An Open Letter to Adventists Who Voted for Trump

Dear Trump Voter:

I know Donald Trump probably wasn't your first choice. Or your second or third. After voting, one of my friends wrote on Facebook: "I voted. Lord have mercy on my soul."

That might have been how you felt.

After Donald Trump became president, however, you might have been feeling optimistic. You might even have been pleased that some of the policies you disliked under the previous administration were being swiftly reversed. I get that, and while I would love to talk with you sometime about our differing political beliefs, now isn't that time.

I'm writing because the totality of what has happened during Donald Trump's first weeks in office is a pivot from traditional Republican principles and is contrary to our shared American values.

Is it too dramatic to say that I'm worried about the soul of our nation?

Since his inauguration, President Trump and his team have countered actual facts with "alternative facts," censored government offices, advised the free press "to keep its mouth shut," spoken positively about torture, and placed chief strategist Steve Bannon on the National Security Council. (Steve Bannon, of course, is the former chairman of Breitbart, an alt-right website.)

On International Holocaust Remembrance Day, the White House released an official statement about the holocaust that intentionally excluded the words "Jew" and "anti-Semitism." When Hope Hicks, the White House director of strategic communications, was asked whether the omission was to "avoid offending anyone," her sidestepping response was, "it was our honor to issue a statement in remembrance of this important day."

In my history classes at Southern Adventist University, I learned that those who start chipping away at history usually have an agenda. It doesn't feel like a coincidence that Steve Bannon has ties to the white nationalist movement.

Of course, International Holocaust Remembrance Day was also the day that Donald Trump issued an executive order banning the entry of citizens from seven Muslim majority nations. (As almost everyone has pointed out by now, not included in that ban are countries that do business with private citizen Trump.)

There was chaos at the airports this weekend as those with visas and green cards were often handcuffed, denied lawyers, and were either detained (at best) or placed on flights leaving the United States (at worst). Yemeni brothers Tareq Aqel Mohammed Aziz and Ammar Aqel Mohammed Aziz (just 19 and 21 years old) were handcuffed, forced to relinquish their U.S. green cards, and eventually sent to Ethiopia, where their Yemini passports were then also confiscated. They now wait, with nowhere to go and no documents.

When Donald Trump first spoke of a Muslim ban, the Interfaith Immigration Coalition wrote a letter that has now been signed by over 2000 leaders of faith. The letter begins, "As religious leaders from a variety of backgrounds, we are called by our sacred texts and faith traditions to love our neighbor, accompany the vulnerable, and welcome the sojourner."

We Adventists are also called to love our neighbor and welcome the sojourner. In addition, we have a long history of advocating for religious freedom and tolerance. Now is the time for Adventists to be a clear voice opposing any attempt to use religion as a litmus test for entry into the United States.

Last week, as I read the news, I alternated between discouragement, shock, and anxiety. Eventually, I sat down to write. First, I wrote all my representatives. Then, I wrote the White House. Now, I'm writing to you. I'm writing this open letter because while we might have different political opinions, we share a common culture.

I don't know the particulars of why you voted for Donald Trump, but I do know that as an Adventist, you're probably skeptical of government overreach. If you think this new administration has overreached in its first week, please call or write your representative. If you're uncomfortable with the dismantling of environmental protections (which will surely threaten God's creation), please call or write your representative. If you're uneasy about the term "alternative facts," please call or write your representative. Because you voted for the current administration, they will listen more attentively to your voice.

If you finished reading this letter and you're tempted to argue with me. Please don't. Instead, reach out to one of your liberal friends. Let's eat some haystacks together and listen to each other's stories. If you come to my house, I promise to send you home with a bag of oranges.

Sari Fordham is Associate Professor of English at La Sierra University.

