the entire party establishment and broken every conventional rule of party politics. I’m left thinking that if he wins he’s almost entirely unstoppable–especially by those in his party.

      I see you see it differently. What am I missing? I’d like to believe you are right, but right now I don’t detect anyone being able to sway him. He strikes me as utterly incorrigible.

      If, however, the GOP takes the same kind of stance with a hypothetical President Clinton as they have with President Obama, I think a great deal can be slowed or halted. Take, for instance, the issue of Supreme Court nominees. It’s easy for us to forget that Pres. Obama has actually nominated someone for the court. But the GOP has effectively sandbagged that entire issue for what will be more than a year! How were they able to do that? Well, my answer is: Because Pres. Obama is a conventional politician bound by the rules of the game. They can stuff some of his moves because he at least generally plays by the rules. With Trump, all the rules and even respect for the rules goes out the window. I don’t know how you stop that. And it’s why I think he’s more dangerous and should be opposed.

      Would love to hear more of your thoughts on this.

      T

      1. Eric Van Dyken says:

        Hello Thabiti,

        You said: “Trump’s party really hasn’t been able to slow him down, reign him in, redirect his path or anything up to this point. He’s basically blasted the entire party establishment and broken every conventional rule of party politics. I’m left thinking that if he wins he’s almost entirely unstoppable–especially by those in his party. ”

        I would note that to this point, Trump has done absolutely no governing, just a bunch of campaigning. It seems to me that the rules for governing and campaigning are night-and-day different in nature and specifics. Political rules and “realities” of campaigning are in great part formed by conventional wisdom, not constitution, law, and a system of checks and balances that is present in the political rules of governing. Trump has defied a lot of conventional wisdom, but I don’t think that means that he can be equally as expected to rule with impunity within a system of laws and checks and balances (at least to any greater degree than our current President).

        Eric

        1. Tim Bushong says:

          “Trump has done absolutely no governing, just a bunch of campaigning.”

          The founders of our country wanted just that–and that means no career politicians. Like Hillary…

  10. Hugh McCann says:

    Why is TGC giving you a platform, given this:

    I’m writing this post in Thabiti’s space both to add my voice to his and to make a claim that goes a little further: I think that evangelical leaders – in particular, conservative evangelical leaders – need to use all the influence God has given them to encourage thinking Christians to vote for Hillary Clinton. No dithering; no qualifications. The stakes are simply too high.

    Let me back up for a moment and share a little bit about where I’m coming from. I’m a member of Thabiti’s church and a person of color. I’m also a lifelong Democrat. I became a believer just over 10 years ago, and while my views on life and marriage changed, most of the rest of my political beliefs – which align with those of the Democratic party – did not. So my voting behavior stayed the same, even after my conversion.

    A pro-abortion, fairly new believer is now qualified to tell us how we MUST vote.

    Thanks for nothing, TGC.

    1. Thabiti Anyabwile says:

      Oh, Hugh, that’s a silly mischaracterization and a good example of why most Christians actually get little room to grow on typically contentious issues like politics. Nick is not “pro-abortion.” And he’s been a Christian over a decade. That’s not “fairly new” by any reasonable man standard. He’s been a Christian for over a third of his life, and that being his adult life.

      As much as some may hate it, not all Christians are red state Republicans. Gasp! And not everyone in the Democratic party supports abortion, just as not everyone in the Republican party is actually anti-abortion–despite the party platforms. Nick’s comments are valuable, in part, because they show that someone can grow and does grow over the years. No one who comes to Christ lives a consistent life and world view at the start. In fact, many of us who have walked with the Lord for years fail to do so consistently. If we don’t admit that, then we don’t allow ourselves space to grow up into Christ.

      So let’s dispense with the light personal attacks and talk about the substance of arguments so we might work out our discipleship by being sharpened by one another.

      Grace and peace,
      T

      1. Ted Ryan says:

        The Democratic Party’s own platform includes an affirmation of abortion. The GOP’s does not. By supporting the Democratic nominee you are supporting a party that has as one of its core values, killing babies. There is no defense for that.

        “For You formed my inward parts;
        You covered me in my mother’s womb”
        Psalm 139:13

        Please, please, please reconsider who you are supporting.

      2. Eric says:

        “He’s not pro-abortion” and yet votes for a Pro-abortion candidate. “Against abortion” then must be pretty meaningless. In some ethereal, irrelevant, gnostic plane I guess he must be Anti-abortion when he in practice votes to support it. I suppose he and you are trans-anti-abortion because you self identify as such.

        1. Thabiti Anyabwile says:

          LOL. Hi Eric. Thanks for a bit of sarcasm that’s actually funny and clever. I really appreciate it.

          But let’s not continue maintaining the idea that there’s ever a pure vote and the guys who don’t vote the way you do must be succumbing to or outright endorsing everything a candidate holds. No one does that. And, if they do, then chances are they never vote.

          It’s disingenuous for some people (not necessarily you) to argue a vote for Clinton is a vote for abortion when many of those same persons voted for Romney and did not in the least think it was a vote for Mormonism, for example. We’re all able (or should be able) to hold complex positions in a complex world. The reductionism we sometimes engage is actually unhelpful on a lot of levels.

