The AND Campaign, a Christian civic education and advocacy organization co-founded by Justin Giboney, pastor Angel Maldonado, and recording artist Amisho Baraka, has released a convictional statement on the 2020 presidential election. The statement lists principles and values to inform Christians with a framework for how to vote in the 2020 presidential primaries and general election.
The statement offers the following six principles and values:
- The health of our democracy
- Race and voter rights
- The poor and pro-family economic policies
- Religious freedom and LGBTQ rights
- Healthcare and abortion
CEO of @CPJustice @StephSummers was an inaugural signer of the @ANDCampaign's Presidential Election Statement. What's in the statement? anti-poverty and pro-family economic ideas like #paidfamilyleave, a strong witness on religious liberty, and more. #AND2020 https://t.co/pAwYjnmuwF
— Families Valued (@familiesvalued) October 24, 2019
Initial signatories of the statement include Dr. Barbara Williams-Skinner, former Executive Director of the Congressional Black Caucus, Founder and CEO of the Skinner Leadership Institute and long-time leader and advocate in Washington, D.C.; the Rev. Joseph Darby, first vice president of the NAACP’s Charleston Branch, and pastor of Nichols Chapel AME church in Charleston, South Carolina; Richard Mouw, former president of Fuller seminary; Philip Pinckney, pastor of Radiant Church in Charleston, South Carolina; Derrick Parks, pastor of Epiphany Church in Wilmington, Delaware; Cornelius Lindsey, pastor of Gathering Oasis Church in Atlanta, Georgia; D.A. Horton, pastor of Reach Church in Long Beach, California; and Ron Sider, respected author and founder of Evangelicals for Social Action, based in Lansdale, Pennsylvania.
Faithfully Magazine spoke with Giboney about The AND Campaign’s 2020 Presidential Election Statement. The interview was conducted by phone and has been edited and condensed for clarity.
Let’s start from the beginning for those who may be unfamiliar with or who have been introduced to the first time to The AND Campaign. In a nutshell, can you explain what The AND Campaign is and what it aims to do?
The AND Campaign is a Christian civic organization. What we’re trying to do is help Christians engage politics more faithfully. In our opinion, what that entails is correcting what we see going on in the political arena. Our political arena seems to separate justice and moral order. Whereas progressives are seen to be about justice, conservatives are seen to be about moral order. But at The AND Campaign, we think that Christians have to be about both things. Christians have to care about social justice and moral orders or the values issues. So, we can’t buy into what we see as a false dichotomy. That’s literally what The AND campaign means: compassion and conviction, justice and moral order.
We do this through a couple ways. Number one, we’re trying to raise civic literacy among Christians and help them understand how to apply their values to the issues of the day. The other thing we want to do is give Christians representation to give them something to identify with. A lot of Christians feel like they don’t fit in on either side, so they either give up or they go all in with one or the other. We think you can be faithful and be a Democrat or a Republican, but you have to be Christian first. You can’t put your identity into the party or your ideological tribe. So, we want to give people representation, something to identify with. Next, we get into coalition building – bringing Christians together as a body to act civically together. And lastly, building up to actual advocacy on issues that aren’t all thought to be progressive issues or conservative issues, from criminal justice and poverty to religious freedom and pro-life issues.
Talk about the purpose and need of writing and publishing a statement like this. What is the void that The AND Campaign is trying to fill?
It kind of goes back to what I said about the purpose of the organization. I think the statement fits well within that purpose generally, and it’s the idea that a lot of Christians feel like they’re being misrepresented, especially on the right, right now. [They feel] that they’re being misrepresented by some of the Christians who are on the right side of the spectrum and underrepresented on the left side of the spectrum. So, what we wanted to do, our purpose, is to put a convictional statement out to say, hey, for the people who don’t really have a voice, to the people that you’re not going to see right now on the Sunday shows and doing the interviews and commentators, they need a group to speak up for them. We can’t complain if we don’t put our voice out there. What we’re trying to do is assert our voice for the candidates to hear and also for the Christians to have a framework to work with. We do want to hear responses from the candidates, but we also want to give Christians something to frame how they should be looking at 2020. And I think those two things are pretty much the basis for us putting this statement out.
“Now, the question is not whether you take political stances; the question is whether you let politics impact your faith or have a negative impact on who you are in Christ. I think that’s the question, not whether you get political or not.”
There are likely critics out there who will charge this statement as being “too political” or perhaps even siding with one political party’s platform over another. What would be your response?
I can’t say that the statement is for all political persuasions but I can say that it doesn’t cater to any of them. So, when people say that it’s “too political,” I don’t know how Christians avoid politics. I don’t know how we are good stewards and love our neighbors in the public square without being political to some extent. Now, the question is not whether you take political stances; the question is whether you let politics impact your faith or have a negative impact on who you are in Christ. I think that’s the question, not whether you get political or not. That to me is not really a criticism necessarily. I think to be political – if you do it the right way in the right context — can actually be a good thing.
The other thing is, I certainly have to push back, and people have certainly taken this position already since we’ve released it, that this statement is partisan. When you talk about the political left, I think they would have a very hard time with how we talk about religious liberty in some instances. I think they would have a problem with our statement in regard to abortion. This is a pro-life statement. The idea that any party would be okay with this statement, I think, is a bit much. We do have a critique of the administration. I think it’s a fair critique. We’re not going to be caught with any kind of false equivalency. So, we’re going to make statements when we think they are necessary. And I think the political right has to see those critiques and take them, but I think there’s a critique of both sides. What we realize also is that anytime parties are critiqued or challenged, partisans are going to have a problem with that. So, for us, it’s expected, that partisans, once you critique their side, they’re going to have a problem with it. That’s kind of the nature of the beast.
According to The AND Campaign’s press release, it seems that you will also be publishing a book in the summer of 2020. Are there other follow-up items that are going to be coming in succession prior to the 2020 elections?
The statement is just the beginning. What you’ll see with the statement is an expanded list of influencers signing it. We put it out there and we’ve already had influencers hit us up saying, “I would like to sign it already.” Obviously, we’re having Christians just in general sign it. So, you’ll be seeing lots more signatures. We’ll be keeping everyone abreast of where that’s at.
On November 14, 2019, we’ll be in Chicago for a rally and we’ll be throwing around this statement. We’ll be at Progressive Baptist Church in Chicago. And then on into the primaries and into the general [elections], we’ll be hitting on the statement. So, the statement is just the initial phase of the conversation where we’re trying to impact the way that Christians are approaching 2020. Certainly, as you see, not to tell them who to vote for or anything like that, but to help us frame better so that we can head into 2020 better than we came out of 2016. And we’re really excited about the book, which will be out in June of 2020, and I think people will really enjoy it and I think it will be helpful in how we view this race and the importance in how Christians should engage.
If I challenge Trump I’m a SJW😂
If I challenge the left I’m a Tom 🙄
I’m not in a hopeless middle. I stand confident where I am.
— Sho Baraka (@AmIshoBaraka) October 22, 2019
What concrete results are you praying that the Lord will do through this statement? What is your barometer for success?
I’d say growth in the Christians that identify with what The AND Campaign is doing. You go back to that representation question. We’ve been working on creating a critical mass of Christians to say, we don’t agree on everything, but we agree on The AND Campaign framework of compassion and conviction. So, we certainly want to expand that base, and that’s already happening. We do want some response, whether it’s from political parties or candidates. We want them to engage this statement, and I think those are the big things, just getting the voice out there and also having Christians rally around this statement like we’ve seen thus far.