Why My Christian Faith Compels Me to Vote for Joe Biden

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Photo by Joe Biden on Facebook

I’m a Christian, and I am voting for Vice President Joe Biden.

In 2016, President Donald Trump overwhelming won over voters like me.

There’s a sense among some Christians that Trump has done a pretty good job. The only negative to Trump that everyone seems to agree on is that he tweets too much. Even many who dislike him still consider him to be the “lesser of two evils” in the upcoming election.

But to anyone still undecided in this election, this article seeks to demonstrate why Trump is not the lesser of two evils — in fact, he stands in opposition to the core ministry of Jesus Christ.

Nearly every day, Trump and his administration have taken deliberate and intentional steps to harm the very communities that Jesus spent his ministry serving. From shutting our doors to refugees and immigrants, to inciting racism, to cutting off help to the poor, and to bringing shame to the White House, Trump opposes the values that I as a Christian hold dear.

Jesus Christ stood for immigrants and refugees; Trump stands in their way

“I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me.” Matthew 25:35 (ESV)

Jesus taught his followers to reject nativism and to embrace immigrants, especially ones in need.

Trump has centered his campaign around immigration (see: “build that wall!” and similar chants). He claims to fight “illegal” immigration, but his administration has been relentless in turning away migrants trying to follow US law, too.

There is no area where Trump has wrecked greater havoc than in our asylum system. Asylum-seekers are some of the most vulnerable persons on earth. To qualify for asylum, they must credibly prove that they are fleeing persecution. Most asylum-seekers have gone through excruciating trauma like torture, rape, death threats, or watching family members killed. Asylum-seekers should be close to the heart of every Christian.

Trump has dismantled the asylum system, making it nearly impossible for persecution victims to qualify. With varying success, he has tried to deny asylum based on whether people entered the country, what countries they passed through to get here, and how long they have been in the United States.

Trump is also trying to deny asylum to victims of domestic abuse and gang violence, threatening to send people to Guatemala instead of providing them safety in the US, and forcing applicants to remain in Mexico while their claims are handled in the US.

Trump has also begun charging asylum-seekers for the privilege of going through the hell he has created (making the US 1 of only 4 countries to charge for asylum, the others being Iran, Fiji, and Australia).

And in a recent, devastating change of policy, Trump is using the COVID-19 pandemic as a means to completely deny 1,000s of asylum-seekers from entering the country or pleading for help.

But ending asylum is just part of Trump’s anti-immigrant agenda.

Trump has eviscerated the United States refugee program, too. With the President having authority to cap how many refugees the United States accepts per year, Trump has lowered the cap to the lowest number in history (lower even than Republican presidents Reagan, Bush Sr., and Bush Jr.).

At a 2019 rally in Minnesota, Trump bragged: “Since coming into office, I have reduced refugee resettlement by 85 percent.”

For his part, Biden plans to raise the cap to 10 times what Trump has set it at. Trump is running ads that attack Biden for wanting to help refugees.

Beyond refugees and asylum-seekers, the world has not forgotten the sight of thousands of children caged due to Trump’s “zero tolerance” family separation policy. This policy stripped children from their parents, breaking families apart as they try to navigate the US immigration system. According to the White House: “The children will be taken care of — put into foster care or whatever.”

Amid mounting public pressure, Trump ended his policy. But as of October 2020, there remain 545 children in custody whose parents the US government cannot locate. Those parents were likely deported after having their children stripped from them.

When asked about it at the debate, Trump stated that the children “are so well taken care of. They’re in facilities that were so clean.” As if keeping kidnapped children in clean facilities is somehow less reprehensible.

While holding these children in “facilities,” the Trump administration argued in court that it should not have to provide them sanitary bathrooms, soap, or toothpaste. Trump also purposely cut programs so that those kids could not play soccer or learn English while in custody.

The trauma already experienced by children separated from their parents is heartbreaking. Some children believed that their parents had been killed. Some believed that their parents had abandoned them. One child said that “every heartbeat hurts” after being taken.

If the US government tries to deport a child, that child has no right to funding for an attorney in immigration court. To help these children, the Obama administration had allocated $4.5 million each year to give them a lawyer. Trump ended the funding when he took office, leaving more and more children to have to stand before a judge on their own.

