NOTE: We were sent this open letter to Donald Trump by a youth pastor from a deeply red state.
The author has chosen to remain anonymous out of respect for church members on the other side of the aisle within their congregation, but their message is one that is echoed by millions of Americans today.
THE LETTER READS AS FOLLOWS…
“Dear Donald Trump,
Congratulations on winning the presidency. I heard you say “campaigning is hard.” I’m sure it is. I’m also sure that being President is going to be even harder. It’s going to be a heck of ride, don’t you think?
I’ll start by saying that I am angry. I am angry that my fellow Americans (through the electoral college, but that’s another conversation), chose you to be our next president. I am hurt, sad, and afraid that the leader of the free world is going to be a man who has campaigned on sexism and racism. I am worried about our nation’s relationship with the rest of the world.
I am trying really hard to be as graceful and dignified in the defeat of my candidate, Hillary Clinton, as she was in her beautiful concession speech. It’s really hard already and this is just the day after the election.
At first, I didn’t want to leave my house today because I live in a very pro-Trump area. I didn’t want to be angry at my neighbor. I didn’t want to curse at the driver in front of me with your name plastered on the back of their vehicle.
But all of that is on me. My fear, anger, hurt…the way I treat my neighbor and the guy in the truck on the interstate….all of that is squarely on me. I bear responsibility for how I speak to people and how I hold on to bitterness and anger. So what’s on you, then?
You see, Donald, I am a youth pastor. I am a father. I am a husband. In all those roles, I deal with women. And herein lies the heart of what I want to ask of you as our next president. In all of those roles, minister, father, husband, I have young girls and women of varying ages that I interact with on a regular basis. I want to ask you to consider this question: Are they not created in the image of God, the same as you and I?
It seems a rhetorical question. Almost like the answer should be “duh.” Of course women are made in the image of God.
But the reason I ask is because I’ve watched your campaign. I have heard your plans for immigrants, which would orphan thousands, if not hundreds of thousands, of young immigrant girls. I have heard you speak about your views on reproductive rights, and how you would punish women for having abortions (an unfortunate choice, for sure), how you would allow men to make virtually every health decision in the lives of women.
-I remember, as a child, seeing your name in the news because you had a very public affair with Marla Maples and divorce from Ivana.
-I have heard you brag about multiple affairs since then, as well as seen your second divorce and third marriage displayed in the public arena for all to see.
-I heard the tape of you telling Billy Bush that since you’re famous, you can get women to “do whatever you want,” and how you just start kissing them whenever you feel the desire.
-I also heard on that tape that you believe it’s ok to “grab ’em by the pussy.”
-I heard you defend that by brushing it off as no worse than things Bill Clinton was guilty of.
-I heard about a myriad of women reporting dozens, if not hundreds of women, of instances of you sexually assaulting them at worst, sexually harassing them at best.
-I have heard you call women “pigs,” “fat,” “sluts,” “nasty,” among other things.
And even though I’ve not seen confirmation of this yet, I’ve heard that in December of this year, as our President-Elect, you will be testifying in a hearing in a case in which it is alleged that you engaged in sexual intercourse with a girl was 13. Just the fact that I wrote that sentence makes me shutter at what you might be capable of.
Because of all of these things, and literally hundreds of others, I rejected your campaign for President and chose to support Hillary Clinton.
As I mentioned, in my ministry I deal with a lot of teenage girls. I spend hours with them, and the boys too, every week, playing games, singing songs, talking about God and the bible and life in general.
These young people are precious to me. It is my job, and more importantly, my call from God, to guide them in their faith, to protect them when they are in my care, and to show them who God is, by modeling it in my own life.
Our country electing you as President undermines everything I have ever taught these young people about their intrinsic value and their worth in sight of God, because of your behavior mentioned above. Because the man that will hold the highest office in the land does not treat women with respect, acts like women are property, lesser in value and just generally exist to be playthings at men’s disposal, I have to now work backwards and re-instill in them the sense that they are valuable to me, to each other, to their families, and to God.
As a father of two young girls, I have a long road ahead of me, I’m afraid. Not only do I have many of the same responsibilities to them that I have to the teenagers at my church, I have many added responsibilities.
As I said, we live in a very red state. My children go to school with many children coming from very conservative, evangelical families. Their extended family, both nearby and in other states, are mostly right-leaning. This means my wife and I have to balance teaching our children to respect the views of others around them, even their own families, while WHOLEHEARTEDLY rejecting those views. That’s quite a task for school-age children.
From the time I was a child and aware (Reagan) until now (Obama), even in the midst of major disagreements, I have found things to admire and respect in every American President. There has always been a sense of awe associated with the Presidency for me, and a lot of children, I’m sure.
I am incredibly sad that our next president will be a man I find not one admirable trait in. Not one. Zero. I am more sad for my children to lose the sense of respecting the office, regardless of who is in it.
As a husband, I’m appalled by any man that acts like he owns another woman, or that calls women names like the ones I listed above.
My wife is intrinsically valuable in and of herself. Her worth and value as a person, again, created in the image of God, is independent of her relationship with her husband. She is strong, smart, funny, hard-working, beautiful and a wonderful wife, mother and fellow minister, and I do not control her in any way. We are a team. We are journeying through life together.
Real men believe the women in their lives can make decisions for themselves and as a team. Real men don’t have to force women to have sex with them. Real men love, respect and cherish their wives. Real men don’t talk about women the way you have.
Mr. Trump, as a minister, I believe it is my responsibility to pray for the leaders of our government. So, I am making a vow to pray for you today. I will pray for you to govern with wisdom. I will pray for you seek God and the counsel of other wise men and women in your decision making. I will pray for you to learn to see the world through someone elses’ eyes sometimes, which is called “empathy.”
It would be nice for a President to practice empathy. You should ask Obama to give you some pointers on that on his way out. Anyway, I will pray that the men and women you surround yourself with as President will also seek and give wise counsel.
I will also pray for your heart. I do not know what is in your heart, Mr. Trump.
As a Christian minister, I make it a point to remember that only God can judge what is in someone’s heart. I can only judge you by your words and actions, which I can tangibly hear and see. The words and actions I hear and see from you do not reflect the God that I know.
The word “Christian” means “Christ-one,” or “little-Christ,” and we are therefore supposed to model our lives as such that people see Christ in us. I know you profess to be a Christian, but you do not look like Christ to me, and my ultimate prayer for you is that if that is not true, that it would become so, and that if it is true, that your heart would be reawakened to the love of Christ. Not so that you can rule this country as a “Christian nation,” because I don’t believe in that either, but so that the man in the White House is again someone my daughters can look to with a sense of awe and respect. So that the teenagers I work with would hear their President speak respectfully of all people. So that my wife and I have a president that we know worships and honors the same God we do and that we can find the common ground of decency, love, respect, honesty, diversity, etc.
That’s what is on you, President-Elect Trump. I’ll deal with my hurt feelings, my disappointment, my anger. I’ll make sure I’m open minded and respectful of views different than my own. But you’ve got some stuff on you too. You need to be honest about your relationship to the women in your life. We need to see you treat them with respect. We need to see you value all life. That’s on you.
I believe we can make this work, in spite of our vast differences. I want to believe that you want what’s best for America. I want to think that you will be a great President. So, let’s work on making ourselves better people, and then, and only then, we’ll make America greater.