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This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at http://spectrummagazine.org/node/7868
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Thank you for writing this, Sari. I know that some prominent church leaders - and some members of my own family and local church - have voted for Trump, despite the hundreds of warnings I posted on my Facebook page! LOL Even in these early days of Trump’s presidency I am very concerned that he and some of his advisers are trying to actually destroy our democracy. Until recently, I was one who thought the oft-repeated theme, “We are living in the last days,” was not a wise thing to say, since people have thought that since the beginning of Christendom, and it has lost its punch. But now, it’s so easy to see how “the final movements will be rapid ones” could be fulfilled. The last year has certainly waked a lot of us up. Yes, we should do all we can to preserve what is good in our society, but perhaps our world’s “cup of iniquity” is finally full. I am thankful to live in a state (WA) that upholds Christian principles about caring for the stranger and the alien, and I am thankful to belong to a local church (Bellevue) that has given a donation to a nearby mosque that was recently burned down. The Mormon church next door offered to let them hold services in their building until they can rebuild, and when problems arose over Sunday worship and they requested the use of our church on Sunday, we voted to accommodate them. They worship the same God we do, just as do our Jewish forebears. I believe firmly that is what Jesus would do.

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Sari Fordham,
I’m glad this is out in the open, as Trump is a disaster and generally Trump and Republican efforts are flat out anti-Jesus’ teachings.

However, I don’t understand this admonishment: Why are these two possibilities presented as a choice? To either argue with the author (not sure what about) or to reach out to a liberal friend?

Reach out for what? What about conservative friends?

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i think the election of trump was a massive mistake…it just boggles the mind how adventists, of all people, could have possibly voted for him…

i’m watching with keen interest the road block that’s been applied to trump’s muslim ban…a seattle federal judge, james robart, has issued a nationwide injunction against the ban, essentially handing washington’s AG, bob ferguson, a victory in his lawsuit against elements of the ban…trump’s justice department appealed last night, but washington’s ninth circuit court of appeals, just this morning, has ruled against overturning the judge’s injunction…both sides will now need to quickly present summaries of their arguments, which are expected to reach the supreme court, where eight justices could conceivable end in a stalemate, effectively collapsing trump’s muslim ban in its current form…of course, trump could also lose this case outright, which could be seen as a loss for rudy giuliani, trump’s cyber security adviser, who is said to have advised trump on how to construct a legal muslim ban, and who at one time was actually considered for secretary of state…the stakes are quite high for the trump administration in this case

alan dershowitz, reliably democrat, seems to believe that some parts of trump’s ban could stand…but other lawyers believe there’s no chance trump will win this case…whatever happens, i think it is clear that both democrats and republicans will be using the courts to counter trump…of course this was happening during obama’s executive orders and early congressional wins…but obama wasn’t tweeting his views to the world, which is what trump is doing…the level of theater and public involvement is just higher this time around…

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Thank you for this timely article. Trump is a clear and present danger to the security of the United States and to the survival of the US Constitution. Seventh-day Adventists should be at the forefront of championing religious liberty as well as for practicing the Biblical calls to extend mercy and compassion to the disadvantaged. I’ve been at a loss to understand how any SDA can still support Trump.

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“it just boggles the mind how adventists, of all people, could have possibly voted for him.”

Let us not forget, that a large number of German Adventists voted for Adolf Hitler, back in the 1930s. They superficially admired him for being a vegetarian, and thought he would “Make Germany Great Again”. Their spiritual eyesight was clearly in need of the Laodicean remedy (Revelation 3:18).

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The SDA church takes in a billion dollars a year. It would be awesome to see the SDA church build, or rent buildings, for refugees/immigrants in several different parts of the country (where this issue is the most pressing) and do whatever needs to be done to take care of them, and help them in their situation here. Do you think the SDA church will take this step in helping to relieve some of the needs in this area…in a large scale way?

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The problem with this is that when Obama was elected I thought that though I was willing to see what he would do (he had criticized Bush for the increase in debt, and did not favor gay marriage), I was willing to give him a chance, and was happy that an African American had been elected president.