          Thanks for joining the conversation. And, again, thanks for the touch of satire!
          T

  11. Patrick Sanders says:

    I have to strongly disagree. The idea that if I kill babies now I can then elect someone who can kill less babies later is totally illogical. I sleep with someone now so I have less temptation to sleep with them later? No, we move in a direction of holiness, not worldliness. To think that Hillary Clinton will “save” our country and Trump will “destroy” it is a false idea of what the presidency actually amounts to. I would argue that most of the government operates and is without oversight so the presidency really doesn’t matter. I am very disappointed that Christians are willing to say that Hillary Clinton (pro-choice, pro-gay marriage, pro-war, and habitual liar) is a godly decision. This is not a time for pragmatism, we are far past that time, this is a time for principles. My prayer is that Christians stop looking to the presidency as something that matters and will change our government, our government fails us as Christians with a Republican or Democrat in the white house because of Government is so far corrupted no SINGLE INDIVIDUAL can change that. I’ll prayer for whoever gets elected, but do not tell me that HIllary Clinton is a more godly choice than Donald Trump, BOTH undermine and compromise the message of the gospel if Christians are willing to sacrifice principles for politics. I am not willing to put the message of the gospel aside to get a candidate elected. Honestly, you’re going to tell me that voting for a person like HIllary Clinton helps our cause of promoting the Gospel? I don’t buy it, and I think it hurts our message as Christians we are willing to elect someone who PROMOTES evil, not just allows it to happen, but creates policies that create more of it.

    1. Thabiti Anyabwile says:

      Hi Patrick,

      Thanks for joining the conversation. But I don’t think you accurately characterize Nick’s argument at all. Not one of the summary representations in your comment resembles what Nick has written here. No one here is saying Clinton is “godly,” “helps our cause of promoting the gospel,” will “save our country,” or anything like that.

      This post assumes two very bad options and makes the case that the more conventional politician is actually the less radical, more predictable choice. And it goes further to argue that one candidate represents so volatile a choice that Christian leaders should actively oppose him. But that’s not an argument for a “godly” Clinton by any stretch.

      Finally, if you don’t think the presidency matters and that both Clinton and Trump are bad choices (which I agree with), then why not make the principled argument you allude to? Spell them out. That’s what public discourse is about.

      Grace and peace,
      T

      1. Patrick Sanders says:

        Hey Thabiti,

        I appreciate the response and I will say I elaborated on what I felt like Nick was communicating. I just really didn’t like the many phrases, “thinking Christians” or “you should encourage all of us to vote for Hillary this Fall” or

        “not endorsing her views on abortion” (personal matters vs public policies are different, Romney was a Mormon, but his policies are what I’m affected by, Clinton’s policies are what I’m concerned about. Also, I did not vote for Romney for many reasons, or vote at all, but his personal convictions matter less if they are not being forced upon others, unlike Clinton’s abortion policy) or

        “existential threat to the Republic” (that is VERY strong language that excited emotion, but my argument it that no ONE individual can destroy a country, it takes many individuals, who very well maybe elect Trump, to destroy a country, so we should not worry about electing Trump, we should be concerned for the people who are excited about electing him. But, the same argument can be said with Hillary so it’s a bad argument) or

        “Your witness for Christ – our witness – will be diluted because we didn’t do everything we could to prevent this catastrophe. And there won’t be a next election to get it right. (In my opinion my witness for Christ will be diluted no matter WHO I vote for because there is always someone on the other side that is hurt by my voting preferences. Which is missing the point that our country is going to be in a catastrophe no matter is in office, because our problems are far outside the reach of the presidency, mostly economic. Once again, very “scary language” and assuming Hillary will not do terrible things, I cannot promote – yes, voting is promoting – a candidate who will help abortions to continue) or

        “Hillary Clinton is a conventional Democrat” (this is very disheartening to see someone described Clinton as a conventional democrat. She is, in my opinion, the worst candidate. If you do not see Clinton as a threat, then we need to have more conversation, both candidates are “threats”) or

        “Yes, you should vote strategically.” (this is why we are in the mess that we are in, because people in power understand how to manipulate a population to make them think there are only “two choices”. I cannot in good conscience vote for ANYONE who will continue to provide legislation to help abortions and more unjust wars happen, that is not strategic it’s not wise and very risky to assume it will “get better”. Any vote away from holiness cannot be good because it moves us away from holiness, so strategic voting cannot be a good argument because I am personally voting for someone to do something evil and to say “I don’t approve of what they do, but I want them to be in charge is hypocritical)

        I’m sorry my original post mischaracterized Nick, and you know him far better than I do, but the arguments are poor and I really get annoyed when someone tells me which candidate ALL CHRISTIANS should vote for. There is never a perfect candidate, but I will not vote for any individual who PORMOTES evil. You don’t elect a pastor from a group of guys who do the least amount of bad things. “This guy has slept with only 4 other women besides his wife, and this guy has slept with 7 other women besides his wife, I’m going to choose the lesser of two evils.” NO! You pick someone who is moving towards holiness, someone who knows they have many flaws, someone who is humble. Clinton and Trump both think they can “save the world”, and I do not want to elect anyone that desires to rule over people, both candidates meet that qualification. You don’t do something because it’s “less sinful” you do it because it’s right.

        Again, I wish we could have these conversations in person, because online always develops a sense of hatred and angry, but I want to say that I think it’s a conversation that rubs people the wrong way, and to post a message of “Christians should vote for Clinton” on the internet must be carried with some rebuttals. I hope over the many months many Christians will realize that we can no longer “choose the lesser of two evils”, because we only continue to get more evil. Whatever candidate we get, so be it, but I will not have an active role in electing either.