In under a year, the Trump administration summoned 70 children under 1-year-old to appear in immigration court to be deported. That may sound shocking, but the harsh reality is that we are deporting children from this country every single day.

What about Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), which temporarily protects people who arrived in the US as kids (“Dreamers”) from being deported? Trump has tried relentlessly to end the program and see those 650,000 young people deported. (Thankfully, the Supreme Court has thus far blocked his attempts.) If Trump has his way, many young people will be sent to countries of which they have no memory.

Biden promises to protect DACA (a program the Obama-Biden administration created) and expand Dreamers’ access to higher education.

In other immigration areas, Trump has doubled the cost of legally becoming a US citizen.

He’s also tried to stop awarding diversity visas. (These visas are the legal method for people to immigrate to the US from countries where people have had little chance to come to the US in the past.)

And consider Trump’s use of the phrase “chain migration.” He uses that phrase to disparage the family-based visa process, which is the legal way people can reunite with their spouses, children, parents, and other immediate relatives. Trump wants to block those families from reuniting.

Finally, consider Trump’s efforts to end the constitutional right of birthright citizenship, ban travel to Muslim-majority countries (his promised “Muslim ban”), force immigrants to forego healthcare during COVID-19 so that they are not deemed a “public charge,” end fee waivers for low-income immigrants trying to obtain green cards, end the Central American Minors Program, deport international college students during COVID-19, and exclude undocumented immigrants from the census.

For a deeper look into how Trump’s immigration policies are impacting and damaging lives, check out Netflix’s 2020 documentary Immigration Nation.

Ultimately, what is the point of sending refugees to death by persecution, stripping children from their parents, denying kids a lawyer or soap or toothbrushes, deporting kids to countries they have no memory of, trying to deny citizenship to children born in the US, banning members of an entire religious faith from the country — what is the point of it all?

Cruelty. The cruelty is the point.

There is no question that Jesus stands against this cruelty.

Jesus Christ stood for the poor; Trump stands for the rich

‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.” Matthew 25:40 (NIV)

During his time on earth, Jesus lived a humble life. He owned very little and could empathize with those who were destitute. Much of his teachings surround lifting the poor and needy and showing them love.

That experience is one Trump has never lived, and his policies demonstrate that he does not have the capacity to understand it.

One of the defining issues of this election is Trump’s relentless attempts to destroy the Affordable Care Act (ACA), the law that protects the health insurance of about 20 million Americans, including people with preexisting conditions and those that get coverage through the Medicaid Expansion. Even during the COVID-19 pandemic, Trump is in the Supreme Court trying to get the ACA overturned.

Trump makes vague promises about protecting preexisting conditions, but he makes no promise to protect the Medicaid Expansion. If Trump has his way, millions of low-income people will become uninsured.

Biden, by contrast, promises to protect the ACA and expand coverage to more low-income Americans.

In 2019, Trump proposed a federal rule to eliminate SNAP benefits (food assistance) to 3 million low-income people. Even during COVID-19, with millions out of work, he is fighting in court to cut people off from food assistance. His 2021 budget proposes to cut $180 billion in food assistance over the next 10 years.

For 4 straight years, Trump has tried to defund the Legal Services Corporation (LSC), the largest funder of legal help to low-income people in the United States. I interned at an LSC-funded organization this past summer, seeing firsthand how those funds help people in need. The funding helps people facing eviction, escaping domestic violence, and navigating the unemployment system. Without LSC, many families would lose access to the legal system.

(And speaking of what Trump has tried to defund, don’t forget that Trump tried for 3 straight years to defund the Special Olympics.)

Furthermore, Trump is proposing an 8% cut to spending on education in 2021. This is the 4th year in a row Trump is trying to cut education spending. On the chopping block this year? Cuts to the Pell Grant program, subsidies for student loans, and student loan help for teachers, police officers, firefighters, and others in the public service.

Without Pell Grant funding, I would not have been able to attend community college, and I would not have had the start in life I got. Millions of similar young people will not have that shot if Trump has his way.

