I Am a Devout Christian, and the Election Could Politicize My Beliefs Forever

I was born into Christianity and have actively practiced the faith throughout my life, beginning with my socially conservative upbringing. I was 17 in 2012 when President Barack Obama ran for reelection against Mitt Romney. Although I couldn’t vote because of my age, I remember knowing I would have voted for Romney for one reason: He was a Republican, and Republicans were the party that upheld Christian values—like traditional marriage and being pro-life—and I would have been a Christian voter.

My worldview expanded when I went to college: I took sociology classes that taught me about different human experiences, and I traveled to other countries where I met people who held beliefs different from my own. Learning about and understanding other perspectives started to shift my mindset around both politics and religion. As I began to have empathy for people in different circumstances, my political views likewise expanded.

While this didn’t challenge my faith, I did finally realize that not all people seek to live by the same values as many conservative Christians. And while my religious beliefs could guide my decisions, I no longer felt it fair for those beliefs to inform policies for people who didn’t follow the religion in the first place. I started to care more about helping as many people in the U.S. as possible instead of only helping people who believed the same things I did.

In 2016, many of my Christian friends and family voted for Donald Trump, based solely on his party affiliation. I fully respect every person’s right to vote for who they believe is the best candidate, but I find it irresponsible to choose that candidate based on one or two policy stances while ignoring how damaging the holistic effect of the presidency may be.

Christianity is about loving, accepting, and helping those in need. Under the Trump administration, I have seen marginalized groups come under fire frequently in the name of Christianity, and it sickens me.

I also started to recognize how common it is for Christians to use the faith as a crutch to rationalize discriminating against people with whom they disagree, which, to me, is about as anti-Christian as it gets. To me, Christianity is about loving, accepting, and helping those in need. And under the administration of Donald Trump, who is Republican and identifies as Christian, I have seen marginalized groups come under fire frequently in the name of Christianity, and it sickens me.

The Trump administration has weaponized conservative Christian beliefs and used them to back numerous political policies—on immigration, abortion, and LGBTQ+ rights, among others—that should not be influenced by religion. Doing so actually endangers all religious freedom because it creates anti-religion sentiment throughout the country.

The GOP’s 2020 platform itself is unconstitutional for this reason. The First Amendment of the Constitution guarantees freedoms concerning religion—including the right to practice any religion or no religion at all. And the First Amendment’s Establishment Clause (aka separation of church and state) expounds on that freedom, prohibiting the government from creating a law “respecting an establishment of religion,” meaning the government is not allowed to establish an official religion or prefer one religion (or lack of religion) over another.

Now, consider part of the GOP platform, which states, “ongoing attempts to compel individuals, businesses, and institutions of faith to transgress their beliefs are part of a misguided effort to undermine religion and drive it from the public square.” According to the Establishment Clause, religion should not be in the public square in the first place. But it is, and the many ways in which it shows up, plain as day, outline why I do not support the GOP or the Trump administration.

Immigration

Trump has shown his prejudice toward other religions numerous times. Since 2015, Trump has said he would consider closing mosques in the United States, has called Muslims “sick people,” and has claimed Syrian refugees, the majority of whom are Muslim, are trying to convince American children “how wonderful ISIS is.” Then in 2017, Trump signed an executive order banning Syrian refugees and foreign nationals from seven predominately Muslim countries for a period of 90 days.

Since 2015, hate crimes against American Muslims have seen a drastic increase, and the correlation to Trump’s comments is apparent. Blaming an entire religious population for a small amount of crime committed by a statistically small number of radical Islamic terrorists is certainly not “loving thy neighbor.” Many Christian leaders promptly called out Trump’s ban, saying they “decry derogatory language that has been used about Middle Eastern refugees and our Muslim friends and neighbors.”

Abortion

Perhaps the touchiest subject among Christians regarding politics is abortion. The GOP 2020 platform states, among other proposed anti-abortion policies, that it “will not fund or subsidize health care that includes abortion coverage.” But, no matter where you stand on the issue, based on the president’s actions and notable inactions during his term and plans for another four years, it is clear he is not pro-life but rather pro-birth.

Based on the president’s actions and notable inactions during his term and plans for another four years, it is clear he is not pro-life but rather pro-birth.

How can you be pro-life when you allow children to die while being kept in inhumane detention centers at the border? How can you be pro-life when you reject universal health care, and the alternative is letting tens of thousands of people die in the U.S. annually due to lack of coverage? How can someone with a history of racism and sexism claim to value lives past the moment they exit the womb?

After the murder of George Floyd, Pope Francis stated, “We cannot tolerate or turn a blind eye to racism and exclusion in any form and yet claim to defend the sacredness of every human life.” And in discussing Catholicism and politics, Jeannie Gaffigan recently wrote “the dignity of the human person extends to all of us created in his image, both in the womb and out of the womb.” Her sentiment resonates with me.

Even though I feel morally torn about the issue of abortion, I believe all people should be treated with dignity and grace, including women considering it. Trump’s interest in instituting anti-abortion policies doesn’t seem to reflect a desire to actually decrease unplanned pregnancies, which shows, to me, that the GOP’s policy is not even a moral issue.

LGBTQ+ rights

The final major issue I have with the Trump administration, as a Christian, is its stance on LGBTQ+ rights. Trump has a long history of reducing and eradicating LGTBQ+ rights. The GOP’s 2020 platform states that “marriage between one man and one woman is the foundation for a free society” and seeks to regain the ability to “define marriage policy in federal law.” Put bluntly, it aims to make same-sex marriage illegal.

As a Christian, I acknowledge that religious beliefs on marriage may vary, but those beliefs don’t justify bigotry and discrimination in government. Laws that define marriage based on spiritual views essentially force marginalized groups—and anyone exercising the right to not adhere to that accepted belief system—are unjust and violates the First Amendment of the Constitution.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, of which I am a member, frequently teaches the concept of agency, which is “the ability and privilege God gives us to choose and to act for ourselves.” I admire that viewpoint and believe the freedom of choice is an integral part of our life purpose. I love my religion and believe it makes me a better person, but I insist that no one should be forced to follow the same practices I do.

I can’t tell you how sad it makes me to see people use Christianity to justify bigotry, hatred, and discrimination. It’s ultimately my belief that being a Christian means fighting for the rights of marginalized groups. And as a Christian voter, I can’t support someone who turns his back on those people and works to harm them even further.

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