(RNS) Evangelical is an important word in the arena of American politics. It is often seen as a voting bloc to be targeted for votes.
And, in too many people’s eyes, it has become almost a dirty word.
However, in its truest and historical definition, an evangelical is someone who spreads the good news of Jesus Christ. It means spreading the word of God’s grace, that we stand with the poor, the immigrant and the outcast.
As Rob Bell says: “If it isn’t good news for everybody, then it isn’t good news for anybody. Evangelical does not mean anti-gay, anti-science, anti-immigrant, and that is so far from the good news that God’s love extends to everyone who has ever felt the boot of the empire on their neck.”
Early evangelicals not only believed they should care about others on a personal level, but they did so in a communal way because what mattered the most was caring for each other.
As an evangelical, I have thought a lot about the kind of person I want to vote for in November. I want a president who cares about the poor, the outcast, the marginalized and the suffering. I want a president who represents and leads a country in which all God’s children have a place.
I don’t want a president who brings bigotry, oppression and division. I don’t want a president who is mean and hateful. I don’t want a president who promotes a world of fear, of things or people who are different.
This world of fear is the world in which too many evangelical voters live. I know what it is like. For most of my life, I lived in fear of what God would think of me if I were gay.
From the time I was a teenager, I tried hard not to be gay. But in a rude awakening when I found myself seven years into a marriage with two kids, I became painfully and fearfully aware of the truth.
What I learned in my own life is that leaving our fears behind and living into our truths, we can realize the good news of Jesus is not exclusion but inclusion, not shame but grace, love and commitment, both to each other and to the least among us.
That good news must transform how we view the world around us, freeing us from our fear, because “For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline” (2 Timothy 1:7).
Our politics as well as the policies and politicians we support should reflect our beliefs, not our fears. The politics of Jesus, and of the Christian faith community, are ones of love, of equality and of compassion.
Exercising our faith on Election Day means supporting policies that care for the poor, take in immigrants and refugees and create opportunities for others — even if they are different from us.
If we do not believe in hate, name-calling or bullying, we should vote like it. If we believe that Jesus’ good news is for all people, we should vote like it.
I’m an evangelical. I believe in good news for everybody and promise to vote like it. That’s why on Nov. 8, I’m voting for Hillary Clinton.
(Trey Pearson is the lead singer of the popular Christian rock band Everyday Sunday)