Under Biden’s plan, students from families who earn under $125,000 will have greater access to higher education, not less.

For people struggling in poverty, many are taken advantage of by predatory lenders. Trump is trying to make it easier for lenders to trap people in cycles of debt by canceling requirements that payday lenders ensure that borrowers will be able to repay.

Additionally, Trump is trying to slash Social Security benefits from people with disabilities. The process of getting those benefits is already incredibly difficult, and most recipients only receive enough to hover around the federal poverty line.

He has also promised, if re-elected, to make permanent cuts to the Social Security fund, threatening the retirement and health insurance of millions of older Americans in the future.

While some may be tempted to conclude that Trump’s cuts to those in need are somehow necessary, the truth is that it is a matter of priorities, not necessity.

While Trump tries to defund healthcare, food assistance, legal aid, education, and Social Security, he has personally golfed at least 140 times while in office, at a cost to taxpayers of about $142 million.

Trump is requesting for 2021 the largest military budget since World War II ($740.5 billion).

During his 1st year in office, Trump signed a massive tax cut for the rich, making it so that billionaires pay a lower tax rate than working people for the first time in our history.

Trump’s 2nd-term priorities include establishing a permanent manned presence on the Moon and sending humans to Mars.

According to Trump, we have funding for golf, war, the rich, and to colonize the Moon, but not enough to ensure that children in poverty have food security or healthcare.

The suffering of people struggling to make ends meet is lost on Trump. It is a life he has never known. On September 2, 2020, in the midst of a national recession with millions facing eviction, unemployment, and food insecurity, Trump tweeted that we are “so lucky” to have him as President because the stock market did well that day.

Trump remains oblivious to the struggles of the poor and the disadvantaged.

Those are the very people that Jesus directed his ministry towards.

Jesus Christ stood for racial justice: Trump perpetuates inequality and stirs racial division

“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.” Matthew 5:43–44 (NIV)

Jesus built his ministry around the idea that we are “all one in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:28), rejecting the bigotry and hatred that existed in the day.

I will not try to prove that Trump is a racist, nativist, or xenophobic person. While he has a long history of prejudice and offensive conduct and words, none of us can truly see into the heart or mind of another.

But the truth is that it doesn’t matter whether Trump is any of those things; his divisive actions and statements are damning enough.

The President’s words and actions impact millions of people and are echoed throughout the nation.

Only weeks ago, Trump took the debate stage against Biden and failed to unequivocally condemn white supremacy on national television. Instead, he told the racist Proud Boys group to “stand back and stand by.”

His stance toward white supremacy has long been clear. Even from the start, the choice to use “Make America Great Again” as his slogan is a call back to a time when Black Americans were enslaved, segregated out of society, redlined from homeownership, or otherwise dehumanized by racism.

In a September 2020 town hall, a Black American asked Trump: “Are you aware of how tone-deaf [Make American Great Again] comes off to the African American community?” Trump avoided directly answering the question.

In 2020, Trump issued a proclamation celebrating Christopher Columbus. Columbus, who never set foot in North America, kidnaped and raped Native Americans, enslaved hundreds of people, and committed mass murder and genocide. There has been a push in recent years to stop celebrating Columbus as a hero. In his proclamation, Trump said: “Sadly, in recent years, radical activists have sought to undermine Christopher Columbus’s legacy. . . . We must teach future generations about our storied heritage, starting with the protection of monuments to our intrepid heroes like Columbus.”

On the same day, Biden issued a statement standing up for Native Americans and celebrating Indigenous People’s Day instead.

In 2020, it is no surprise that we are reckoning with racism once again. The present #BlackLivesMatter movement arose out of a presidency that stokes the flames of racial hatred.

In an interview amid the nationwide protests over racial injustice, Trump was asked whether he feels like he should work to “understand the anger and the pain particularly Black people feel in this country?” Trump responded, “Wow. No, I don’t feel that at all.” He even mocked the interviewer for asking the question: “You really drank the Kool-Aid, didn’t you? Just listen to you.”

Instead of having compassionate leadership to understand the Black Lives Matter protests, he has worsened the tension, using federal police officers to kidnap protestors and detain them in unmarked vans.

