Justin Giboney: Christians and Politics DO Mix

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This is a podcast episode titled, Justin Giboney: Christians and Politics DO Mix. The summary for this episode is: <p>In this week's episode, Justin Giboney joins the show to discuss why Christians should be involved in politics. Justin is the Co-Founder of the AND Campaign, whose mission is to educate and organize Christians for civic and cultural engagement. Should the church be involved in politics? You'll get to listen to Justin and <a href="https://twitter.com/KeithSimon_/" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">Keith</a> discuss just that, plus you'll learn about the aspects of politics that are tearing our country apart. Tune in now!</p><p><br></p><p><strong>Ok, truth time... Did you like this episode?</strong> Tell us by leaving a rating or review! 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟 If you did, you won't want to miss what's next (so subscribe now!). And help a friend by sharing this with them. Thank you! πŸ™</p><p><br></p><p><strong>Plus, the conversation is just beginning! </strong>Follow us on <a href="https://twitter.com/truthovertribe_" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">Twitter</a>, <a href="https://www.facebook.com/ChooseTruthOverTribe" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">Facebook</a>, and <a href="https://www.instagram.com/accounts/login/?next=/truthovertribe_/" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">Instagram</a> to join in on the dialogue! <strong>Want to learn more about Truth Over Tribe?</strong> Visit our <a href="https://info.choosetruthovertribe.com/subscribe?utm_campaign=TOT%20Campaign%203B&amp;utm_source=Show%20Notes%20" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">website</a> and subscribe to our weekly <a href="https://choosetruthovertribe.com/?utm_campaign=TOT%20Campaign%203B&amp;utm_source=Show%20Notes%20-%20website" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">newsletter</a>.</p><p><br></p><p><strong>Resources:</strong></p><p><a href="https://www.amazon.com/Compassion-Conviction-Campaigns-Faithful-Engagement/dp/083084810X/ref=sr_1_1?crid=YVC3KP54UIB0&amp;dchild=1&amp;keywords=justin+giboney&amp;qid=1631808439&amp;sr=8-1" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">Compassion &amp; Conviction - by Justin Giboney</a></p><p><a href="http://info.choosetruthovertribe.com/how-tribal-are-you" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">How Tribal Are You?ο»Ώ</a></p>
How Justin got into politics
02:14 MIN
Origin of the AND Campaign
01:07 MIN
Should the church be involved in politics?
02:47 MIN
Opposite-centered politics and why it's not beneficial
01:27 MIN
The witness over the win
02:09 MIN
Why is there a difference between the way the white church and the black church handles politics?
00:51 MIN
Justin's view on BLM
01:43 MIN

Justin Giboney: I'm Justin Giboney and I choose truth over tribe.

Keith Simon: Are you tired of tribalism?

Speaker 3: I think a lot of what the left supports is satanic.

Speaker 4: The only time religious freedom is invoked is in the name of bigotry and discrimination.

Patrick Miller: Are you exhausted by the culture war?

Donald Trump: If they don't like it here, they can leave.

Hillary Clinton: You could put half of Trump supporters into what I call the basket of deplorables.

Keith Simon: Are you suspicious of those who say Jesus endorses their political party?

Speaker 8: Is it possible to be a good Christian and also be a member of the Republican party? And the answer is absolutely.

Speaker 9: From, certainly, a biblical standpoint, Christians could not vote democratic.

Patrick Miller: We trust the lamb, not the donkey or the elephant.

Keith Simon: This is the podcast that's too liberal for conservatives and too conservative for liberals.

Patrick Miller: I'm Patrick Miller.

Keith Simon: And I'm Keith Simon. And we choose truth over tribe.

Patrick Miller: Do you?

Keith Simon: Justin Giboney isn't afraid. Maybe that comes from growing up in a family in which he had to work for everything he got, or maybe it comes from playing football in the SEC. Wherever his courage comes from, he brings it with him into the political arena as one of the founders of the AND Campaign. The AND Campaign is all about educating and organizing Christians to be involved in politics. In today's cultural environment, if you're going to bring the Christian faith to bear on politics, you'd better be fearless like Justin. But that's not new, that's always been the case. The relationship between the church and politics dates way back before Jesus, and it's always been perilous. God gave prophets to Israel to call them to obedience and warned them when they strayed from the faith. But wherever there were true prophets, there were also false prophets. True prophets were loyal to God. False prophets were loyal to a human king. True prophets were motivated by God's priorities. False prophets were motivated by their own selfish priorities. For some, it was money, while others, it was the approval of the crowds. True prophets spoke truth to power while false prophets made their message more palatable to their audience. The Kings of Israel were tempted to listen to the false prophets who could be bought, whether by money or a seat at the table. These court prophets were nothing more than yes men who baptized the King's policies in religious language. Not much has changed. Politicians are always looking for court prophets who will tell them what they want to hear and rally the religious to their cause. In Israel, it was costly to speak truth to power, and the same is true today. That's why I's decided to speak with Justin Giboney. He's no one's court prophet. He's more concerned about his witness for Jesus than he is in winning an election. His loyalty is to Jesus, not a political party, and Justin regularly speaks truth to power. We need more people like him. And Justin sure isn't afraid to answer my hard questions, whether they're about how politics is treated differently in the black church than it is the white church or the Black Lives Matter movement. Okay, let's go, Justin, thanks for joining us on truth over tribe.

