As regular readers know, I have what could be described as a “love hate” relationship to US preachers. On one hand some of the wackier, more extreme and downright wrong and dangerous ideas emanate from such but on the other many have said and done a good deal of good stuff that has been a blessing to me personally.
Some things I have picked up on earlier, which have become a reoccurring theme, are that many of the well known US preachers have unabashedly given their opinion on the forthcoming US Presidential election and who is the better candidate and, unsurprisingly, there has been wide divergence even among the Evangelicals, with which I am more familiar, and it appears their opinions do carry weight, even though as we have been seeing there is a wide range of views and polarization of opinions.
Two preachers, in particular, who have weighed in with their opinions quite recently, have positively influenced me from a relatively young age, such that when they pronounce, I listen. They are James Dobson and Ron Sider (check out here and here for the helpful Wikipedia entries on the two men). Unsurprisingly, Dobson is better known for championing the causes that concern the Christian right and he is effectively endorsing Donald Trump, while Sider is better known for championing the causes that concern the Christian left and he is effectively endorsing Hillary Clinton.
As far as Dobson is concerned he has influenced me because:
- He has made me understand the nature of the prevailing culture wars and be better equipped to overcome the obstacles that face gospel preaching, community activists such as I.
- He has stood resolutely for strong families and against that which weakens family life (and there is a lot about that does as far as both Dobson and I are concerned).
- He has championed the cause of the unborn, and their right to life, better than any I can name, and has part made me the anti-abortion advocate I now have become.
I had earlier reflected on his thoughts on the presidential campaign, and why he prefers Trump over Clinton, in an earlier blog. His latest offering (see here) makes compelling reading and many valid points, to the extent, unlike several of my friends, I look now upon a Clinton presidency with more foreboding than I do that of Trump.
Regarding Sider, I know relatively little about the man. But it was when I was in my twenties that I came across a book he wrote and it profoundly influenced me. The work I now do supporting the poor and challenging social injustice, while maintaining traditional Evangelical beliefs, is partly because of him. According to Wikipedia: “In 1977, Sider’s Rich Christians in an Age of Hunger, was published. Hailed by Christianity Today as one of the one hundred most influential books in religion in the 20th century”, one of those being so influenced was me. His latest offering is titled: “Ron Sider: Why I Am Voting for Hillary Clinton” begins: “This election, there are only two meaningful choices for president… I have not publicly endorsed a presidential candidate in 44 years. But this year—the most important presidential election in my lifetime—I feel compelled to do so. For decades I have advocated a completely pro-life agenda: pro-life and pro-poor; pro-family and pro–racial justice; pro–sexual integrity and pro-peacemaking and pro–creation care. This agenda is expressed in the National Association of Evangelicals’ public policy document “For the Health of the Nation.” For decades, as I applied this agenda, I regularly concluded that Republican presidential candidates were better on issues like abortion, marriage and family, and religious freedom, while Democratic candidates were better on racial justice, economic justice, and the environment. So I have voted for both Republicans (George W. Bush) and Democrats (Barack Obama)”. He then considers the relative merits of the Trump and Clinton alternatives and finally concludes: “In this unprecedented, astonishing presidential election, I have no doubt that voting for Hillary Clinton is the right choice”.
It is strange that I have now blogged several times on the US Presidential race, and I can recall no time before that when I have taken so much interest in what is happening and the potential huge consequences when one or the other of the main candidates does eventually become President (something my two preachers have richly elaborated on). While I can say, if I were an American, when it comes to voting I would likely reluctantly vote Trump, but it would be with a heavy heart, disliking the man and much of what he stands for. The problem is that is just as true with Clinton, but she generally gets away with it by appearing nicer and more able. What concerns me is the polarization of opinions and divisions we are seeing, especially among my Christian brothers and sisters, and there is no middle ground candidate that stands for the rights of the unborn, traditional marriage, religious freedom, and at the same time taking practical steps to redress societal inequalities, social injustice and plead the plight of the poor or having the personal qualities needed for leading a great nation. Just maybe a few may read these thoughts and be influenced. Meantime, I give it over to my sovereign Lord.