During the protests, Trump also shared a racist video in which a man yells “white power!” He tweeted that the phrase “Black Lives Matter” is a “symbol of hate.” (Meanwhile, he refuses to condemn the Confederate flag’s modern use, which is actually a symbol of hate.)

Without a doubt, Trump benefits from the racial tension, and he leans into it for his own benefit. When he began his campaign, Trump stirred irrational fear of Hispanic people by portraying them as a threat: “When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best. . . . They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people.”

After Sen. Kamala Harris became the Democratic nominee for Vice President, Trump said that she “wants to open up the borders to allow killers and murderers and rapists to pour into our country.”

Trump repeated this misleading, racist rhetoric during the final 2020 debate, saying that his inhumane policies are necessary because immigrants are “murderer[s], “rapist[s], “coyotes,” and “bad people.”

The consequences of Trump’s racist rhetoric are ongoing.

At a February 2020 school meeting in Saline, Michigan, parents met to discuss recent racist act at the school. At the meeting, a parent shared his son’s experience of abuse and derogatory name-calling at the school, noting that his son would be in tears at the end of the day. A white man then shouted, “Then why didn’t you stay in Mexico?

Furthermore, Trump spoke at one of his rallies about Mexicans crossing the border. He lamented the fact that US border agents aren’t supposed to use violence against migrants. He said, “Other countries do. We can’t. I would never do that. But how do you stop these people? You can’t.” A rally goer then shouted, “Shoot them!” People in the crowd laughed. Trump smirked.

Months later, a white man drove 11 hours to El Paso, Texas to kill Hispanic people. After killing 23 people and injuring dozens others, the shooter’s anti-immigrant manifesto says he was trying to stop “the Hispanic invasion of Texas.”

Trump’s words cause real-life devastation.

Consider also the story of Ali Velshi, a Black reporter for MSNBC.

Velshi was covering the ongoing George Floyd protests in Minneapolis when police tear-gassed him and the people around him. Velshi was hit with a rubber bullet. He had committed no crime, and the protest had been peaceful.

Trump discussed the attack on Velshi at a September 2020 rally in Minnesota: “I remember this guy Velshi, he got hit on the knee with a canister of tear gas. And he went down. . . . ‘My knee, my knee!’ Nobody cared. These guys didn’t care. They moved him aside. And they just walked right through. . . . It was the most beautiful thing. . . . Wasn’t it really a beautiful sight? [the crowd cheers] It’s called law and order, law and order.”

A “beautiful thing.” A “beautiful sight.” The nation is broken over racism, inequality, and tragedy, and Trump is cheering it on.

(Trump’s use of “law and order,” by the way, is recycling the playbook of Richard Nixon to exploit racial unrest for personal gain. Nothing about Trump is lawful or orderly. He’s just stoking fear of minorities.)

By contrast, Biden went to Kenosha, Wisconsin in September 2020, the city where a Black man was shot in the back 7 times by police. Instead of glorifying violence, Biden lamented that we are finally reckoning with slavery, the “original sin of this country, 400 years old,” as he put it.

Biden then tweeted:

The US needs someone who can lower the temperature — someone who can bring justice and help the nation heal. Lowering the temperature is not something Trump knows how to do.

It’s not just about rhetoric, though.

Trump is seeking to block school curriculum that teaches the racial injustice that has permeated out national history.

He is eliminating racial sensitivity training from federal workplaces.

In July 2020, he reversed an Obama-era rule designed to combat racial segregation and redlining. The rule was intended to end discrimination in housing and make it more affordable for Black residents to join traditionally “white” suburbs.

Why would a president announce such a rule change right before an election?

Trump tweeted: “I am happy to inform all of the people living their Suburban Lifestyle Dream that you will no longer be bothered or financially hurt by having low income housing built in your neighborhood……Your housing prices will go up based on the market, and crime will go down. I have rescinded the Obama-Biden AFFH Rule. Enjoy!”

As he makes plain, Trump opposes people in “low income housing” mixing with people in the suburbs. It’s the same racist dog whistling that has been used for decades to preserve segregation.

Biden has made ending racial inequality a priority, providing a detailed plan to end racism in business, housing, education, and financial security.