Justin Giboney: Keith, thanks for having me. I'm glad to be here.

Keith Simon: I just want to start with a little bit about your story. I find that people's political convictions often come out of their story, and so when you get to know somebody's story, you kind of understand how they see the world a little bit. I think you've got an interesting story from what I've read. So could you tell us a little bit about how you got involved in politics, why this became a burden to you, and just help us understand a little bit of why it's called the AND Campaign too Along the way?

Justin Giboney: I grew up with some exposure to politics, not a whole lot. My dad worked for the Denver Water Department, mother worked for the Regional Transit System, at times worked closely with the mayor. So I got to engage with the mayor in Denver, Colorado, from where I'm from, at least got to see them, got some exposure to that from time to time, I'd go on, leave Denver, Colorado, get a football scholarship to go to Vanderbilt University in Nashville, study social policy and philosophy.

Keith Simon: Were you a good student? Is that how you got into Vanderbilt? I mean, Vanderbilt's a tough school to get into. Were you always a good student?

Justin Giboney: I was a pretty good student. I actually got better, I became a better student with each grade. I was actually a better student in college than I was in high school and probably before that, interestingly enough.

Keith Simon: But you played football at Vanderbilt, right?

Justin Giboney: Yeah. I played football at Vanderbilt, that's right.

Keith Simon: What position?

Justin Giboney: Safety.

Keith Simon: And were you pretty good?

Justin Giboney: I think I did fairly well.

Keith Simon: Now, was Vanderbilt pretty good when you were there or was it one of the seasons they struggled more?

Justin Giboney: We had some decent seasons, but a lot we struggled quite a bit too.

Keith Simon: Who was a coach back then?

Justin Giboney: Woody Widenhofer for most of the time.

Keith Simon: Woody Widenhofer was the coach of the Missouri Tigers when I was in school at the University of Missouri, and it was some of the worst football years in the history of our school.

Justin Giboney: Uh-oh, uh-oh.

Keith Simon: I share your pain a little bit. So you played football there and then you bounce out of there and you go to law school, right?

Justin Giboney: Yep. So go to law school at Vanderbilt University, end up getting a job at a mid- size firm in Atlanta, Georgia. That's how I got to Atlanta. And then I always had a group of friends. We would get together and talk about either sports or politics all the time. And so one day I was like, " Guys, why are we being so academic about this? We should get into the game. We should actually do something political." There was a mayor's race coming up. We kind of looked up all the candidates, wrote some memos on them to see who we thought was the best. The one that stood out to us was a state senator by the name of Kasim Reed. We basically knocked on the door and said, " Can we work on your campaign?" And that's kind of how it started. We worked on that campaign from when it was, I think he was at 1%, 2% or something like that all the way until he ended up winning. And then that's kind of where my political career started, ended up running campaigns and running campaigns for candidates, but also for referendums and things of that nature, and that's kind of where it started.

Keith Simon: Let's go back for a second because what I read about you, I think you said that your dad and your grandfather, if I remember right, both wanted to be lawyers. For some reason, they couldn't. I'm not sure exactly why, but that you knew from a young age that's what you wanted to do. Is that right? And why couldn't they be lawyers?

Justin Giboney: Yeah, that's absolutely right. My whole life I just remember hearing my father say, " Hey, your grandfather wanted to be an attorney." And he just came up rough, just didn't have a whole lot of opportunities. His father was killed when he was very young by two white men. My father grew up in the projects, and himself for some time, not always in the projects, but just in low income areas in Chicago, just didn't have a whole lot of opportunities. And so I was raised very differently, partially based off sacrifices and had those opportunities, and so I wanted to take advantage of them.

Keith Simon: That's kind know what I mean by a person's personal experiences often shape their politics and their political engagement, because it sounds like maybe you have a heart for people who have been overlooked in the system or who have been left behind by the system. It sounds like you come from a family that had to work hard for everything they had. They face some disadvantages. Has that shaped your approach to politics?

