By Matthew Soderberg | Sports Writer
Matthew 22:36-40 says two commandments stand above the rest. The first, love God as best you can. The second, “love your neighbor as you love yourself.” That second point is why more Christians should be voting for the Democratic party.
According to Pew Research exit poll numbers from 2016, 58% of Protestants and 81% of evangelical Christians voted for Donald Trump in the last presidential election. How does a man who represents very little of the doctrine receive so much support from followers of Jesus?
The president is a man who preaches nationalism and close-mindedness, which in a way, relates to his working-class, white base. According to a Washington Post article written in July, Trump’s base has responded well to his attacks on the Democrat group known as The Squad. Bryan Lanza, an advisor to the president’s 2016 campaign, said that normally Republicans back off when accused of racism, but Trump doesn’t fit that mold, and he thinks “that’s what the Republican voters like about him.”
When it comes to seeking division, the Republican party since the ’60s has done as well as anyone, starting with the isolation of the welfare queen. The first welfare queen was a machination of Ronald Reagan, Republican idol. He alleged that people everywhere were abusing government programs — they were buying steaks with food stamps, building mansions in place of housing projects — but evidence for defrauding government programs has been slim.
Donald Trump has only grown the disconnect between white Christians and the rest of the country. His tweets on July 14 attacking The Squad, four representatives who happen to be women of color, arguing they should “go back” to the “totally broken and crime infested places from which they came,” saw some Republicans, not stagger at their president’s ghastly suggestion, but rather cheer alongside him.
The Gospel says Christians should not behave in that judging manner. Matthew 7:1-2 says “Judge not, that you be not judged. For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you.”
The gist of the section is speaking of hypocrisy. Everyone sins. That is a fact of Christianity. But we are forgiven by the acts of Jesus and God’s grace. Therefore, it is not on us to judge each other, but on God when we stand before Him.
On Earth, Christians shouldn’t judge others for the choices they make. If a person is gay, preach and pray, but don’t attack or criticize them for it. The same goes for lying. And jealousy. And any other sin for that matter.
Somewhere along the way, many Christians in America lost that part of the gospel. Conservative Christians argue against the welfare system. In a 2012 study by Baylor sociology professor Paul Froese, 70% of people surveyed agreed that welfare shouldn’t go to people who can work. Christians ask why they should give their hard-earned money to people who aren’t working themselves. But often, the people on safety net programs are.
In a study by ThoughtCo., 77% of households with a member receiving aid had someone in the house working. Not a single state, even the most blue of them, gives aid to more non-worker households than their working counterparts. Safety net programs have also been covering progressively less Americans since many were instituted in the ’90s.
I’m not here to argue the party of FDR, JFK and Obama is perfect. There are many flaws, in fact. But, in this polarized environment, I think it may be easy for Christians to fall for the rhetoric argued most by conservative pundits and politicians.
The Republican Party has been an agent of division in this country for as long as I’ve been alive. After 9/11, President George W. Bush said “you are either with us or against us” in response to the terrorist threat facing the nation. Trump has compounded on that, yelling about caravans coming to invade the border, espoused that the majority of migrants locked in cages are gang members and rapists (11,000 of them are children) and tweeted that the media has been spouting lies about him and his administration.
His most used, and most successful, political tactic is driving a wedge between working-class white Americans and the immigrants and non-Christians coming to take their jobs, but this country was founded on immigrants and has usually welcomed immigrants as helpful members to society.
The most significant of these historic endorsements is the Statue of Liberty, on which is written “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me. I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”
The New Colossus, written by Emma Lazarus in 1883, reflected the views of Americans when it was added to the landmark in 1903. It also reflects the views of Jesus. In Matthew 11:28, Jesus says “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”
America has long been a safeguard for people to flee to when they are in need, and I would argue that comes from the values instilled through Christianity. Many Republicans, including Attorney General Bill Barr Saturday, argue that the Democratic party is one of secularism and receded values.
Instead, I argue it is the party that holds up Christian values. Loving thy neighbor and lending a helping hand to those who desperately need it seems to come more naturally to those who vote from the left than their red-faced counterparts.