        Patrick

    2. Patrick Sanders says:

      Re-reading the articles again I want to make sure that I say that Trump is not a better option than Hillary, both are terrible options and our jobs as Christians is not to do the lesser of two evils, but to not do evil at all. Hillary is no fan of the Kingdom and she is more tyrannical than Trump (she just doesn’t have her name on all her buildings, because she has destroyed more buildings and more lives than Trump has). HIllary is by far one of the worst candidates our election as provided, and I’m never voting for Trump, but I will never vote for Hillary because of the worldview she has. Just look at Benghazi, her emails, covering up scandals for Bill, her “relief” in Haiti, etc. Trump is so awful in rhetoric, but HIllary is so far worse in her actions! Trump might be a terrible person, sure, but to look at HIllary Clinton and say she is decent, and will save this country is just not true. Trump will not save it, Hillary will not save it, the Gospel well. Let’s focus on that and just admit we as Christians cannot vote in this election, it will do more for the cause of the Gospel when we don’t “choose sides” and give non-Christians the view that salvation comes from a different way than whoever is in office. I wish we would get this passionate about the gospel message, but politics distracts us from it. It’s one of Satan’s biggest tool to distract us and prevent us from actually healing, saving, and freeing people. Very frustrated with the idea this article presents, and hope my words are not taken with disdain, because no one is perfect, but this is truly upsetting.

      1. Thabiti Anyabwile says:

        Hi Patrick,

        Thanks for the elaboration and the rebuttal. That’s welcome here, especially in the irenic tone you use. Grateful for you.

        Of course, everything rubs almost everybody the wrong way in this election. That, too, is a barometer for how heated and contentious our discuss has become. So, again, I’m grateful for people like you who care enough to engage, explain, and rebut without vitriol or mischaracterization. In my experience, it’s rare and it’s needed.

        I’ll only leave one additional thought to your last couple of comments. In the next-to-the-last paragraph, you remind me of something that I’ve heard many people say. You sometimes hear, “We’re electing a Commander-in-Chief not a Pastor-in-Chief.” But the paragraph you write shows that actually we should be electing a Pastor-in-Chief if we’re biblical Christians. The “shepherds” of OT Israel were kings and magistrates. Inside the Church, God gives shepherd-leaders and defines the expected moral character, etc. I don’t see why any reason why we should abandon the ambition or desire for such when we think about being disciples in the public square.

        Grateful for your exchange, bro.
        T-

  12. Nick, Thabiti! What’s up?!!!

    Thanks for the post and for the thought provoking nature of it.

    My tone is one of simply batting it back and forth with friends. You know I love you both. So let’s have some fun.

    On point 1- This is just some feedback not necessarily a quarrel. Nick, it will be easy to hear your point here if you admit on some level that the electing of Pres Obama to a 2nd term has been a bad choice for our country. Why? I believe it has emboldened evil. His leadership on these issues will prove to be long term setbacks. The president has celebrated evil at the White House in loud colors and mandated chaos with this bathroom issue. Surely your heart was grieved by that?

    I’m pretty sure you were for his re-election back in 2012. It would be easier for me to hear this point if there was a clear criticism on your part here of the President. We had an opportunity to stand against his wrong positions that were huge and we didn’t. I think talking about that would help your point.

    On point 2- Fair observations, there again, brother. However, has not Pres Obama introduced further chaos into our confused culture with this latest mandate? Again, it would be easier to hear your point if you confront that in clear terms. If anything, conservatives were proven right by arguing against his second term. The republic is already not doing well brother. Pres Obama’s election has a lot to do with that. I wonder how many would’ve voted for him in 2008 if they knew he was all about these social agendas we are looking at now. I know that can be debated; however, I believe it has merit as a point.

    The post would also be helped here if you acknowledge that both Clinton and Trump have exhibited narcissistic tendencies. Sure Trump is off the charts, but we have seen it from her too. Her attitude about Benghazi has not commended her leadership. It has been at times equally disturbing.

    On point 3- No problem here. Something to consider is this. Given the recent outburst of democratic congress woman Zoe Lofgren, I think we have to consider the hostility that electing Hillary Clinton can bring to those who do not agree about the bathroom mandate, gender, and abortion. Hostilities all over the media seem to be focused on this issue most of the time.

    On point 4- The post reads, “All right, you might be thinking: Trump is bad, but isn’t Hillary just as bad? Isn’t her support for abortion alone equal to all of the terrible things I’ve just described? Perhaps –…” I would drop the “perhaps.”

    Yes, it is terrible. I think it is hard to make the case that she is conventional in the way it reads here. Besides, hearing about a “conventional” democrat these days is not comforting. That term does not mean as much as maybe the post hopes it does. In the words of Chris Carter from ESPN, “ C’mon man!” :)

    Are we supposed to feel that she is just another, you know, FDR , JFK, or WJC? I know. I know. They were very flawed too. She has always been non-conventional about feminism, and abortion, among other things. I see your point about Trump here. I also doubt that man could get a second term.

    I also see media outlets like MSNBC finally coming down on Clinton for this recent scandal; not Fox, but MSNBC. I mention this to say, I’m not sure I have confidence that she will protect constitutional order as this post assumes. The term “constitutional” sounds very fluid in the mouths of both candidates.

    On point 5- Reminds me of the 2012 election. The wrong choice was made. I think that should be stated. :)

    On point 6- I do admire your courage and appreciate you raising the level of conversation on this issue. This is the logical conclusion if you are right. Right now, I have plenty to fear about both these candidates. I’m going to sit on these arguments longer and pray for wisdom.

    Thanks for letting us join the conversation and for modeling what it is to engage these things in a gracious manner.

    1. Thabiti Anyabwile says:

      Thanks for a great interaction and a balanced call for balance, bro!

  13. Chris says:

    I am currently one of those third alternative types. The reasons I am concerned about Hillary is her willingness to misuse the power of executive orders and the bureaucracy to impose her moral vision on the country. However, it is not her imposition of her moral vision that troubles me. It is that by doing so in this way, she will break down the Constitutional protections against unchecked power that have already been weakened far more than they ought to have been over the last century. These concerns are identical to the same ones that I have of Trump. They will both misuse the executive pen and the bureaucracy. It is from this abuse where I foresee that extinction level event of the republic rising. I cannot vote for any candidate who would lead us to that point.