Justin Giboney: Yeah, without a doubt. I think any opportunity that you get is to help folks who are less fortunate than you. It's not just for you. I don't have a very individualistic view of my career or anything else I do. I think it has to be about reaching back and bringing folks with you and giving other people an opportunity. So yeah, for sure, that's shaped my outlook on politics.

Keith Simon: So why is it called the AND Campaign? Help us understand that. It's not a normal name for a group like this.

Justin Giboney: While I was in politics and I was running campaigns, friends that wanted to run or folks that I was running their campaigns, there always seemed to be this false dichotomy where they had to say, " Okay, I'm all in for social justice issues, and then I kind of have to separate myself from these more conservative, moral order issues." And I never was comfortable with that, because I think as a Christian, you do have to care about justice, but at the same time, you need to care about moral order too, because in the Bible, there's not this false separation. There's not this false dilemma where I have to choose justice or truth and moral order. Those come together, especially when you see how Jesus interacts with people. You see the combination of love and truth of compassion and conviction, and that's where AND Campaign comes from. It's to say, whether I decide to be a Democrat or Republican, I will be a Christian first, and in part, that means I won't choose between justice and moral order. I'll choose both of them. I won't choose between my convictions and my compassion. Those things work together for Christians. I'll do both. And so that's where AND Campaign. Rather than" or, " and" meant we were bringing those things together because that's what the gospel.

Keith Simon: I just absolutely love that, and that's one of the reasons that I wanted to talk to you, because you approach politics as a Christian first and then as a party loyalist second. It's not that you don't identify with particular parties here and there on different issues. It's not that you don't have your own opinion. It's just that you've said those have to take a backseat to Jesus, and that means you're willing to criticize both parties when necessary. It means that you're willing to say, " Hey, Jesus- loving Christians can be a part of either political party or no political party." But one of the things that a lot of people say is that the church should stay out of politics. I hear that quite a bit, maybe you do too. But your podcast is called Church Politics, so my guess is you don't agree. So answer the question. Why should the church be involved in politics or should it?

Justin Giboney: I think it absolutely should, and I don't think there's a whole lot of Bible to actually back up the idea that we shouldn't be involved. The way I look at it starts really with the great commandment, love God and then love your neighbor as yourself. Now, if you're going to love your neighbor as yourself, to me that says you need to be socially concerned about them in the way that you would be socially concerned about yourself. If someone was going to take somebody in your family, Keith, and they were going to falsely imprison them. You're not just going to sit there and just let that happen. If the kids in your neighborhood are drinking poisoned water and your kid's one of them, you're not just going to let that happen. Well, if that's the case, then you need to do the same thing for your neighbor. And one of the ways, not the only way, but one of the most robust to ways to do do that is through politics, is to say, " I'm going to use my vote and my voice to make sure the people around me are flourishing." I think politics gives Christians a really good, big opportunity to promote human flourishing and defend human dignity. And when we don't do that, when we have that opportunity, especially in this country where you can't really be political... even not being political is making a statement because you didn't use what you had to help people. In this country, we're really being bad stewards if we don't use our influence and our voice to help others. So I think politics is one way to do that.

Keith Simon: I agree. There seems to be one type of Christian who wants to say, " We should maybe read our Bible, pray, go to church, tell others about Jesus, but stay out of the political sphere." But what we kind of say is Jesus is political, but he is not partisan, that Jesus cares about issues of justice. He cares about how we organize our society. He cares about how we deal with people who have hurt us or offended us. And so if you take that off the table, you eliminate a really big part of life that Jesus speaks to. I grew up in a political family. My parents were strong to liberal Democrats. One of the things that I learned in my life is that I think I had a contrarian streak. So when I was young, I just kind of ran away from what they believed, trying to prove my own independence. And at some point, I kind of realized I'm too tribal in my politics. I've identified, for me back then, it was a Republican Party far more than Jesus. I didn't become a Christian until I was in college. And I had to go through this process where I started putting Jesus above my tribe, the truth over the tribe. I'm wondering if you've ever come to that moment where you said, " I think I'm getting too tribal here. How did you realize that, and how did you get out of it?" Because I think a lot of people in our world today are starting to see, maybe I'm too far into my tribe and I need to get more into Jesus.

Justin Giboney: Yeah, I have had to have that conversation with myself and it's one that I talk about a lot, and I think it happened for me in the Obama administration. I think it also happened for me... I was a delegate at the Democratic National Convention in 2012.

