How did Christians vote in the presidential election?
This has become one of the prominent issues in this campaign. It is of interest for all kinds of reasons.
Those who analyze elections are trying to determine how the elections work and what makes people vote in certain ways. Those who are running for office want to know how to court certain segments of the electorate.
Christians themselves want to understand how their fellow believers are thinking and behaving.
While exit polling is certainly not completely accurate (we saw that in this election and in others as well), it does give us a general view of what took place.
The exit polling seems to indicate that people of Christian faith voted for Donald J. Trump. Among certain segments of the Christian population, this was in overwhelming numbers. For example, white evangelicals reportedly voted 81% for President-Elect Trump. Evangelicals are generally described as those who believe that salvation comes by grace through faith and not as a result of works (Ephesians 2:8-10). Trump carried the Protestant vote by 58-38% and won the Catholic vote for Republicans for the first time since 2004.
What was it about Donald Trump that made Christians vote decisively for him?
I see three areas.
First, based on the Christians who talked with me about the election, the specter of Supreme Court appointments loomed large. Both sides campaigned that this would be the case. We heard repeatedly from Clinton supporters and Trump supporters who based their vote on what kind of justice the candidates would appoint.
Both sides realized that most of the social decisions in the future would be determined by the court. I believe Christians came to this decision after the court legalized same-sex marriage in the Obergefell Decision. More than anything else, that decision may have turned Christians toward Trump (or away from Clinton).
Second, in a related area Christians have been concerned about the liberty to practice their faith in the way Christ told us–to be salt and light and to live out our faith. They saw Trump as supporting religious liberty in the way it has been understood throughout American history.
It is good to remember that very few countries have religious liberty. We are a unique people with amazing rights. There is a reason why the first amendment is so important.
Third, social media reminded Christians daily that Donald Trump would protect life and that Hillary Clinton supported the right to abortion to the very moment of delivery. I think those views became galvanizing policies for each candidate.
If that is how Christians voted, how should Christians now respond?
First, we must pray for all elected leaders–those you voted for and those you didn’t (1 Timothy 2:1-4). One area of our prayer should be for those who will be appointed to serve alongside the president. A president is like all of us–he will be influenced for good or evil by those who surround him. I want to encourage you to pray for Godly people to come alongside the president-elect.
Second, we must treat those who voted differently with kindness, understanding, and respect. That’s the American way but more importantly the command of Christ.
Third, we must be good citizens who obey all laws that do not violate the commands of Christ (Romans 13:1-7).
Finally, we must not fall in love with a candidate; we must love Christ and serve Him only. “Do not put your trust in princes, in human beings, who cannot save” (Psalm 146:3, NIV). The New Living Translations warns us “Don’t put your confidence in powerful people; there is no help for you there.”
“Whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him” (Colossians 3:17).
This is the only true way to live as a Christian.
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