To the evangelicals who voted for Donald Trump:
I believe you. I believe in you.
I believe you love others. I believe you are doing your best. I believe you want good for America.
As a fellow evangelical, a local church pastor, and a seminary professor, I believe you want to be true to the gospel — to the “good news.”
In supporting Trump, I believe you did what you thought to be right by trying to vote for the lesser evil.
I believe you are not a racist, a misogynist, or a white nationalist because you voted for him. I believe you try to love your non-white neighbors, your Muslim coworkers, and your gay family members. I know you feel marginalized and shamed for your values.
As evangelicals, we seek to follow Jesus, who was a blue-collar worker living far from a corrupt cultural center, and he was pushed aside by those in power. Jesus had a complaint against a government that had gotten too big and was beholden to foreign interests. Jesus challenged that and called for another way.
I believe you see your vote for Trump as a call for another way, even if it was a vote for the lesser evil.
I believe you.
But a spike in hate crimes and harassment since the election reveals the consequences of voting for the lesser evil.
The empowerment of hatred because of Trump is now being felt across America: A woman was groped in the aisle of a grocery store in Grand Rapids, Mich., Swastikas and Trump’s name were spray-painted on windows in Philadelphia; a Chinese American woman said she was harassed by a white man in Minneapolis and told to “Go Back to Asia.”
Trump was elected with the support of four out of five evangelicals — people of the “good news.” But countless stories since his election show that, for people of color, women, and Muslims, his election has been very bad news.
I believe enabling this hatred was not your desire. You were just voting for the lesser evil.
But if you do not confront racism, misogyny, and Islamophobia wherever you see it, then your vote for the lesser evil will become a vote for hate.
If you do not press for justice against hate crimes in your neighborhoods, then your vote for the lesser evil will become a vote for the oppression of people of color.
If you do not make your churches a place of respect for women, then your vote for the lesser evil will become a vote for sexism.
If you do not live in a way that proclaims the dignity of all people made in the image of God, then your vote for the lesser evil will become a vote for bigotry and xenophobia.
You voted for Trump on Nov. 8. How will you vote today and every day moving forward?
Will your vote be counted as “good news” before a watching world?
Will you vote daily against racism at work through your hiring practices and your conversations over coffee?
Will you vote daily against sexism in the respect you show to women and the messages you send your children?
Will you vote daily against bullying by calling attention to cruelty when you see it and by overcoming your discomfort in the presence of a gay person?
These votes are being tallied every day. What will they reveal?
Will you surprise those who feel the word “evangelical” is synonymous only with conservative, white, middle-class Republicans? Will you show them that you embrace all of God’s children?
To my white evangelical voters for Trump: Will you show that you are a people of good news?
I, for one, believe you. And I believe in you. I believe we can do better. I believe we will.
Geoff Holsclaw is professor at Northern Seminary and a pastor at Life on the Vine in the Chicago suburbs. He is co-author of Prodigal Christianity and co-host of the Theology on Mission podcast. @geoffholsclaw