Keith Simon: So this is Obama's second run in 2012 and-

Justin Giboney: 2012 was his second. Yeah, 2012 was his second, but that was also when you know the conversation about gay marriage and all that stuff was starting up. And it was very clear that the folks higher up at the party had made the decision of what they're going to do and didn't really care what the people on the ground and the voters thought. And it was very disrespectful, but it made me look and say, " Something's got to change." One of the big things that happened was in 2012, we were in the big coliseum where everybody comes, and all the different state delegations come. We had a voice vote on whether or not to keep" God given" in the platform, which is just kind of a nod to natural law, the idea that our rights come from God and not any human being, meaning that no human being can take them away from us. It was very clear that a lot of people there wanted that out. They didn't want" God given" in there. And so in that moment and during that convention, I said, " Something's got to change. This is not my tribe," and I had to look at how I had moved on certain issues, not because of what the Bible said, but just because I like this politician or I like something else. And so, there are places where I agree with Obama, there are places where I disagree. But I had to realize that sometimes when I didn't disagree, I wasn't voicing that. And in that, I was unfaithful, so I had to come to terms with that.

Keith Simon: Yeah. I think everybody has to have that moment where they start to see that they've turned to their favorite politicians instead of the Bible, that their loyalty has been to a politician instead of Jesus. And that's one of those eye opening moments, and if you will be open to that possibility, then there's a chance to move in the right direction where you put Jesus as Lord instead of politics as Lord.

Justin Giboney: And quickly, the only thing that keeps us from doing that a lot of times is, number one, the awareness, but two, pride. And so our pride really keeps us from saying, " You know what? I was wrong."

Keith Simon: Yeah. My wife would say I'm prideful sometimes, or a lot of times when I refuse to just admit, " Hey, I got a lot to learn here." So I want to stay on the tribalism and how it affects us a little bit. Let's stay with the current issue, and that is the vaccine. Everybody's talking about the vaccine these days, who's getting it, who's not, why not? All this stuff. But I think I've got it right. The vaccine developed under President Trump, and we're all aware because we all kind of witnessed it, the way he handled the COVID epidemic. He, I think at least, downplayed it, minimized it. As a pastor, I remember back at the beginning when he said we'd be back in church for Easter, turned out that was wildly optimistic. He didn't want to wear a mask. He didn't seem to take it as seriously as I would've liked. He was combative in those press conferences, and instead of unifying the country, it seemed like he used that as an opportunity to divide the country. Having said all that, under his administration, these vaccines were developed. Then he loses the election. He takes the vaccine himself after he's lost the election, and the vaccine becomes available in the public. Now we find that his supporters, a lot of them, not all by any stretch, but a lot of rural Trump supporters are reluctant to get the vaccine. Now, if you take the exact opposite, we had now President Biden and Vice President Harris, who then were running, who were downplaying the vaccine, " Hey, I'm not going to get the vaccine. You can't trust it, anything developed under Trump. Come on, people who knows. I'm not putting this in my body," And now, they are for the vaccine and they are encouraging people to take the vaccine. And so when I look at that, I just think if President Trump had won, his rule Republican supporters, would be getting the vaccine. And I just look at... I mean, I'm cynical because both sides seem like they're just playing for power. One day, the now president and vice president are saying don't get it. The next day, they're saying get it, and the only thing that changed is they won the election. I'm a little prone to cynicism. How do you get so involved in politics and not just become cynical at the whole thing?

Justin Giboney: That was a pretty good recitation of what happened because that's pretty much what happened. Church Politics Podcast, we begged people not to make this partisan because we knew, somehow some way, this very serious issue would just become a partisan football where people basically did the opposite of what they thought people wanted them to do. I mean, even going down to how some progressive cities responded to what they should do based on not wanting to do what Trump did and just doing the opposite. So it's really what we call opposition- centered politics, where I'm not looking for what's good and what's right. I'm just looking to be on the completely opposite side of the other folks so I can prove how stupid or malicious they are, and that's what we see. People do the opposite of what the other side is doing because their identity is so kind of ingrained in what's going on. How do I avoid that cynicism? By realizing that politics is a place where we need to find solutions that people are hurting and just remember how much people are hurting and say, " I can't get into opposition- centered politics. I don't care what Democrats or Republicans saying. I care what the best policy is and how we can help people." Christians have to bring themselves out of that opposition- centered back and forth.