In July 2019, Trump tweeted racist remarks towards four non-white congresswomen, telling them to “go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came.” He further tweeted that the congresswoman “came from countries whose governments are a complete and total catastrophe.” Among the 4 women Trump told to “go back,” one was born in Michigan, one in Ohio, one in New York, and the remaining one is Ilhan Omar, a US citizen who came to the US as a refugee at 12-years-old.

At a campaign rally days later, Trump continued to attack Rep. Omar. His crowd’s response? Chanting, “Send her back! Send her back!”

Rep. Omar is a Muslim, the kind of person Trump has worked to ban from the country on account of their faith. Trump’s Muslim ban is the most serious attack on religious liberty in the US this century. But Trump’s opposition to religious liberty is just as evident in his support for Laura Loomer.

Loomer is a candidate for Congress and a noted QAnon conspiracy theorist. She describes herself as a “proud Islamophobe” who “never want[s] another Muslim entering this country EVER AGAIN!” She has called Islamic people “savages” and “cancer.” She, before being fired from Uber and Lyft, said, “Someone needs to create a non Islamic form of Uber or Lyft because I never want to support another Islamic immigrant driver.”

After Loomer won her primary race, Trump tweeted his support of her. A member of the Trump family campaigned with her.

Despite their flaws, every living US president possessed some ability to unite the nation. At the July 2020 funeral of Black civil rights activist and long-serving congressman John Lewis, presidents Clinton, Bush, and Obama all spoke. President Carter had a statement read at the service. Trump, who had feuded with Rep. Lewis, did not attend.

Biden paid respects to Rep. Lewis:

The contrast between Biden and Trump on racism is plainly evident. Whether Trump is a racist is irrelevant, frankly, because he uses the words of a racist, his actions further white supremacy, and he uses racism for his own gain.

Jesus Christ was driven by humility and character; Trump is prideful and inhumane

“The Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” Matthew 20:28b (NIV)

There is little need to describe the depth of Jesus’ character and humility. Despite being attacked, beaten, spit on, tortured, and killed, he demonstrated how to respond to our enemies and be a light to others.

There is little greater contrast to Jesus Christ than Donald Trump.

Trump has done permanent damage to our country through his behavior and rhetoric, and he has brought constant shame to the office of the presidency. Trump has led a lifetime of wrongful behavior (e.g. bragging about sexual assault), but I will focus only on his actions and words as president.

Since taking office, Trump has boldly and unceasingly been dishonest, telling over 22,000 lies since taking office. Trump’s former Chief of Staff John Kelly stated: “The depths of his dishonesty is just astounding to me. The dishonesty, the transactional nature of every relationship, though it’s more pathetic than anything else. He is the most flawed person I have ever met in my life.”

He places his own interests above those of the nation, having threatened our democracy by flouting the idea of delaying the election, casting doubt on voting by mail (before the election even happens), or suggesting he will stay in power permanently.

Trump sets a horrid example as a leader by constantly boasting in himself. The instances of Trump claiming to be the greatest, the most knowledgeable, the smartest, or the wisest are endless.

Trump also disparages anyone who speaks out against him or challenges his ego. He is known for his derogatory nicknames. (E.g. “Sleepy Joe” or “Little Marco” or “Fat Jerry” or “Dummy Beto.”)

In a 2019 rally in Michigan, Trump suggested that Rep. John Dingell was “looking up” from hell. Rep. Dingell, a World War II veteran and the longest-ever serving Congress member in US history, had died earlier in 2019. Trump suggested that Rep. Dingell was in hell because his wife had supported Trump’s impeachment.

After Lt. Col. Alexander S. Vindman testified against Trump in the impeachment trial, Trump mocked him on Twitter, putting his military officer rank in quotation marks (“Lt. Col.”). Vindman is a decorated Iraq war veteran who earned a Purple Heart after being wounded in battle.

Even the impeachment itself demonstrated Trump’s lack of character. As only the 3rd presidential impeachment trial in US history, Trump’s attempt to boost his reelection chances by extorting a “favor” from Ukraine brought shame to the nation. His conduct has been rightly condemned by Republicans as “shameful and wrong.”

