Why 1500 Faith Leaders Have Endorsed Joe Biden and Kamala Harris

Joe Biden in church

Joe Biden in church

Photo from @MariannaNBCNews/ Twitter

I'm excited to vote for Joe Biden for president because I'm a Christian, not in spite of my faith. Thankfully, I'm not alone.

I'm one of the more than 1,600 faith leaders who've now endorsed Biden. There are millions of Christians across the country who are voting for Biden.

But our existence is overshadowed by conservative Christians, who receive vastly disproportionate attention in the media.

It's true that Donald Trump's religious violence and slander make for good headlines.

A crowd of protesters was violently dispersed from Lafayette Square in June so that Trump could stage his Bible photo op -- without opening the Bible. He said recently that Biden was "following the radical left agenda: take away your guns, destroy your Second Amendment, no religion, no anything, hurt the Bible, hurt God. He's against God."

Trump's antics distract the nation from the existence of progressive Christians.

The reality is that Biden is a lifelong, committed Catholic who speaks frequently about the role of his faith in his personal and political life. "My idea of self, of family, of community, of the wider world comes straight from my religion," Biden wrote in his book "Promises to Keep: On Life in Politics."

"Joe knows the power of prayer, and I've seen him in moments of joy and triumph, of loss and despair, turn to God for strength," Sen. Chris Coons said during the Democratic National Convention. A New York Times review of nearly 60 eulogies the former vice president has delivered labeled him an "emissary of grief."

One of the best stories about Biden's faith that I've read is his defense of activist nuns.

As vice president, he worked with Sister Simone Campbell of Nuns on the Bus on expanding Americans' access to health care through the Affordable Care Act. When the nuns' activism came under scrutiny from the Vatican, Biden seemed to take it personally. "You are being entirely too hard on the American nuns," Biden told Pope Benedict XVI in 2011, according to the Times. "Lighten up."

Sen. Kamala Harris is also a woman of deep faith. She speaks openly about her own Baptist faith, her interfaith marriage to a Jewish man, and the influence of her Hindu mother.

I witnessed how committed Harris is to her faith and the campaign's religious outreach when the first group meeting she held after joining the ticket was with faith leaders. "Faith is a verb," she told us.

During the vice presidential debate, she responded to Mike Pence's assertion that Democrats are anti-religion with an amazing clap back: "Joe Biden and I are both people of faith and it's insulting to suggest that we would knock anyone for their faith."

Supporting the Biden-Harris ticket is my faithful attempt to follow Jesus, who called on his followers to care about the most vulnerable, honor the God-given dignity of all people, welcome immigrants and refugees, and love their neighbors.

I believe that Biden and Harris will govern with a strong moral compass and enact inclusive policies to help the poor and marginalized in society.

The Trump administration denies the dignity of immigrants, instituted a Muslim ban, and mocks the sacrifice of veterans. Its signature "achievement" was a massive redistribution of wealth to the rich, whom Jesus spends a large portion of the Gospels deriding.

The three crises we face — the pandemic, a reckoning over white supremacy, and the ongoing destruction of our planet's ecosystem — require us to believe in a common purpose as a nation.

The Trump administration has exacerbated each crisis and is actively tearing our nation's social fabric apart. Biden and Harris give us the best chance to fight these battles.

After Trump was elected, I created a newsletter for progressive Christians called "The Resistance Prays," a place where we could vent, pray, and strategize to find a better path in 2020. We've prayed and engaged in activism at every awful turn of this presidency — including when he put children in cages at the border and turned a blind eye to white supremacists in Charlottesville.

Trump's appeal to Christians is to ignore that he's a living testament to the seven deadly sins of pride, greed, wrath, envy, lust, gluttony, and sloth, and focus on overturning Roe v. Wade and allowing religious exceptions to LGBTQ nondiscrimination laws.

But even those policies are rejected by majorities of American Christians.

Christian support for Biden shouldn't be remarkable. Nearly two out of three Americans who lean Democratic are Christians.

Democratic leaders including Barack Obama and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez speak eloquently about their personal Christian faith.

Obama singing Amazing Grace during the eulogy for the Rev. Clementa Pinckney, who was murdered in the 2015 Charleston shooting, was one of the most emotional moments of his entire presidency.

Ocasio-Cortez has appealed to her Christian faith in defense of her progressive policies. During a congressional hearing earlier this year, she said Jesus himself would be "maligned as a radical" today.

Ask yourself: What percentage of Christians support Trump's reelection? Your mind likely goes immediately to the 81 percent of white evangelicals voting for Trump in 2016.

But white evangelicals are only a small subset of American Christians. About 55 percent of Christians support Trump, compared to 43 percent for Biden, according to a recent poll. Several subsets of Christians support Biden over Trump, including 52 percent of Catholics and 88 percent of Black Protestants.

I endorsed Joe Biden because I believe the stakes of this election are high and also because I'm tired of seeing progressive Christian voices being left out of our national discourse. The attention we give to both sides is vastly tilted toward the Christians who support Trump.

We — the millions of American Christians who care about social, racial, and economic justice — must raise our voices to contest this distortion of our faith.

Guthrie Graves-Fitzsimmons is the author of the new book"Just Faith: Reclaiming Progressive Christianity."

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