Keith Simon: That's what we kind of mean by tribalism and putting tribe over truth, is when you're not even sure what you're for. You just know you're for it because the other side is against it. I think it's own the libs or own the cons just seems to be destroying our country, tearing it apart. We'll get back to my conversation with Justin in just one moment. As you listen to him, you can't help but ask yourself the question of whether you've become tribalized in your politics. We can help you self- evaluate, go to choosetruthovertribe. com and take our assessment called, How Tribal are You? It takes less than 60 seconds and we'll help you see if you're tribal, in what ways you're tribal and how you compare to other Americans. The link is in the show notes, or maybe listening to Justin has already helped you realize that you're more tribalized than you want to be. So maybe it's time you go to rehab. If that's you, then we invite you to take our five- day tribalism detox. It's all via email. We've got a detox for people on the left and a detox for people on the right. It's designed to help you put your loyalty to Jesus above your loyalty to a politician, to get your values from God's kingdom and not a political party. You can find the assessment or you can sign up for rehab at choosetruthovertribe. com. All right. Let's hop back into my interview with Justin Giboney. You made the case earlier that one way we love our neighbor is through our political engagement and political involvement, and I completely agree. But when we get involved, because our system is this two- party system, it's like they demand our loyalty, not just Christians' loyalty, anybody's loyalty. You've got to kind of be fully engaged, fully on board with the party. And I think that to some extent, that leads to maybe political power and the quest for that power corrupting the church. Do you see that, that the church is sometimes corrupted? Is there a way for us to avoid being corrupted by being involved in politics?

Justin Giboney: Yeah. I actually want to give voiced to some of the people who was say we should stay out of it. I want to give voice to at least the concern that, yeah, sometimes it has corrupted aspects of the church, and so that's real. I don't think that's a reason to stay out of it. I think it's a reason to be more careful and more thoughtful as we go into it. I think the biggest problem is if Christians go into politics and winning or gaining a position is the number one thing, you will be corrupted. So if the AND Campaign goes in and says, " Hey, I got to get this policy passed or I got to get this person in office, and we just got to get it done," we'll be corrupted. But see, for us, the win is not the number one thing. It's the witness. I'm a political strategist. I never go into a situation not trying to win, but I realize that when in conflict I have to choose the witness over the win because the witness is what's going to tell people what Jesus is about and what the church is about. The win can come and go, but people need to know what Christians are really about and what our principles are. That's the big difference to me.

Keith Simon: Okay, everybody, that right there is worth all your time listening to this. The witness over the win. The witness is more important than the win. I think we as Christians have forgotten that; maybe we never knew it. I don't know, but we are so intent on winning that we have some places and sometimes destroyed our witness, and people don't want to listen to us because they think we're nothing more than part of the political party, either side, Republican or Democrat. We've seen this throughout history, right? I mean, Billy Graham famously got used by Richard Nixon. Ronald Reagan seemed to use the moral majority to some extent. I know there's a little disagreement over that, but I'm pretty sure that he did. We interviewed a guy named Greg Locke, who... I don't know if you're familiar with him. He's part of Trump's advisory council. He was pretty honest. " Hey, I want to be in this conversation with Trump because I want a seat in the room." I want to be at the power table. We interviewed another guy, David Gushee, who is an Obama supporter and part of Obama's religious council, and he said, " At some point, I started realizing, I think I'm being used." I guess I'm just saying that there's a track record of both sides using Christians to accomplish their political ends, their goals. Do you ever see that? I mean, are you afraid that even the AND Campaign, even you might be used by a party to accomplish its end?

Justin Giboney: I think we always have to be vigilant. I don't think we should ever take for granted, especially in politics, that everybody is doing what they say they're going to do or their intentions or what they say they are. But I think the AND Campaign has some safeguards. We have a lot of guys with a trained eye for that stuff. I mean, if you listen to our podcast, I don't know if there's any politician that we don't critique very seriously. And so we focus on issues. We don't necessarily focus on a party. We don't focus on particular politicians, which allows us to push forward. A lot of people say, " Well, why don't you guys just get politicians and..." No, no, no, no, no. That's not our focus. Our focus is on the people. We're a grassroots- oriented group. And again, we're not just about winning. So we are willing to critique a politician who might be able help us in some way, if it means that our public witness is strong. I think that's why people listen to us. That's why we have a certain amount of trust. We don't play that game. Our tribe is the church. Our goal is to glorify God and our public witness, and we just have to stay vigilant with that. I think there are safeguards if you play it honestly and that you don't go into it thinking that there's anything that they have that you have to have. So if I go into the Democratic Party... and this is what happens to a lot of Christians who run, go into the Democratic Party, go into the Republican Party and you want the exposure that they have to give you. You want the positions and the committee seat that they have to give you. Once they know they have something that you have to have and that will rise above your principles, it's over at that point.

Keith Simon: They own you at that point. That's exactly right. So the witness over the win, and then here you're saying I've got to be able to say hard things to people who could do something for me, that have something I want. I can't want what they have more than I want the witness of Christ Church or my personal integrity. As soon as you do, as soon as you want that position, that seat, that place in the room, whatever it is, then they've got you.