    1. Thabiti Anyabwile says:

      I appreciate your comment. It underlines the seriousness of the choice before us. Will we continue to be a country under the rule of law where “under the rule of law” has any genuine meaning? For me, that’s a tremendous concern. Thanks for sharing it.

      T

  14. S.L. Jones says:

    Thabiti and Nick,

    Thanks for the article. I have a few thoughts but read them less as “I think this is definitely truth” and more as “these are my thoughts on what doesn’t make sense to me in the article… what do you think?”

    It seems like the argument is based on this “extinction-level” event. I haven’t read the article where this term originates but I wonder if this perception of Trump is overblown or overstated. Yes, if you think Trump is capable and America is in jeopardy of a power grab such as Hitler in the 20th century then voting for Hilary makes sense. I’m wondering as to some of the specifics that make you come to the conclusion that Trump is capable of this? I understand his character flaws but have never thought that because of them the country not being around in four years. (Maybe I should read that article).

    I’m of the thought that maybe Trump isn’t capable and that voting for Hilary would actually continue or set up the usurpation of the separation of powers that would eventually lead to the extinction-level event. Here are a couple of examples.

    I’ve heard it said that “personnel is policy”. I’m assuming, but I think a semi-good one, that Trump will appoint mostly conservatives around him. I align with most of the platform of the Republican Party and I am comforted that his VP, his cabinet and Congress will have influence and power over him. If the president had sole sovereignty over the country I would be more worried. There are a lot of people in the Republican Party that I respect and would rather have that team behind the president than the Democratic Party.
    It is the Democratic Party (and Hilary Clinton) and not the Republicans that have added and advocated for a stronger executive branch. President Obama has overstepped constitutional limits numerous times during his presidency (the court ruling today… immigration and other executive actions being a couple examples) with Democrat backing. Republicans on the other hand advocate for the separation of powers and are going to and already are supporting policy against the overreach of the president (one example being the suits filed by Republican leadership against the president’s bathroom directive). It seems that voting for Hilary and the Democratic Party would be a continuation of the logic of overreach even more so enable the “extinction-level” event in the future.
    And last, it seems to me that Hilary in office appointing liberal justices would also empower the President even more and offer maybe a greater threat to the country that Trump and the Republican Party.
    As you probably know, liberal justices believe that the interpretation of the constitution can be… well liberal. That it doesn’t necessarily mean what it meant when it was written. It is ever evolving and changing. And with a Supreme Court that believes this about our constitution what foundation do we have? The simple Christian idea that people are sinful and that power needs to be separated can go out the window if the Supreme Court isn’t bound by a document. Support the decision or not, I see this in the Obergefell decision where the Supreme Court legislated “same-sex marriage” nationwide without the consent of the country. Conservative justices believe that the constitution means what it says and that therefore keeps a separation of powers. I’m thinking… wouldn’t Trump and a decades of a Supreme Court that believes that laws and the Constitution mean what they say when they were written be better than a court that believes it can be interpreted however 5 unelected lawyers want? Wouldn’t that protect separation of powers? I don’t think we want to be telling people that you can interpret the Word the way Democrats interpret the Constitution.

    Those thoughts among others with the Democratic stance on abortion makes it really hard to even think about voting for Hilary. Not to mention that she has character flaws the rival Trump’s.

    Anyway, those are my thoughts and would like some feedback.

    1. Thabiti Anyabwile says:

      Dear S.L.,

      Thanks for your thoughts. Engaging people and hearing their constructive thoughts is actually why I write anything at all and sometimes post what for many will be controversial. I firmly believe we need more, better dialogue on just about everything and that our inability to talk to each other without demonizing is itself a significant danger to the Republic. So a comment like your’s is a blessing to me.

      Just some more thoughts to further the conversation:

      1. I agree. As I said in my earlier post, this line of argument only makes sense if you seriously think we’re looking at two real “evils” or you think “extinction level event” is something more than hyperbole. If on either side of the ledger that’s not what we think or it’s not true, then the argument does not hold. So, in a sense, the first discussion is whether we really think “two evils”/”extinction level event” is an accurate frame.

      2. Because I believe we are facing two evils with this election, I actually think the election of either candidate means significant further moral decline, social confusion, and subversion of the Constitution. So my real question at this point is, “Why option appears to me to be the slower, less radical decline?” If I can’t stop the decline itself, can I slow it? So, that’s an instrumental view of voting instead of a purely principled view (which had been my orientation for all my voting life). I’m only pushed to the pragmatic because I think the prospects are that dire.

      3. Personally, I have ZERO confidence that anyone inside or outside the GOP can stop, slow, or control Mr. Trump. From where I sit, he’s run roughshod over the entire process and party. Appeals to “change your tone” and “act presidential” have been given lip service and summarily dismissed with the next press conference. His erratic and unpredictable demeanor–now being advocated as his foreign policy strategy–makes him both uncontrollable and dangerous, imo. So I don’t have the confidence in his personnel as you put it in your 4th paragraph. If he’s this bad while trying to secure the nomination and win the election, what will he be when/if actually elected? That concerns me greatly.

      4. I agree with you about Democratic overreach with executive orders and the like. It’s been a stunning illustration of what it means to “force your values on someone.” No disagreement. But the existence of Republican opposition also illustrates my point about Obama/Clinton being conventional enough that you can oppose them. I simply haven’t seen anything work in opposition to Trump, who, it seems, doesn’t understand American civics and constitutional law very well at all. And if those who are opposed to erosions of the Constitution are no longer the defenders of it but lined up with an abuser of it, then we leave the walls without a guard. That would be catastrophic, imo.

