by Sherol Chen
“The silent majority stands with Trump,” maybe not an absolute majority, but a clear majority that was not as silent within as it was outside the church. In contrast, this article highlights a church’s silent minority– evangelicals who voted otherwise.
In August of 2016, I gave a Passion Talk on the tension between a career that demands all of my attention and a faith that demands all of my devotion. This was one of the greatest motivators for Passion Talks, to bring together those who’ve felt torn between two worlds, those called to be both evangelist and engineer, apostolic and academic, the faithful and the skeptic. I fondly described myself as a misfit in the church and the workplace.
(Maybe this is you– the person who quietly sits in the congregation each Sunday and speaks during that minute you say hello to the strangers sitting behind you. Maybe you are the person who serves as greeter or administrator. Better yet, if you have technical skills, you may have had the honor of building the website or running the sound board. And if your skills are too specialized to fit those predefined needs, then likely you at least make enough money to give a good amount. People who have demanding careers help pay for those who work in ministry after all, because who has time to do both?)
Three months later, on November 8, 2016, the church’s less-silent majority voted for President Trump. The dissonance between the views of the church and the world at large was jarring to many within the pews of evangelical congregations. For those who live out the disparity between very evangelical and mostly secular worlds, being part of both was even more incompatible than ever before. This silent minority of the evangelical church tended to be people of color, younger, more educated, among other statistics.
On November 8, 2016, I was on my way to speak at two Historically Black Universities, coincidentally the day after Election Day, speaking to students of color studying Computer Science. On the airplane ride, I wondered how the outcome of the election would change what I had to say. For sure, it would change the overall sentiments of my audience, Christian or not. (90% of Black Protestants voted for Clinton and only 5% voted for Trump).
Little did I know, being there was so much less about my scatterbrained talk, but a valuable and privileged experience, where I got to listen to, learn from, and understand students and professors from intellectual Black communities. In the cacophony of lamenting and celebratory Facebook posts from the Bay Area, I attended a sobering and hopeful assembly on “What a Trump Presidency Could Mean for You” in the South.
The description read, “Join us today at 3:00 pm in Georges Auditorium as we discuss the real impact of yesterday’s election for students and for America.” I heard area experts talk objectively about foreseeable and likely political outcomes, as well as students voicing concerns for safety, citing actual experiences they’d had in the last 24 hours. What was most lasting to me was how strong of a community they had, and how much they emphasized supporting one another, understanding those from outside their circles, and raising and encouraging new and current leaders.
I don’t think it was just random chance that I would be in that right place at the exact right time, but I do know that these are conversations that I rarely see happening between disparate echo chambers. I’m glad to see that folks in the Bay Area are having an opportunity to share and relate on January 13th. I hope to see you there and hear your stories.
Sherol shares more of her dialogue via social media around last year’s elections here.
Join us at our first Passion Dialogues event: Truth and Reconciliation Summit on 1/13/17 aimed at bringing greater racial unity within the church via dialogue that leads to actionable change.