Justin Giboney: And that's a general Christian principle. That's not just politics, that's business, that's on and on, right?

Keith Simon: You're right about that. You've made it clear that you identify with the Democratic Party. In other words, if I understand it right, and correct me if I got it wrong, but you're trying to put Jesus as he's who your loyalties to, your truth over tribe. But in this two party, mainly two- party system... I apologize to the Libertarians and the Green Party and those out there, but mainly a two- party system, you've identified more and are working within the Democratic Party. Help me understand why you chose the Democratic Party. What are the priorities they have that make you say, " I'm going to side with them, even in light of the places I disagree?" How do you prioritize the issues that say, " Hey, I feel good about identifying with the Democratic Party?"

Justin Giboney: Yeah. So I would first say that I'm no respecter of party as it goes. So I'm one of those people that I don't believe in partisan loyalty. So if some were to say, " Are you loyal to the Democratic Party?" Absolutely not. Listen to my podcast, listen to when I went up in front of the city council and what I had to say. I could care less really about the party. I see the party as a tool. I see it as a tool that we, as Christians, can use to do God's will. I live in a very progressive city, I live in an urban space. I do think that the Democratic Party has been more open to African Americans, has done more outreach to them. I do respect the position that the party has taken on civil rights and the history that it has when it comes to civil rights, and those things do mean something to me. Outside of that though, I'm going to hold both parties to the same standard. If someone is to come to me... and you say I'm a Democrat, and they assume they know what I believe based on that, they're going to be wrong. And that should be the case for a lot of Christians. So if I come to Keith and say, " Okay, Keith, you're a Republican. I know everything that you think. I know your whole agenda and platform," You should be able to say" You're wrong. You don't know exactly who I am." And that's how we should be and that's really how I try to go about it. As far as prioritizing what you care about, I think there are issues that really hit at the heart of human dignity. One of those issues where I disagree with my party is abortion. Poverty is one of those issues, mass incarceration. Things like that hit at the very core of human dignity, and I think those are the issues that we need to prioritize, even if we disagree as Christians on other issues, and other very serious issues. I think there are some that we should be very close-

Keith Simon: Much has been made about white evangelicals voting very consistently with the Republican Party. No matter exactly which poll you go by, which number you go by, it's clear that in the last several elections, really kind of since Reagan, white evangelicals have voted at least 75 to 80% for the Republican candidate. Now, at the same time, black Christians, and I know black evangelical isn't a phrase that's commonly used, but if we just say black Christians who love Jesus, believe the Bible, they vote overwhelmingly Democratic. I think you'll agree with that. You can correct me if I got it wrong, but I'm pretty sure I'm right there. So why is it a really bad thing for white evangelicals to vote predominantly Republican, but nobody seems to be bothered by the vast majority of black Christians voting for Democrats? Help me understand that. I've always wondered it.

Justin Giboney: Well, I would say this. I think it's bad for both to do that uncritically. In as much as we vote, either side votes for their party without critiquing it or without standing up when they go outside of what's biblical, I think they're both at fault. More recently, I think people have had a big problem because of, I think the Trump conversation. You see a lot of why evangelical saying for years and years and years that character matters and all those things, and then you get this guy who breaks every one of those rules. And it seemed like the whole time what you were saying was pretext or just a cover for really just wanting the power. I think that's one of the reasons why recently people have really been hard on white evangelicals because they clearly broke with what they had been saying for decades. That's a little bit of difference. But from the AND Campaign's perspective, we will critique both. We will say, " Okay, if you vote for somebody in the Democratic Party and they have this record of supporting late- term abortions and you don't say anything about that and you don't stand them and say that's a problem and push back, that is just as big as the problem as anything else. That may not be said enough. I think why you get a bigger kind of reaction lately is because of Trump, and I think what a lot of people think he may have done to the public square and that very clear, I think, conflict with what the principles had been before when it comes to why evangelical and politics.

Keith Simon: I was reading some stuff this morning, rereading in preparation for another conversation I'm going to have. And I was going back through, some of the stuff you just brought up, about how white evangelicals totally flipped on the character issue. If you just go back to Clinton and his affair in the White House with Monica Lewinsky, they were saying character matters. I mean, we can't separate a public life from the private life and he was going to set a bad example for kids and all kinds of horrible things were going to happen. And then during the campaign of what would become President Trump, you have Jerry Falwell Jr. taking a picture in front of a Playboy magazine in Trump's house. I mean, evangelicals criticized Jimmy Carter for giving an interview with Playboy magazine. You have James Dobson totally flip- flopping on the character issue. It went from being a big deal to, " Hey, as Robert Jeffrees said, we're electing a president, not a pastor." I completely agree that white evangelicals, too many, not all, we don't want to speak with a broad brush, but definitely flipped on that issue. I want to stay on this issue of the differences about how the white church and the black church handle politics. As a pastor, we would never consider having a politician speak in our church. We would never recognize them. If we did, I think we'd be run out of town, and I think kind of rightly so. But inside the black church, it's not uncommon for a politician to speak, to be recognized up front. Why is there a difference there between the way the white church and the black church handles politics?