      5. I agree; it would be far better to have a Court filled with judges who are strict in their interpretation of the Constitution and not “activist judges” creating law. Far better. But, again, I don’t have confidence Mr. Trump is a principled conservative or would behave reliably in appointing persons of this character. Nor do I think he’d be the kind of President who could work with others well enough to ensure a nominee was actually confirmed to the Court. In fact, if Trump is elected and there is down ticket fallout from being associated with him, we could end up with a largely Democratic legislature that would never affirm a nominee from him. We don’t have centrist in this election. So I think the appeal to SC justices is more optimism than reality.

      Grateful for the opportunity to think with you. I agree with you on a lot of things. I just don’t think a “President Trump” is a better option and, for more reasons than I list here, I think he’s actually more dangerous.

      Grace and peace to you,
      T

  15. Josh Forsman says:

    Christians should vote for a moral monster who could destroy the SCOTUS because of leftist racial rhetoric? Unbelievable.

    1. Thabiti Anyabwile says:

      Christians should vote for a moral monster who could destroy the SCOTUS because of right-wing racial rhetoric? Unbelievable.

      See what I did there? But it doesn’t really advance the discussion, does it?

  16. Bryan says:

    I’m not sure if TGC is going downhill or not, but this doesn’t help their case. The entire article is filled with horrible arguments but let’s just look at the 6 reasons he provides.
    **Note: Before I begin I want to make a few points. 1. I’m not advocating a Trump presidency. Trump sucks. Hillary sucks. My point is that evangelicals probably shouldn’t vote for EITHER. 2. I’m a libertarian in the Rothbardian sense, I am coming at it from that angle but honestly it applies across the board.**
    1. Every election is a choice between different evils.
    So? Isn’t that the problem? Wasn’t it Charles Spurgeon who said: “Of the lesser of two evils, choose neither.” Have our standards really fallen that far that we have to decide that we want that evil over the next? Also I’m not entirely convinced Trump is the worst out of the two. Trump will be bad, but Hillary wants to continue useless wars that cost the US billions and cause death of horrific numbers. Trump says mean things, Hillary kills people with bombs, there seems to be a difference there. A bigot is not the worse thing you can be.
    2. Trump may be an existential threat to the Republic.
    Good! Please God let this happen. Maybe a true free market capitalist system will be set up where we don’t pick our overlords ever 4 years that screw us. He also mentions in this section that Trump is a narcissist. We do realize that anyone running for president is running for power, right? Humble people don’t run for a position where you rule over people. That’s like saying the Pope is humble when he claims to be the mouthpiece of God, it’s just absurdly shortsighted. He also compares Trump to Hitler in this column, and we all know if you want to prove your point without looking like you’ve put zero intellectual thought into something is comparing them to Trump.
    3. Trump is a threat to the unity of the church.
    Huh? We are putting that much stock in an overlord that he can ruin how we worship with our brothers and sisters? I don’t think that speaks highly of the church of which you claim to want to protect. I congregate with plenty of people that disagree with me. Not many people have heard of Rothbard at my congregation, I’d bet I would be able to count the number of people on one hand actually. But you know what happens? On Sunday we put those differences aside and hear the Gospel. Maybe your church is not strong enough to handle opposing or different ideologies, but that’s on you and your pastors, not on the whole church.
    He cites Trumps misogyny and racism as reasons, but I got to tell you, Trump wasn’t the one that destroyed the life of a young women after they were raped. That would be, you guessed it, Hillary (http://www.thedailybeast.com/…/exclusive-hillary-clinton-to…). And we all know Bill’s sexual exploits, which Hillary has worked to cover up, but Trump says mean things, so again he’s worse right?
    As far as the racism thing. I understand that, but again he only says mean things. The Clintons passed drug laws that put more people of color in prison and get them killed at far higher rates than white people. So if we are comparing history here, it seems like Trump ends up looking better than Hillary still. And if I’m not mistaken, Trump wants to look at legalizing weed which would HELP people of color, not destroy them.
    4. You may think she’s terrible, but Hillary Clinton is a conventional Democrat.
    Conventional anything is the problem and why Trump is so popular. That’s what people like the author don’t understand. People don’t like Trump because he’s a douche, they like Trump because he’s a douche to the establishment. Even though he is just as much as part of the establishment as anyone. Consistency is definitely not Trump’s strong suit. Either way, arguing people should vote Hillary because she’s just the same as before is to fundamentally misunderstand the political landscape of this election cycle.
    5. Yes, you should vote strategically.
    Typical “vote for 3rd party is a vote for ________” nonsense. People don’t want to violate their conscience by voting for someone they vehemently disagree with on every issue. As a leader in the church, that should be something you want and advocate for. Don’t preach that we need to stick to our Christian morals and lead a Gospel life, and then in the next breath say forget all of that and vote for Evil or Evil.
    6. It has to come from you.
    This is just a section about how he was considering voting Republican for the 1st time ever, but he can’t because of Trump now, and thus people who typically vote GOP need to make the argument. No real discussion here.
    Conclusion:
    The argument that Christians need to vote Hillary because Trump is evil misses the fact that Hillary is just as evil if not more evil. Don’t vote for the lesser of two evils, vote for the person that doesn’t violate your morals and conscience. I will not vote for someone that advocates for continued war in the Middle East, as well as the bombing of children and hospitals in that region. Or supports the Federal Reserve causing inflation and taking away my purchasing power. I am not ashamed of that, I don’t think my vote is wasted. Our votes don’t really matter either, they are glorified suggestions. So vote or don’t vote, either way your decision shouldn’t violate every moral fiber in your being.

