Former CIA agent Evan McMullin announces his presidential campaign as an independent on Aug. 10 in Salt Lake City. (George Frey/Getty Images)

This opinion piece is by J.M.N. Reynolds, senior fellow in the humanities at the King’s College in New York.

Those who are unfit for office are hoping we will choose “the lesser of two evils” between major-party candidates, but Americans of faith are not relegated to two choices.

Voters who have deep faith commitments have many reasons to not vote for Hillary Clinton, an abortion rights advocate whose ties to wealthy donors make us question her candidacy. And Donald Trump has run a racist campaign, backed bizarre conspiracy theories, indulged in misogynistic behavior and attacked citizens merely because of their ethnicity or religion.

Fear of Trump drives us to Clinton while fear of Clinton drives us to Trump, but nobody should vote their fears. Instead, we must vote our hopes. Instead of choosing the lesser of two evils, Americans — especially Americans of faith — should vote based on love of country and neighbor.

This is why so many conservative religious voters are interested in independent candidate Evan McMullin. As the site FiveThirtyEight reports, it’s unlikely but not impossible for McMullin to win: “His path to the presidency basically looks like this: 1. Win Utah 2. Deadlock the Electoral College 3. Win in the House.”

According to his campaign, McMullin in on the ballot in 11 states and will be a write-in candidate in 31 states. He is on more than enough ballots to win, if enough of the faithful are smart enough to vote our consciences.

Why Evan McMullin?

First, he is a decent man. He is humble, even though he has accomplished a great deal. He served in the CIA for about a decade, and spent time in investment banking, as an adviser for the House Committee on Foreign Affairs and as policy director for the House Republican Conference. He lives out his Mormon faith modestly and in service to the nation.

While working for the CIA, McMullin was not just sitting at a desk or working as a politician. He was in the field finding allies for the United States and fighting terrorists as a volunteer.

Second, he is a mature man from the next generation. He is a man of the future who appreciates the best of our past. He is younger by decades than the two “major” party candidates, but appreciates the heritage of the Republican Party. He rejects racism, like Abraham Lincoln. He rejects misogyny, like Theodore Roosevelt. He supports free trade in free markets like Ronald Reagan.

Third, McMullin is smart. He reads deeply and he can answer questions beyond the memorized answers of the other candidates.

Fourth, the future of the Supreme Court is at stake, and Trump has promised that he would nominate certain people to make some voters stick with him. But selling our birthright of character for a Trump Tower taco bowl is bad enough, and not getting the beans is even worse.

The worst I hear about McMullin is that he is a “nobody.” It is true that he is not a celebrity, but he is no apprentice either. He has spent his life doing what needed to be done in the field and dispensing the knowledge that talking political heads used.

Isn’t it time we dispensed with the policy pundit and hired the policy wonk? For McMullin, the policy paper is more important than the makeup artist.

Many of us are loyal members of the two major political parties but hate to choose between the nominees voters selected. My family has been voting for the Grand Old Party since Lincoln. As my dad put it: When Virginia seceded for the Union, our family seceded from Virginia to vote for Lincoln and liberty, too.

Sadly, the GOP has seceded from the core principle the idea that “character counts.” Integrity demands that we hold Trump to the same standard to which we held president Bill Clinton. And whatever else he might be, Bill Clinton can never be the “first gentleman.”

There is nothing more sickening than seeing those who have grown rich on commodifying Christian character. Christian heroes from our history did the right thing, even if they lost, but some of our timid Christian “leaders” fear losing so much they lack faith in the power of virtue.

It is true that we are not electing a pope, pastor or priest, but bizarre to think that the leader of the free world needs less character than the pastor of a local church.

“Isn’t a vote for McMullin a vote for Clinton?” my Republican friends ask. This logical error is answered by my Democrat friends who ask: “Isn’t a vote for McMullin a vote for Trump?” Guess what: Nobody has a right to my vote and there are more than two people running.

What does it profit the rest of us to win the White House at the cost of our character?

When fear is the motive for an action, then the results will always be fearful. Democrats sickened by Clinton can vote for a true public servant. Republicans tired of a character-free clown should vote for the serious candidate of character.

In this election, to vote for the lesser evil is still a vote for evil. Instead, we have a choice to vote for decency.

J.M.N. Reynolds has worked in Christian higher education for more than 20 years and has founded several innovative educational programs. He is the author of several books, including “When Athens Met Jerusalem” and the novel “Chasing Shadows.” His views are his own and do not represent any organization with which he works.

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