Justin Giboney: And so, first, I would say, obviously, the black church isn't a monolith, but generally I think you're right. They are more open to including politicians in that, and partially it's because the black church has always been the center of life in general for a lot of African Americans. It was the center of economics, it was the center of politics. That was the one institution that we had that actually, because it was so organized, all that stuff was kind of a part of it. That's why it was never kind of taboo to have a politician come speak to the congregation, come address it. That wasn't separate from what it meant to be a Christian. Now, was that abused by some folks sometimes? Are there ways that that could be approved upon? Absolutely. But I think the general difference has been this was the center of life, economic, political, social, and all that in the black community, and so none of that was separated from church.

Keith Simon: Are you saying then that the black church has acted as more of a town square? I mean, yes, it was a church and, yes, it preached Jesus in the Bible, but it also had this function of a place where people gathered to talk and deal with life. And that's different than maybe the typical white evangelical church.

Justin Giboney: There just was no separation between the church and those type of conversations because that was our main place of organizing, our main place of fellowship and interaction.

Keith Simon: I've also wondered if it isn't because the black experience in the United States has been rough, I mean, a lot of oppression in the past... depending on how you define it, maybe even now. But it seems like black Christians have looked to the government to be a solution because they've had needs that white Christians haven't. Do you think that's fair? Is that a right way to think about why black Christians are quicker to turn to the government and white Christians tend to be more hands- off, laissez- faire, libertarian in their approach?

Justin Giboney: Oh yeah. I mean, you look at the major things that held us back historically, whether it be slavery, Jim Crow, it was, in many cases, government intervention that did that. Theoretically, I get these strong federalists or even libertarian points of view. But I think practically speaking, it's hard for African Americans looking at it, historically, to say, " Yeah, we don't want the government to intervene in anything." Well, if that's the case, we'd have a whole lot of problems because those were only taken away, in many instances, through government intervention.

Keith Simon: I got one more question, but it's going to be a little spicy here for you. So here we go. Chapter five of the book, you mentioned a well- known essay by George Orwell called Politics in the English Language, and you talked about how politicians often misuse language. Orwell said words like" patriotic" and" freedom" and" equality," they're particularly prone to being misused. And you warn people, be careful that you don't get caught up in a catchy phrase. Be careful that you don't get caught up in a vague phrase. We know how politicians like to name everything, this is good for kids act, because it's a way to get in their agenda through something that sounds good to the public. Here's what I'm wondering. What I'm wondering is do you think that the organization, Black Lives Matter, has used language in a way that you're warning us about in chapter five of your book? Let me set it up this way. You say in the book, look, you can't really oppose the Patriot Act. What, are you not patriotic? The Equality Act that's being discussed. Now, that's named in a way to get people to support it because who wants to be against equality. Or the war on drugs, who wants to be against drug elimination? We're all for that, even though those laws, those bills, they hide a lot of important truth behind that name. So I'm wondering if you think the organization Black Lives Matter has used language to engender support while hiding maybe more the agenda?

Justin Giboney: So let me say this. Black Lives Matter is obviously more than organization. I think that statement, in general, I think people understood it to mean black Lives have dignity, that black lives haven't been treated with dignity throughout, and so I think it was a statement that needed to be made. I think that the organization has put some things in public view and into the conversation that needed to be placed into the conversation, and I think when people criticize Black Lives Matter for what they've done and what they disagree with, remember that there probably wouldn't have to be a Black Lives Matter if the church had stepped into that void and done some of those things beforehand. So I just want to say this within context, so this is not just kind of like a snippet that we can pull out. That's very important to understand. Now I will say not everything the organization has done is something I agree with, in as much as they've used Black Lives Matter to promote anything other than black people not being shot by the police, black people having dignity. In as much as it's been used to push forward transgender issues, issues that are against the nuclear family, it has been misused. Anytime you have a statement that's that powerful, and I think it's a powerful statement that needed to be said, somebody's going to come along and try to misuse it for their own purposes. Unfortunately, in some instances, that has been the case, I can't say in every instance for the organization. But there are certain things that the organization has had on their website or whatever that I just disagree with. I don't play about the family. I don't want to see vague or negative statements about the nuclear family and the importance of that. I don't hold back from criticism on that, but I do want people to realize that that statement needed to be made and partially had to be made because I think the church hadn't stepped up in spaces where it could have.