  17. Amy says:

    Nick,

    Thank you for posting; this was a thought provoking article from an angle that I hadn’t considered yet. I was especially moved by your point about the fear that immigrants must be facing. I hadn’t thought of that before, but I see the danger given his attitude towards people of other races, combined with his instability. I can put myself in “immigrant shoes” and understand that uneasiness.

    Along the same lines, I think Trump could eventually erode religious freedom for Christians through policies that he would initially direct towards Muslims. Giving the government power to track people’s religion and then restrict them based on religion alone would eventually be used against us (we as Christians are public enemy #2, after all). I think our grandchildren will eventually be persecuted by those same laws, even if those laws were originally not aimed at Christians.

    Having said all that, I am still in the “third party” camp. I’m strongly pro-life, and just can’t grasp the idea of voting for Hillary. To be clear, I do not believe that Trump is pro-life. I can’t see him standing up for the rights of the weak, such as those facing terminal diseases or disability. Similar to your argument, I am going to vote third party for the sake of the long view. A third party will probably take a few election cycles to form and gain support. I’m willing to cast a “throw away” vote to help hopefully build the ground-swell of support needed. I will stay registered as a Republican in order to make my independent vote an even more clear statistic against Trump.

    Thanks again for the article, Nick. This is clearly an explosive issue, and there will be more diverse votes on this election in the church than probably ever before. I hope we can use this as an opportunity to state our values clearly to the world and keep our unity, and not dissolve into disagreements before a watching world.

    In Christ,
    Amy

    1. Thabiti Anyabwile says:

      Really love your entire comment, Amy, but especially the last paragraph. I hope such an opportunity results, too.
      T

  18. Doug says:

    Legally, most Christian leaders cannot do what the author suggests because they are part of a 501(c)(3) organization:

    Under the Internal Revenue Code, all section 501(c)(3) organizations are absolutely prohibited from directly or indirectly participating in, or intervening in, any political campaign on behalf of (or in opposition to) any candidate for elective public office…voter education or registration activities with evidence of bias that (a) would favor one candidate over another; (b) oppose a candidate in some manner; or (c) have the effect of favoring a candidate or group of candidates, will constitute prohibited participation or intervention.

    https://www.irs.gov/charities-non-profits/charitable-organizations/the-restriction-of-political-campaign-intervention-by-section-501-c-3-tax-exempt-organizations

  19. Anthony Delgado says:

    IDK, I feel like we can vote our conscious and God will do the work to bring the candidate. Isn’t that Romans 13.1? I’ll be voting third party because there are third party candidates that allow me to vote in accordance with righteousness, at least to a greater degree.

    I call a spade a spade, I guess.

    Besides, voting for either candidate is just going to perpetuate bipartisan politics. Christians can break this broken system, but most are too stuck in their tradition–either D or R–to chance real change.

  20. Micah Vanella says:

    All are entitled to their opinion. I will be voting for none of the 3 candidates chosen by their respective parties.

    I will NEVER knowingly and willingly vote for a pro-murder candidate. I will never throw my support behind a person who believes children are not people. Similarly I would never support a person who believed that Africans were animals or Jews were pigs. I won’t and my conscious won’t let me. It’s disgusting and depraved. I don’t care how much we have in common and I don’t care how much the Democrat party has done for minorities. They are the party of death and they are proud of it.

    I was set to vote Libertarian this fall before they elected Johnson. I decided to stand on my principles and trust God for the outcome. It would be nice if my brothers would join me in abstention as protest.

    P.S. Clinton and Trump are two sides of the same coin. If you can’t see that you aren’t paying enough attention.

  21. Chris Erwin says:

    1. Agreed. So that means one of my basic jobs as a believer is to try, as best I can, to determine which candidates favor policies that would permit or encourage the types of evil that are most gross, most outrageous, most immediately destructive, and most concretely in opposition to God’s plans, as He’s revealed them in His word.

    2. Trump as an “extinction-level event” – you know, that’s just the sort of thing many Republicans have been arguing, and were arguing before 2008, about President Obama. And however much such a person may dislike him and/or his policies, the nation is still here. The sun still rose this morning. One would think that the author, a lifelong Democrat, would hear such claims about another presidential candidate and hear them for the hyperbolic fear-mongering they are. Folks, we are not electing a king or an emperor with absolute power. We are electing a term-limited President whose powers are in many ways quite limited, and who, if he shows signs of being the terror so many think he will be, can be stopped in many constitutional ways, including impeachment and removal from office. We would be well served in this argument to put away such linguistic hand grenades.

    3. In making this argument, you are ignoring the very real threat that Clinton (and our current president) pose to the unity of the church by their proclamations of being followers of Jesus and yet supporting policies that at a basic level refuse to submit to God’s word on matters of marriage, family, and even the sanctity of life. In making their professions and yet supporting such obviously anti-biblical policies, they are emboldening those weak Christians who believe it’s okay to claim to be following Jesus while simultaneously rejecting the authority of His word in their lives. This too is a threat to the unity of the church, in a serious way. I’m not disregarding the argument you’ve made about Trump here; but I am saying your argument is blinkered and unfairly one-sided.

    4. Your entire argument here is based on your fears of what may happen, based on fears of what you believe Trump might do. And you may turn out to be right. Or you may turn out to be wrong. But it’s pretty hard to make a persuasive argument about these things when you have no actual evidence to support it. What makes you think Hillary won’t do anything unpredictable? Such an assertion is based on one or two assumptions: That people don’t change when they get into power, and that unexpected circumstances don’t lead people to sometimes respond in unexpected ways. And both of those assumptions appear, from a historical perspective, to be demonstrably false.

