Donald Trump (L) and Hillary Clinton (R)
(Photo credit: The New York Post)
The Democrats and Republicans have chosen their presidential candidates and, no surprise, Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump both profess they are Christians.
Clinton attended a town hall meeting in Knoxville, Tn. on January 25, 2016. The New York Times quoted her saying, “I am a person of faith. I am a Christian. I am a Methodist. I have been raised Methodist.”
The Religion News Service (RNS) quoted Donald Trump on June 25, 2016 saying he is a “Presbyterian and Protestant,” and a “Sunday church person.” During an interview in June, Focus on the Family founder James Dobson, who knows Trump, called him a “born again Christian.”
This is an open letter to both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. Let me begin by suggesting the single most important rule for Christians who are public figures—especially politicians—is they need to behave like Christians. Former slave and abolitionist Frederick Douglass once said, “Between the Christianity of this land and the Christianity of Christ, I recognize the widest possible difference.” Douglass was speaking of the institution of slavery in America, but his words still ring true when it comes to American politics today.
Christianity gets a bad rap when people claiming to be Christians don’t act like it. Mrs. Clinton and Mr. Trump, you have labeled yourselves Christians. The way you behave as candidates will reflect on all Christians. Frankly, neither of you has behaved well thus far. You’re both given to name-calling and mud-slinging that reflects poorly on your character and your faith. Please stick to criticism of your opponent’s policies and dispense with character assassination.
Presidents and presidential candidates must seek wisdom. As Christians, you needn’t look far; just open the Bible. Jesus told Pontius Pilate, “My kingdom is not of this earth.” This is great wisdom. Even if elected president, as Christians you still have a higher authority.
1Kings, chapter 22 describes a time when the King of Israel had to decide whether or not to go to war with Syria. Jehoshaphat, the King of Judah, advised him, “Inquire first for the word of the Lord” before making a decision. Sound advice you should take to heart! Seek God’s guidance before seeking the guidance of man. You should also note Matthew, chapter 5, “…let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.”
For Mr. Trump, sir, you seem to have a difficult time keeping your mouth shut. You frequently blurt out opinions and ideas before thinking them fully through. Then you have to “walk them back” as the media calls it, leaving yourself open to criticism of being a flip-flopper.
One of my old Army battalion commanders liked to remind his officers, “Engage your brain before operating your mouth.” Ecclesiastes, chapter 5 says it even better: “Be not rash with your mouth, nor let your heart be hasty to utter a word before God, for God is in heaven and you are on earth. Therefore let your words be few. For a dream comes with much business, and a fool’s voice with many words.”
Also, Mr. Trump, you anger quickly at comments from your opponents. Proverbs, chapter 12 says, “The vexation of a fool is known at once, but the prudent ignores an insult.” Proverbs, chapter 17 says, “Whoever restrains his words has knowledge, and he who has a cool spirit is a man of understanding.” Don’t take your opponent’s words personally and become angry. Instead, keep a cool head and explain clearly to the American people why you disagree with your opponent’s assertions. Otherwise you end up looking like a spoiled, rich brat.
This is for you Mrs. Clinton. You appear to have difficulty telling the truth. This business about your unauthorized, personal email server when you were the U.S. Secretary of State has made you look very untrustworthy, as many national polls indicate. Your story has changed so many times that it I actually feel sorry for you when I see yet another version of your weak explanations. Ecclesiastes, chapter 5 says, “Let not your mouth lead you into sin, and do not say before the messenger that it was a mistake.” It’s time to admit you were wrong and ask the American public for forgiveness. We Americans tend to be very tolerant and forgiving to those who show genuine contrition.
Then there’s your problem with a string of seemingly shady deals for personal financial gain. From receiving hundreds of thousands of dollars in speaking fees from Wall Street banks to receiving hundreds of millions of dollars pumped into the Clinton Foundation by individual investors and foreign entities seeking favors when you were the Secretary of State. By all appearances you value money over honesty and integrity. Ecclesiastes, chapter 5 says, “He who loves money will not be satisfied with money, nor he who loves wealth with his income.” 1 Timothy, chapter 6 says, “…the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil.” Steer clear of evil Mrs. Clinton.
In closing, I offer both candidates a final word of advice from Ecclesiastes, chapter 12: “Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man. For God will bring every deed into judgment, with every secret thing, whether good or evil.” As candidates and, if elected, as president you must answer to a higher authority. You can do as you please for now, but your Christian faith promises there will be a day of reckoning. How will you rate?
Note: All Bible quotes were taken from the English Standard Version (ESV).