Keith Simon: I think that's well said. I want to be really, really clear. The statement, 'black lives matter," I fully support 100%, full stop. Amen. But it seems like there's semantic overload in the term because when somebody says black lives matter, I don't know exactly what they mean. If they just mean black lives matter, amen. If what they're saying is that I am pushing the policy agenda of this organization over here called Black Lives Matter, well, I'm sure there's some good and bad there. We have to do a lot lot of examination and sifting through to see what's good and what's maybe not, what's biblical and what's not. It's just so frustrating when you have to be cautious when you say, " Hey, I fully endorse Black Lives Matter. I would love to be able to say that, but I feel like I have to qualify it, just like you felt like you had to qualify it as well. That phrase'black lives matter," I don't know the answer to this, so maybe you do or don't. But that phrase, was it originated by the women who started the movement or was that in circulation before the organization adopted it? Do you know?

Justin Giboney: I know the statement came first. The organization and the platform behind the organization was way after that. Exactly who made it up, I'm not exactly sure. It may have been the people who created the organization. But even if it was the people who created the organization, it wasn't attached to the same platform as it was when it first came out. Now I want to be, again, clear. There's parts of that platform that, again, that are good that need to be heard, and then there are others that I think take it into a space that really don't even have anything to do with black lives matter.

Keith Simon: Yeah. I agree, well said, Hey, Sarah Fuller, Vanderbilt kicker. Were you for that or no?

Justin Giboney: I wasn't expecting that one. The focus in football is winning games. I think as long as we're putting folks out there who win the games and that's what I want to see and not getting in the middle of other kind of debate, best of luck to her. Have no problem with her personally, but we want to focus on winning the games and so I kind of keep it at that.

Keith Simon: You're a politician, dude. I absolutely. OU and Texas coming into the SEC. You think that is good? Is the SEC just going to take over everybody or is Clemson coming next? How's this going to work?

Justin Giboney: I'm still trying to figure out how I feel about that. I mean, I'm not mad at Texas or Oklahoma for coming into the SEC. I just wonder how it impacts the rest of college football. I think the jury is still out on that. I don't know how it's going to end up. I would love to have multiple strong conferences because I think that regional rivalries and all that stuff is good and even the rivalries between the conferences. We'll just have to see how that works out. I was a little taken aback by it, but the game is changing. I don't want to stand against that change, but I do want it to be something where it helps the sport grow and helps these kids thrive.

Keith Simon: Just think if the new NIL, the licensing stuff had been in place when you were at Vanderbilt. You could have left with some money. You would've liked that, wouldn't you've?

Justin Giboney: That's definitely a game changer. That whole question is huge too, because it's like you had issues where kids could make millions of dollars, but at the same time, they were seen as amateurs. But then their parents might be at home, can't pay their rent or can't come to the game. And so I think that's a move in the right direction, although it was a little bit out of a lot of people's comfort zone, including mine. But I get it, I think it's right.

Keith Simon: Hey, thanks so much for joining us, Justin. Tell us how they could find you if they want to look into your book or podcast, where you are active on social media. Just remind us where to find your stuff.

Justin Giboney: Get to us on Twitter or Instagram with @ AND Campaign. You can go to our website, which is andcampaign. org, and then you can listen to the Church Politics podcast on Spotify, iTunes and all that stuff.

Keith Simon: Hey, thanks, I really appreciate your willingness to tackle some tough questions. I love what you're doing. God's blessing to you. Take care, man.

Justin Giboney: Thank you. Thanks for having me.

Keith Simon: Thanks for listening. If you found this podcast helpful, make sure to subscribe and leave the review.

Patrick Miller: And make sure it's at least five stars.

Keith Simon: Stop. No. just be honest. Reviews help up other people find us.

Patrick Miller: Okay. Okay. At the very least, you can share today's episode, maybe put it on your social, your favorite text chain.

Keith Simon: And if you didn't like this episode, awesome. Tell us why you disagree on Twitter at truthovertribe_. We might even share your thoughts in an upcoming newsletter.

DESCRIPTION

In this week's episode, Justin Giboney joins the show to discuss why Christians should be involved in politics. Justin is the Co-Founder of the AND Campaign, whose mission is to educate and organize Christians for civic and cultural engagement. Should the church be involved in politics? You'll get to listen to Justin and Keith discuss just that, plus you'll learn about the aspects of politics that are tearing our country apart. Tune in now!


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