But when things went south, I didn’t to see anyone here opting for a letter writing campaign to change some of those policies that I thought were hurting the country. In fact I think most here would cheer him on.

So, I am a bit nonplussed by this request. You listen too much to CNN the NYT and WaPo. They are freaked out that he would keep his promises, and the temporary ban is just that, and it is not against all muslims as the media would have you believe.

So, I guess I will keep my pen sheathed, and enjoy the fireworks.

Oh, you mean like doubling the nat’l debt, or gathering data on ALL the citizens in the US, or having a press that is so enchanted it can’t ask a decent question any ideas of his highness? You mean those kinds of threats?

You know I was out of town on voting day, so did not vote for anyone. But I sure was thinking that if I had been in town and Hitler had been on the ballot I would have voted for him. Where do folk here get off?

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I’ve usually found your comments difficult to accept, Allen. But to say you would have voted for Hitler (widely believed to be one of the most evil people who ever lived on earth)? Oh my. :astonished: I’m astonished. Are you joking?

I believe some Adventists did not understand the potential of Trump. And, although I voted for Hillary Clinton, I had some reservations. But in just two weeks I believe Trump has said and done things that are the opposite of the model of Jesus Christ. Christ taught us to welcome aliens, “strangers in our gates”. He taught hospitality. He died for ALL.

How can Adventists who’ve been taught all our lives the principles of religious liberty condone even veiled discrimination against Muslims? Forty years ago, Roland Hegstad in “Liberty Magazine” urged us to support non-Christians in their right to practice their beliefs. What have we come to now? This ignorance or disregard for religious liberty could well lead to great harm for our people. While I do want the Lord to return soon, I can’t imagine an Adventist purposely bringing the threat of harm on our people.

I personally don’t understand how someone who endeavors to be Christlike can support many of Trump’s actions now. And dislike for Hillary Clinton should not, I think, be an excuse for doing otherwise.

I wonder if any Adventists who voted for Trump without realizing what he would become can honestly say now that they regret the outcome.

Only my faith allows me to walk on into what seems like a very frightening future for America and the world right now. “We walk by faith and not by sight”. Christ is our light in the darkness.

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I also wonder how any concerned Christian could support Trump before he got elected and even more now. I have also had many of my family supporting him both prior to the election as well as I am sure continuing to do so. Trump and what he represents is the antithesis of what a Christian leader should look like. Growing up as an Adventist and preacher’s kid, I can understand how this seems like the time of the end. Some may embrace that and even choose to hasten it but there is too much at stake for your own soul.

To be very honest, I also believe that we are shortsighted if we only focus on the keeping of a particular day as the main sign of the anti-Christ. As I see it, the key difference between God’s way and evil is in the element of choice and truth. God was willing to allow part of the Godhead to descend to earth as a human to maintain the ability for humans to choose. The antithesis of God is the use of force and lies and should not just be limited just to whether one worships on a certain day. There will be many “good” Adventists as well as Christians in general who come to the end and are turned away because they “did not do what should be done for the least of these” in a mistaken form of Christianity and self focused heresy. When we have difficulty deciding and debating who our neighbor is, and how we will deal with their differences, we have embraced evil. Love is what Jesus practiced–He told the story of the Good Samaritan to illustrate how love should be evidenced–not by maintaining a perfect “sinless” life as the religion of the day professed but getting down and dirty and helping your fellow man even if they don’t look or act like you or worship as you do. As a country, we are in the process of destroying what has made this country great and will decline even more as other societies in history have done as they have become isolationist and focus on nationalism. The church leaders also can fall into that same trap of self-focus and preservation.

