I am a Christian, and a Democrat.

How I reconcile the two in today’s world.

As society is ostensibly becoming more polarized by the minute, it seems that people have a tendency to want to put each other in oversimplified, rigid boxes. For example: ‘He cares about social justice, therefore he is a Democrat’. ‘She is a Christian, therefore she is a Republican’. However, I would submit that people are complex, with many different facets of ideas and unique experiences, and that there is no room for rigid boxes anymore, but for conversations.

As a Christian and a Democrat, I have sat in countless rooms filled with people who assume they know my views on different subjects. Growing up in a predominantly conservative, Republican city, and attending a private Christian high school, I have had both my faith and my political identity questioned. For example, in a room full of Christians, it is almost always assumed that we are all conservative Republicans, and that the views that one person is sharing are agreed upon by all. When I happen to disagree, or state that my viewpoint is different, most often my faith is questioned. ‘I thought you were a Christian?’ ‘How can you think differently than the rest of us?’ ‘You must not really be a Christian then.’ ‘Okay, well the rest of us real Christians agree.’ ‘You can’t be a democrat and a Christian.’ Once that line of questioning is exhausted, my political identity is questioned: ‘You aren’t really a Democrat, are you?’. These experiences are frustrating to say the least, but they also create an opportunity for conversation. These conversations give me a platform to discuss ideas and issues that I care deeply about.

I want to announce to the world, and in particular my city of Virginia Beach, Virginia that Republicans do not own the ‘rights’ to being Christian. There are increasing numbers of us Christians out here in our communities taking a stand against the generations that believe ‘Republican’ and ‘Christian’ are synonymous. I can both believe in Jesus and stand for social justice. In fact, I’m called to. Isaiah 1:17 (ESV) says “Learn to do good; seek justice, correct oppression; bring justice to the fatherless, and plead the widow’s cause.” Likewise, Proverbs 31:8-9 (ESV) implores “Open your mouth for the mute, for the rights of all who are destitute. Open your mouth, judge righteously, defend the rights of the poor and needy”.

Many Christians today take strong stands against particular issues, perhaps overlooking other equally important issues that we are called to care about as well. As for me, I reconcile my faith and my political identity through looking at the life of Jesus. He came to serve the poor and needy, he came to love and not judge, and most importantly, he asked me to do the same. Micah 6:8 (ESV) says “He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God.”

It is time to put away our rigid boxes, and instead engage in conversations with those around us. In a city where were are often outnumbered, our thoughts and experiences still matter. Our voices can still be heard. But that happens through conversations; conversations that can be uncomfortable and unfamiliar, but that also have the power to unite our voices where we would otherwise still be isolated. Each time I have the opportunity to speak up in a room that is full of those who believe differently then I do, I have the ability to share my thoughts and beliefs to a group of people who may not be exposed to my perspective very often.

Republicans don’t own the right to being a Christian. I stand as a firm example of that. I am a Christian, and I am a Democrat.

~ Renee Thomas