    5. “The best way to use your vote against Trump is to vote for the next most likely person to win.” Yes, if your primary goal is simply to stop Trump. If so, well, you may be right. But that’s not my goal. My goal is to be able to vote for someone who, even if I disagree on some policies, I can at least in good conscience push the button for. And if this year, I find that I cannot do that, I will vote third party or not at all. My job is not to make Machiavellian plots and schemes to ensure that “my guy” wins, or that “the bad guy” loses; my job is to cast my vote, before God, in a way that leaves me as certain as I can be that I didn’t vote for someone who openly supports clearly sinful policies.

    Folks, even at a practical level, choosing to cast a vote for a third-party candidate rather than Trump will have the almost-certain effect of handing the vote to Clinton. So if your goal is to A. vote against Trump but B. do it in a way that doesn’t implicate you in helping elect someone who believes it’s good policy to rip defenseless human beings limb from limb, then perhaps we should all be looking for a third-party candidate instead of calling people to vote for Clinton.

    In terms of God’s judgment, any sin is sufficient to condemn us in the sight of a perfectly holy God. But in terms of earthly life and the common-grace wisdom God gives all men, not all sins are created equal. Some are more obviously distortions of God’s plan (see Romans 1 and the argument concerning homosexuality). And some are more obviously destructive, more obviously wicked. I cannot for the life of me see how anyone can relativize, and in so doing minimize, the monstrous wickedness of abortion. It is, I remain convinced, THE moral evil of our time. And because of this, no, I cannot ultimately see the sense in any argument that seeks to persuade me to vote for a candidate who supports it. For ANY reason. And certainly not the arguments made in this article.

    1. Thabiti Anyabwile says:

      My brother, it’s always a blessing hearing from you! I pray you and the family are well and thriving in the grace of Christ our Savior!

      Thanks for engaging Nick’s post. I’m sure the next time you see each other you’ll have something to talk about ;-)

      Your brother,
      T

  22. Joe C. says:

    “On the wrong side of history” is a Marxist phrase popularized by “conventional Democrat” Obama and continually cast in the teeth of Christians on the matter homosexual marriage and now this transgender insanity. And now this same rhetoric is being used against those who don’t vote for Hillary. It seems the author has been listening to a lot chatter on the left. Furthermore, while I do not support Trump, Nick and Thabiti are giving him too much credit in assuming he can essentially snap his fingers and vaporize our Constitution and our system of check and balances. Hillary, on the other hand, will continue the slow death of the Republic. I guarantee.

  23. Charlie says:

    Thanks for the thought-provoking article.

    I absolutely cannot vote for Hillary due to her sheer incompetence and ignorance regarding technology. Her email setup compromised national security, she repeatedly lied about it, and she will be indicted by the FBI in the coming months because of it. The email issue is a much larger issue than most people realize.

    I cannot vote for a serial liar who intentionally breaks rules and shows a total disregard for national security in her quest for convenience and personal secrecy.

    But I wouldn’t vote for Trump either.

  24. Cody says:

    “Conventional democrat”- haha!

    Saddened that TGC has stooped to level of click-bait article such as this.

  25. S says:

    A vote is an endorsement. All the plotting and scheming doesn’t change that fact. Clinton has proven herself as evil and vindictive as they come. If you put her in office, you are endorsing her lawlessness, her disregard for the unborn, her crushing of women abused by her husband, and her suspicious ties to Wall Street and foreign money through her foundation.

    1. Thabiti Anyabwile says:

      Not everyone understands a vote to be an endorsement. It may be for some. But many, many people vote for candidates without at all endorsing the candidate or all their positions in some unqualified way. If we vote at all, I hope we all reserve the sense that no candidate is Jesus Christ and therefore every candidate at some point is someone we could not and would not endorse.

      This is not to challenge anything you say after your first sentence, just to push back on what I think is a common over-statement.

      T

  26. Stephen says:

    Is there any compelling reason for a Christian to vote for Hillary Clinton? No, not a single one. Are there numerous compelling reasons not to vote for her? Unequivically, yes.

  27. Paula says:

    The reasons I won’t vote for Trump are the same reasons I won’t vote for Clinton. Both are untrustworthy, manipulative, power hungry, punitive and civilly evil people.

  28. Kevin says:

    1). If you “fear for you life and safety” due to a Trump presidency, you are so delusional that your thoughts on the election shouldn’t be published.

    2). If you knowingly and repeatedly voted for pro-death candidates you have no moral standing to advise others in what to do.

    Shame on TGC.

    1. Thabiti Anyabwile says:

      Hi Kevin,

      The post isn’t a “TGC” view or representative of the organization. It’s popular but ultimately uncharitable for some people to take shots at “TGC” because they don’t like something on someone’s personal blog–especially when, if I had to guess, 95% or more of the members of TGC would not take the view of this post at all. So, you can aim your shots at me. But TGC bears no shame in my posting on my blog my own thoughts or the thoughts of others who do not represent the organization.

      T

  29. David Lovi says:

    I am dumbfounded. How on earth is the Gospel Coalition allowing an article on their blog encouraging Evangelical leaders to encourage those under their care to vote for a particular presidential candidate!? Is that what pastors of the Church of Jesus Christ are called to do!? Never mind the fact that the particular candidate being put forward here is extraordinarily immoral, it is simply not our job as pastors to tell our people to vote for Hillary Clinton or anyone else. IT IS OUR JOB TO PREACH THE GOSPEL OF JESUS CHRIST! The Gospel Coalition, and Thabiti Anyabwile, and Nick Rodriguez should repent of using their enormous influence to sway people toward a wicked politician! Wow. How far TGC has fallen.

  30. Joshua says:

    I have lost all respect for the Gospel Coalition. Any group that would publish an opinion urging Christians to vote for Hillary is apostate. I will never vote for Trump, but Hillary is even worse! So sad to see that there are so few “pastors” who are willing to literally have the scriptures rule their faith and conduct.

