For many years I worked in a bipartisan way to pass legislation to reduce hunger. But I’m no longer the primary spokesperson for Bread for the World, so I’ve been able to take sides in this election. I’ve been actively supporting Biden and the Democrats.
As a Lutheran pastor, my thinking about this unique election is grounded in my understanding of God - the love of God for all people, Jesus’ mandate to help poor and vulnerable people, and biblical faith that God is alive in our world.
God’s love for the entire human family is the main message of Christianity. But President Trump is exceptionally self-centered. Right now, he is downplaying the severity of the COVID-19 crisis to help himself get elected, and he is clear that he will try to overturn the election results if he loses. More generally, his policies have favored people like himself (affluent, white American men), and he has come to dominate the entire Republican Party.
On the other hand, Biden clearly has a sense of God’s love for all people. I met him for the first time when Bread for the World was working to secure Congress’ support for a Bush foreign aid initiative, the Millennium Challenge Corporation. Biden led the two parties in developing the legislation together.
Biden is clear that he will govern for the benefit of all Americans, including those who don’t vote for him. He is also intent on taking full advantage of our current opportunity for progress against structures of racism that have long plagued our nation.
A second religious reason to favor the Democrats in this election is Jesus’ insistence on the importance of feeding the hungry and welcoming the stranger (Matthew 25).
Trump policies have been harsh toward immigrants and Black people. He and his party have consistently pushed for deep cuts in programs that help people in need. Over the last five months, they have stalled efforts to negotiate continued COVID relief, even though millions of families are struggling and child hunger is alarmingly widespread.
What Senate Republicans are now doing to block COVID relief is a clear demonstration of why it’s important to elect more Democrats to the Senate. Moderate Republicans are bound together with the 20 Senate Republicans who want zero COVID relief.
World hunger has also surged, mainly due to increased conflict, climate change, and loss of trade opportunities - all problems that the Trump administration has aggravated. The spread of COVID-19 is now further increasing world hunger, and the United States is not leading a global response.
In contrast, Biden-Harris are committed to help and opportunity for poor and vulnerable people. They will support safety-net programs in this country and effective aid programs around the world. Health care for all, child care, and elder care are important planks in their program. Racial justice is a major theme of their campaign.
My thinking about this campaign is also influenced by a biblical sense of God’s active presence in human life, not only in our personal lives but also in what’s happening in the world. I celebrate decades of progress against world hunger and poverty as a contemporary exodus - a demonstration of God’s saving power in our time.
But we are now experiencing economic hardship in this country (especially among people of color) and around the world. Our country is suffering more than others from COVID-19. We are living through extreme weather events, while our president continues to deny the reality of climate change.
The Hebrew prophets would call our current predicament God’s judgment. Pope Francis puts it differently. He says that God is calling us to use good judgment.
In my judgment, Biden’s “Build Back Better” program gives us a chance. He and his party will lead a science-based program to bring the global pandemic under control. They will focus on creating good jobs through investment in U.S. manufacturing, infrastructure, minority businesses, and the business of addressing climate change.
This election is indeed a struggle for the soul of America, and the health of our collective soul has enormous practical consequences.
So I invite you to join me in doing everything we can in the next eight days to help Biden and other Democrats win on November 3.