A reminder that Christian does not equal Republican

By Emma Naille

Recently, I listened to a podcast called “White, Evangelical, and Worried About Trump.” And I can’t stop thinking about it.

Since starting college, I started listening to “The Daily,” a podcast by the New York Times, on the way to class each morning in an attempt to stay connected to what is going on in our country and in the world.

When this podcast was released, and I saw the title of the podcast and paused. I almost just hit play on my current favorite playlist, not wanting to start my day with this podcast.

But I didn’t. I hit play on the podcast. I listened. And I am oh so glad.

Despite its name, this podcast is mostly not about Trump. It is about Tess Clarke and her story. Tess Clarke is a Christian from Texas who voted Democrat for the very first time in this past midterm election.

She spoke about how growing up in a Christian home and going to a Christian school, where she was taught that Christians are Republican. And that was the end of it. So for the majority of her life, she voted Republican. She said it “felt righteous.”

But after teaching immigrant children and witnessing families separated at the border, Clarke said Jesus began to “change her heart.” She decided to vote Democrat because she felt the Republican party platform no longer represented her values. She said, “I care as much about babies at the border as I do about babies in the womb,” to explain how she remains pro-choice but switched parties because she believes Jesus values all lives.

It is not that Clarke, and many women like her, are not pro-life anymore, they are simply “pro-all life” as Clarke says. She poignantly explained the reality that we don’t live “single-issue lives,” and said, “the more I understand who Jesus is, my faith informs my politics.”

Clarke then explains how she wrote part of an article for The New York Times and her dad, who remains strongly Republican, has not read the article. My heart broke for her at that moment that she felt disconnected from, maybe even unloved by, her dad in that way.

The podcast ends with a phone conversation between Clarke and her dad about politics. I personally found the conversation very encouraging, because although I disagree with almost everything her dad said and was disheartened by the way he portrayed Jesus, I found Clarke’s ability to graciously, truthfully, and lovingly talk to her dad about her views very encouraging. It showed me that two people can love each other and disagree. In the end, she thanked her dad for being willing to sit down for the conversation, which I found to be representative of how compassionate a Christian should be.

I can’t stop thinking about this podcast because of how Clarke told her story and portrayed Jesus. She was genuine and authentic and spoke of the Jesus I know and love, which I haven’t ever seen “Christians” doing in the media. Clarke sounded so much like many Christian women I know. I could hear her heartbreak and her love for Jesus in her voice, and I felt it in my heart.

I related so much to her story, with the realization Christian does not equal Republican. She voiced many thoughts that I had been too afraid to share with my Republican, Christian friends.

After listening to her story, I felt as though it needed to be shared. I contemplated posting the episode on my Instagram story. I went back and forth about it because I never share my political thoughts on my social media. But, I decided that it was too important and too truthful not to share.

My post was met with a response of support by several of my friends, thanking me for posting it and sharing their love for the podcast. I’m sure many people saw the title and decided not to listen. I’m sure some people listened to the podcast and disagreed. But I’m glad my moment of courage allowed people to hear the truth. 

This podcast is a reminder that Christian does not equal Republican. A reminder that Christians, Republicans, Democrats, immigrants, and every other group of people is just that. A group of people, with real-live souls.

If you’re Christian, Republican, Democrat, or none of them,  I recommend listening to this episode of “The Daily.” I think it will do our country, not to mention the world, some good if we all take steps to understand each other’s viewpoints and try to love each other even when we disagree.