  31. Mark says:

    I think you ought to reconsider your sources for news and information…Trump is far right? Absurd! Trump is a threat to minorities? Baseless! You’re reiterating the spin we’re all surrounded by; trying to pass it along as reasonable. These opinions can only be formed by a steady intake of “news” soundbites (edited and repeated) that lead you exactly where you think you want to go. How ridiculous it is to compare Romney, an honorable man of moral character, to Hillary, who will tell you anything she thinks you want to hear. See what a fantastic job the Democrats have done in Detroit (my birthplace)? Can’t argue facts. Can’t blame George Bush. Better open your eyes a little wider so you can see the whole picture, friend.

  32. Amy says:

    I volunteer at a clinic that provides professional counseling and alternatives for women who are abortion minded. We sit right next to the abortion clinic, where the lot is always full. I hear real life stories from post abortive women who are devastated by their “choice”. I get to play with babies whose mother’s went to have an abortion, but came through our door instead. Women come in, who were at the abortion clinic but ran out due to the cold, clinical, uncaring atmosphere. Our most oft heard complain from abortion clinic clients is “they didn’t care about me at all. They were just herding us through.” I see women who choose life because of the smallest little piece of legislation that made it more difficult to get an abortion. ALL THE TIME. Legislature has a huge impact weekly on how many babies are lost, and how many are saved. When you vote for a pro abortive candidate, you become a very real player in the lives of the women and children I encourter, so you bear some responsibility there. It is no sin to abstain from endorsing evil, no matter the label it wears.

  33. Susan says:

    Thabiti, are you a registered democrat? Do you usually vote democrat? If so (and I rather assume it to be the case since you were first advocating Bernie Sanders), why?

    1. Thabiti Anyabwile says:

      I am not a registered Democrat.

      I do not usually vote, much less vote Democrat. Cast my last vote for George W. Bush in his first term.

      I was never advocating Bernie Sanders.

      So you assume wrong.

      Thabiti

  34. Anonymous says:

    Nick, Thabiti,

    Thanks very much for this article. Whether I agree or not, it has been a great joy hearing your views on such a polarised and toxic topic.

    It discourages me greatly when people tie political convictions with our faith in Christ. Phrases such as “any group that would publish an opinion urging Christians to vote for Hillary is apostate” or calls to “repent” are highly disturbing.

    The beauty of the gospel is not merely forming a worldview and sharing that worldview. Instead it is the revelation of Jesus Christ, the author of salvation, that should permeate all worldviews and ideologies. It is the eternal truth that has the power to unite people across all dispositions. In no manner should we ever claim that an act, much less a political choice, condemns a person or reflects a condemned person (barring blasphemy against the Spirit). Yes, faith in Christ will lead us to similar views on political issues (anti-abortion), but faith in Christ gives us the freedom to pursue different avenues to achieve his goals for the kingdom (for example, without advocating a position, support for the poor and mom’s instead of legal means).

    We come into the world and grow as Christians while forming a worldview. As humans, it is unsurprisingly tempting to quickly confirm our views as right and ‘mandated’ by Scripture. As such, let us not be quick to imposing that worldview on other Christians. It is after all, a worldview that is molded by sin and culture. Let us weigh carefully in humble discourse how the gospel shines on these issues.

    So once again, thank you for your views. The advancement of the kingdom cannot be the voice of the church through a political party. The advancement of the kingdom has to be the voice of the saints across all political parties. A church united on issues across all political parties (including those who don’t vote) will offer a beautiful reality to a condemned world.

    Best,
    G

    1. Thabiti Anyabwile says:

      Amen, G! Amen!

  35. Brucew says:

    I am reminded that the winning candidate does not need to win a majority if the populace. They only need to win a majority of the votes CAST.

    So if I abstain it does not count as a vote against anyone. I have voted on one side of the aisle my whole life, and I think Clinton is dangerous, but I agree Trump is an existential threat to America. I am strongly considering the recommendation of this article.

  36. Skilch1 says:

    Sorry, this article is pure junk.

    Any “evangelical leader” advocating support of Clinton should be avoided, period.

  37. Matt says:

    For Christians, there is positively ZERO justification to vote for the Democratic candidate. She blatantly advocates for positions that are contrary to Gospel centered teachings and is, at best, a habitual liar. This blog post is disgraceful and very sad.

  38. Christina says:

    Darkened counsel from a darkened mind. Go back to your ivory tower and stop trampling on the consciences of blood bought saints.

  39. Eric Van Dyken says:

    After all is said and done, isn’t Hillary Clinton really just Donald Trump with a filter? Finding a *real* difference between the two is an exercise in futility, it seems to me.

    1. Thabiti Anyabwile says:

      Amen. Unless the filter matters in even some small, marginal, incremental way. But, I agree; we’re not looking at light and darkness here, but darkness and darkness.
      T

  40. Steve says:

    A great article showing why some pastors need to stick to the pulpit preaching the gospel and stop trying to be politicians. Vote for Hillary? Over Trump. Seriously? This is a joke right? This is a comedy post? How can we take you serious? Absurd!!!

  41. Dennis Golding says:

    Whereas I emphasize with the writer’s concerns with Donald Trump, I think that to perceive his campaign tactics as a precursor of his potential presidential conduct is unnecessary. Just as Bernie Sanders could not simply decree socialism into existence, neither could Trump decree that the gov’t of Mexico build a wall. If the only thing Trump got right was one Supreme Court nominee, the rest of his single term presidency would likely be an excercise in the rest of us ignoring him with little effort necessary to do so.

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Thabiti Anyabwile


Thabiti Anyabwile is a pastor for Anacostia River Church in southeast Washington, DC and a council member of The Gospel Coalition.

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