Like millions of Americans, I woke up last Wednesday morning feeling a sense of utter horror and disbelief. I was not only disappointed in my country—I was ashamed of other members of my faith.
According to The New York Times exit polls, 81 percent of white Evangelical Christians voted for Donald Trump. Even without the race factor, 52 percent of Catholics and 58 percent of Protestants and other Christians helped vote Trump into the highest office in one of the most powerful nations in the world. Many Christians voted on a single issue, an anti-abortion agenda. I believe that everyone should have the freedom to vote based on their own opinion, and I understand that many Christians voted for Trump because they truly believe he best represents their values.
However, what I can’t wrap my head around is why the lives allegedly protected by an anti-abortion matter more than the millions of lives a Trump presidency could endanger and has at least thrown into turmoil: the lives of LGBTQ+ people, women, people of color, immigrants, and Muslims, to name a few. I can’t wrap my head around how I can read the same Bible so differently from some of my fellow Christians. Both the Old and New Testament emphasize God’s love for the poor and marginalized, commanding Christians to serve them accordingly. I don’t understand how someone can claim this same faith, yet condone—or at least passively support—words and actions that threaten exactly these marginalized people.
Quite honestly, I am ashamed of the Christian Church right now, but I am not necessarily surprised. The Church as an institution—or really, as many interconnected institutions—has excluded and persecuted many groups of people in the past, and we as Christians need to take responsibility. Nevertheless, I still vow to love my fellow Christians who support our president-elect or simply don’t share my views. I want to understand how they see themselves living out their faith, and I want to try to reconcile our differences. I want the American Church to become a safe, loving, and accepting place for anyone and everyone who wants to join.
But until then, I want to make it clear that white Evangelical Christians do not speak for all of us. When I first came to Pomona, I remember being afraid to call myself a Christian because, to many, the label connotes fundamentalism and conservatism. I don’t judge my fellow Christians who are politically conservative, but it is time we make it clear that the Christian Church is not a place for only white conservatives.
During my college transition, I wrestled with my faith because I didn’t know if I could reconcile my political views with my religious beliefs. Now I am confident that I can, and I have. My Christian faith is one based on a desire to love and serve people. It motivates me to seek justice and peace. My God is a God of tolerance.
Much of my ability to reclaim my Christian identity has come from being a member of the Pomona-Pitzer Christian Fellowship (PPCF), which welcomes people of all backgrounds and all political views, at any place in their faith. In the days since the election, I have found the most solace and space to mourn with other members of PPCF.
I have also felt found the most hope as our Christian community has brainstormed concrete ways to support other people on campus who are also grieving. Just a few weeks ago, we voted to disaffiliate from InterVarsity, an Evangelical campus ministry organization, due to a new policy the organization put into place that hurts LGBTQ+ staff, members, and allies. This gives me hope for the Christian Church, for the capacity of Christians to stand in solidarity with oppressed groups, rather than contributing to that oppression.
This campus, and this nation, need to know that the white Evangelical Christian vote does not speak for all Christians. Many of us are directly affected by the results of this election. Others are saddened by the pain it has caused marginalized groups that have already endured so much. PPCF stands in solidarity with people of color, the LGBTQ+ community, survivors of sexual assault, immigrants and those from immigrant family members, those from low-income households, and Muslims, our siblings in faith. I not only choose to support communities that are suffering right now—as a Christian, my faith requires it.
Kristen Hernandez PO ’18 is a double linguistics and Spanish major and a lover of all things language. She runs for the Pomona-Pitzer cross country and track teams, and is a student leader in the Pomona-Pitzer Christian Fellowship.