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I seem to remember a prediction from EGW that the United States would someday abandon every principle of free and democratic government, or words to that effect. It looks to me as if that’s exactly what Mr. Trump is trying to accomplish. May God have mercy on our country. Don

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It certainly does boggle the mind, why an Adventist would have voted for Trump. After all, did they not observe his bullish demeanor during the debates with his Republican want-a-bees to come full bore with his debates with Hillary? His unbelievable narcissism screamed his utter disqualification to occupy our Oval Office, yet many Adventists gave Trump a pass.
Opinion: For an Adventist to have voted for Trump, suggests that they have believed the half-truths, innuendo and lies spewed forth by Hillary’s opposition very early on in her life. It’s fair to say, much of the mean-spirited deceitfulness was the mainstay of Fox-News, Rush Limbaugh; ultra-conservative venue, generally. Some simply felt the “the Clinton brand” had made its contribution, while others fell for Trey Gowdy’s pseudo-premise, mean-spirited effort to destroy. Why? One could believe, a proposed rationale for their vote could be positively correlated to their being tuned in to the ultra-conservative venues; one word is descriptive; snookered. A few more reasons, but word allocation limits.

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Sari. Well stated. Thank you so much for having the courage to publish this. I was and continue to be aghast that Christians voted for him. In the two year lead up to the election ( and well before that) Mr. T. told us exactly who he is. His mean-spirited trash talk about Mrs. Clinton was both amusing and disgusting because he was/is by far the blacker of the two pots and I say this as a registered Republican. I am keeping that status because I want a voice on the GOP side. Now is the time to let our voices be heard against the Bannon/Trump presidency.

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I find Trumps handling of nearly everything unpresidential at best frightening at worst but while freedom from religious persecution or the promotion of a religion should be avoided at all costs, how high should the price be and is there not a balance.

The reality is that the type of SDA attitude so often rightly criticised here, pales into progressive insignificance compared with the vast vast majority of Islamic beliefs.
While the US may have a more successful track record of digesting Muslim immigrants, the proportionate numbers are small compared with Europe and no body wants that situation. It’s not a coincidence that the rise in anti-semitism coincides with the rise and agitation of Muslim populations.

Many writers and readers here wouldn’t want Alt-right Adventistism on steroids which is what we are talking about. When the Quran is the actual words of God, debate about its meaning at all sees you called an apostate. What chance a reformation under such constraints.

About the only moderately successful democracies with majority Muslim population we were able to point to were Turkey and Indonesia, not so much anymore.

Must we choose between the freedom of Muslims and Jews in the west?

I think some Christians are loathed to criticise Islam because they don’t want the microscope turned to some of our own ridiculous, illogical or ignorant practices. I believe religious thought should be open to the same level of critique as any other ideology and not hide behind the skirt of the law. Should atheism be off limits?

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I’m shocked and surprised at how many Adventists on here are so judgemental…you condemn those that voted for Trump but think Hillary Clinton would be a better pick. Evidently you know nothing of the Clintons or just listen the the main stream media. Also please think about what your saying…do you really think that things happen randomly or that God is still sitting on the throne and that things are going as planned. Think about your judgemental actions and what your conveying to all the people out there…especially Adventists. Please express your personal opinion without condemning anyone…I get a little carried away myself but I’m trying hard to change and understand that things happen for a reason and that God is always in control.You can say; God have mercy on us but I would say…“God Bless America” because He already has shown enough mercy thru giving His beloved Son.