One Republican who consistently condemned Trump’s wrongful actions was Sen. John McCain, who died in August 2018 from brain cancer. Sen. McCain was a well-respected senator who was tortured in a prison camp during the Vietnam War. Trump’s opinion? “I was never a fan of John McCain and I never will be . . . He’s not a war hero. He was a war hero because he was captured. I like people who weren’t captured.”

Cindy McCain, John’s widow and a Republican herself, recently endorsed Biden: “There’s only one candidate in this race who stands up for our values as a nation, and that is Joe Biden.”

At the September 2020 debate, Biden spoke of his son Beau, a military veteran who also died of brain cancer. Biden said, “My son was in Iraq. He spent a year there. He spent a year there. He got the Bronze Star. He got the Conspicuous Service Medal. He was not a loser. He was a patriot and the people left behind there were heroes.”

Trump interrupted Biden, asking him “really?” and then pivoting to an attack on Biden’s other son. I know of no other human being who has the audacity to hear a man speak of his deceased son being a hero and then turning it into an attack on the man’s other son. Trump is the only one.

Having disparaged heroes in John McCain, Alexander Vindman, Beau Biden, and John Dingell, what kind of soldier does Trump respect? He has made that clear.

Eddie Gallagher, a former Navy SEAL, was convicted of photographing himself holding up the head of a dead 17-year-old prisoner of war. Gallagher allegedly stabbed the boy to death, and his fellow soldiers allege that he also purposely killed an innocent school-age girl with a sniper rifle.

Trump cleared Gallagher of his war crimes and honored him with a meeting at Mar-a-Lago.

Celebrating Gallagher is consistent with Trump’s campaign promises. In a pre-election interview, Trump made clear how little he values the lives of people in the Middle East: “The other thing with the terrorists is you have to take out their families, when you get these terrorists, you have to take out their families. They care about their lives, don’t kid yourself. When they say they don’t care about their lives, you have to take out their families.”

Despite his lack of character, morality, integrity, honesty, or decency, Trump continues to try to portray himself as the “Christian” candidate.

Biden, by contrast, is a decent man and a devout Catholic.

Some Christians continue to ignore Trump’s anti-Christian behavior and policies as long as he continues to pretend to care about abortion. Trump has been pro-choice his whole life, but he will pretend to care so long as he can use Evangelicals for his gain.

Trump mocks evangelicals behind closed doors, according to Republican Sen. Ben Sasse.

After a meeting with Evangelical leaders at Trump Tower in 2016, Trump’s former attorney Michael Cohen claims that Trump said: “Can you believe that bulls — ? Can you believe people believe that bulls — ?

Trump mocks Evangelicals because he knows he has them wrapped around his finger.

In June 2020, Trump saw an opportunity for a photo op in front of St. John’s Church near the White House. Peaceful protestors had gathered in Lafayette Square, blocking Trump’s path. Trump had them gassed and shot with rubber bullets to clear the way for his photo, violating the protestors’ constitutional rights and demonstrating his lack of basic human decency.

Trump posed in front of St. John’s Church, a church he does not attend, holding a Bible, a book he does not even claim to read.

Far too many Christians have abandoned the ministry, morals, and decency of Christ in favor of this man.

Conclusion

Like in 2016, Trump’s reelection hinges on whether he can hang on to the Christian vote.

Trump is asking Christian voters to give him 4 more years. Four more years of damage to immigrants, refugees, minorities, the poor, and to decency itself. He wants us to give him the chance to double the size of this list.

Although some may give Trump his wish, I will not be one of them.

Joe Biden is not my savior. He is also a flawed candidate, and he should not be adopted as the new “chosen one” of the Christian faith. We already see the consequences of the marriage between a political party and a religion.

But while Joe Biden is no savior, I will vote for him because I will not sell my values in defense of Trump, a man who has demonstrated that he has none. Biden has demonstrated that, if elected president, he will lead with humility; speak with compassion; and stand up for the poor, the immigrant, the refugee, and the minority. That’s why I’m voting for Joe Biden.

Written by

J.J. is a third-year law student at Michigan State University College of Law.

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