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I take issue with this “OPEN LETTER” because it did NOT discuss WHY Hillary would have been
the BETTER one for America to Vote for as opposed to “The Donald”.
We Americans only had 2 Choices. Were they 2 Good choices? Were they 2 Bad choices? But
there were ONLY 2 choices. If you look at the Electoral College Vote states, only those on the
edges of America voted for Hillary. the remainder of the US went for Trump. Even Calif was split for
Trump by counties. The Northeast section went for Donald.
So Americans saw something better in Donald than they did in the Hillary–Obama Ticket.
Donald was Very Honest in saying what he was going to do. He had a “Business Person, Take
Charge” Attitude. He didnt put up with the antics of the press. He didn’t put up with the Paid
demonstrators who Bullied his followers. Who caused riots, created damage and injury.
These are reasons WHY people [SDAs] voted YES.
And Donald HAS been Honest by doing what he said he would do. Perhaps not in the BEST way,
but STILL doing what he said he would do. He is allowed to apologize, and to correct some things
but he has Still been Open and Honest. He may have made some mistakes in some of his
appointees, but he can fire them later and find good people to take their place. THAT is what a
good, competent business person does, and can do.
The Majority of the United States states trust Donald. Many SDAs trust Donald. NO President has
been perfect. Never will be. Remember Nebuchadnezzar was God’s Man For The Hour.
Cyrus of the Medes and Persians was God’s Man For The Hour.
Nebuchadnezzar even got to post his OWN conversion story in the Book of Daniel.
PLEASE!! TELL US WHY it would have been better to have Voted for the Hillary-Obama Ticket!!

Edit-- Someone said there was a problem with Roman 13:1. Here is is
Be a good citizen. All governments are under God. Insofar as there is peace and order, it’s God’s order. So live responsibly as a citizen. If you’re irresponsible to the state, then you’re irresponsible to God, and God will hold you responsible. Duly constituted authorities are only a threat if you’re trying to get by with something. Decent citizens should have nothing to fear.
Do you want to be on good terms with the government? Be a responsible citizen and you’ll get on just fine, the government working to your advantage. But if you’re breaking the rules right and left, watch out. The police aren’t there just to be admired in their uniforms. God also has an interest in keeping order, and he uses them to do it. That’s why you must live responsibly – not just to avoid punishment, but also because it’s the right way to live.
That’s also why you pay taxes – so that an orderly way of life can be maintained. Fulfill your obligations as a citizen. Pay your taxes, pay your bills, respect your leaders. – Rom. 13;1-7 [The Message].

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An outsider looking in (to the US political situation) …
From a population of around 330 million, and the best that could be found to run for president was Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton? Astounding!

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I think the soul of this country started on its downward path when BO was elected and accelerated in the same direction when BO was re elected. Donald was elected with a huge financial disadvantage, a huge media disadvantage, a huge debate disadvantage with all the questions given to HC, a huge polling disadvantage, allegations of voter fraud, opposition from his own party and the Dems, paid fake protesters dogging him and attacking his supporters, by all criteria he should have lost…Key members of his own party distant themselves from him…Now you are trying to question our choices because somehow the soul of the GOP party isn’t the same any more??? Where was the soul of the GOP party during the last 8 years??? Why did they cave into with BO continuously?? Now when the GOP finally got a winner, you have the audacity to question the soul of the GOP party??? When the GOP finally has the guts and wherewithall to act, you question its soul??? I do hope that you are not a BS or HC supporter…

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It boggles my mind that anyone could possibly think that Hilary was a better choice. This woman is evil to the core, has anyone who voted for her read any of the books written by people that worked for/with her? She has an extremely foul mouth and is racist to the core, but pretends not to be to get votes. She was known for screaming, cursing temper tantrums when Bill was president. NONE of the secret service agents wanted to be on her detail because she was such a foul disagreeable person.

Should we be taking in people who want to kill us? Is it wrong to check someone’s background before we let them in? Is it okay to think that people who are not here legally have the “right” to be here? do they have the right to vote? Is it right to take these people in when we have thousands of homeless here that don’t always get the help they need? Most of all, are you willing to take these people into YOUR home to live with your family? Or is it okay to take them as long as “someone” else takes care of them?

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If you reduce these concerns to a common denominator, you will have to come to the conclusion that there is nothing DT has that TW, our highly esteemed “commandant” does not have. Overreach? Isn’t this what TW is doing with the union conferences? Dismantling? Isn’t this what TW is doing to our pioneers sense of autonomy? Not to mention the SECC. Alternative facts? Isn’t this how TW has mangled the scriptures to advance and foster two of the dominant pillars of our church, Male Headship and WO?

So where’s the beef?

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