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Christians believe our true citizenship is in heaven, but what do we do with our earthly citizenship? Stories of Christians stepping outside their political boxes.

Now Streaming: #30 Where the Gospel Meets Politics


#30: Where the Gospel Meets Politics

Note: The Love Thy Neighborhood podcast is made for the ear, and not the eye. We would encourage you to listen to the audio for the full emotional emphasis of this episode. The following transcription may contain errors. Please refer to the audio before quoting any content from this episode. 

JESSE EUBANKS: Hey guys, it’s Jesse, and you have wandered into possibly our most controversial episode ever. That being said, I do have some exciting news for you. We have some donors that have stepped up and given us a generous, end-of-year matching grant. That means that every dollar that you give between now and the end of the year up to $34,000 will be fully matched, so we would really appreciate any generosity that you could show. So you can help us out by heading over to We promise we’re gonna put every dollar you give us to good use. We’ll keep making podcasts. We’ll keep doing boots-on-the-ground ministry. Again, head over to and help us with this $34,000 end-of-year matching gift. We need your help. Thank you so much for your generosity. And now, on to the final episode of season three of the LTN Podcast.


JESSE EUBANKS: Okay, so back on June 2, 2019, it was the middle of a Sunday service at McLean Bible Church in Virginia. That’s just outside of Washington, D.C. And do you know who the pastor there is?


JESSE EUBANKS: It’s a guy named David Platt.

LACHLAN COFFEY: Ah, I know David.

JESSE EUBANKS: Yeah. Okay, so David Platt, he had just finished his sermon. He steps off stage as the congregation prepares to take communion together. Uh, but when he steps off stage, he’s suddenly pulled aside and he’s told this — ‘The president of the United States is on his way here, and he wants you to pray for him on stage.’ So Lachlan, what would you do in that situation?

LACHLAN COFFEY (laughs): I don’t know. I’m so stressed thinking about this even and the question of it. I don’t know. It would be a hard one.

JESSE EUBANKS: Well, it was a hard one. So here’s what he ended up writing later about that moment. He said — ‘Sometimes we find ourselves in situations that we didn’t see coming and we’re faced with a decision in a moment when we don’t have the liberty of deliberation, so we do our best to glorify God. Today, I found myself in one of those situations.’ So President Trump does arrive and he walks onto the stage and David Platt prays for him. The whole ordeal — from the time the president arrived at the church to the time that he left — it lasted about 15 minutes. The next day though, David Platt ended up posting a public apology to his congregation, acknowledging that members were hurt by the president’s appearance on stage.

LACHLAN COFFEY: And some people in his congregation are like ‘Thank you for the apology,’ but other members are saying he should not have apologized?

JESSE EUBANKS: Yeah, and then some people are saying the very fact that he even apologized is offensive because you shouldn’t have to apologize, but then other people are saying, ‘You should have never done it in the first place and I won’t accept your apology.’ So David Platt suddenly like finds himself, y’know, getting it from all sides.


JESSE EUBANKS: So people start tweeting about it. Uh, here’s one person. They said, ‘You did great, brother. So glad he chose your church among so many.’ And another person said, ‘If I’m ever in such a position, I pray that I’ll respond as you did.’ But then other people responded by saying, ‘Would Platt have offered a similar photo op to an abusive husband who’s publicly gaslighting his spouse and kids?’ 

LACHLAN COFFEY: Oh my gosh. That, that escalated. 

JESSE EUBANKS: Another person says, ‘Afraid of losing that 501(c)(3) benefit, huh? Pathetic.’ 


JESSE EUBANKS: But here’s what I think this situation does illustrate for us. It illustrates that, y’know, even as I tell this story, everyone’s got an opinion.


JESSE EUBANKS: Everyone’s got an opinion on —

LACHLAN COFFEY: What’s the angle… 

JESSE EUBANKS: — did David Platt do the right thing, the wrong thing, what’s the president’s intention, his, y’know, his motive? And whatever opinion you state publicly, prepare yourself for the onslaught of people coming against you believing that what you’re saying is ridiculous. 


JESSE EUBANKS: And as Christians, we find yourselves going — ‘What the heck do I do?’


JESSE EUBANKS: You’re listening to the Love Thy Neighborhood podcast. I’m Jesse Eubanks.

LACHLAN COFFEY: And I’m Lachlan Coffey. Every episode we hear stories of social justice and Christian community.

JESSE EUBANKS: Today’s episode is where the gospel meets politics.

LACHLAN COFFEY: And if you’re like me, then you’d rather jump into a pile of broken Legos, but here we are. And before we get into what we are going to specifically talk about, let us just say that we’re not gonna tell you who to vote for and we’re not gonna endorse any particular party. 

JESSE EUBANKS: Instead, we’re going to take a look at the polarization of politics in our country and why this polarization causes two major problems for Christians. Welcome to our corner of the urban universe.


JESSE EUBANKS: So Lachlan, who did you vote for in the last presidential election?

LACHLAN COFFEY: Wait. Is this — are we —

JESSE EUBANKS: Lachlan, Lachlan, who’d you vote for?

LACHLAN COFFEY: I don’t feel comfortable right now.

JESSE EUBANKS: In the microphone, say it, say it.

LACHLAN COFFEY: I voted for (static)

JESSE EUBANKS: Okay so depending on what answer you just gave, like half of our listeners think you’re amazing and the other half don’t wanna listen to this episode anymore.

LACHLAN COFFEY: I don’t like how I feel right now.

JESSE EUBANKS: But that’s like, that’s how we roll with politics right now, right? 


JESSE EUBANKS: So even this week, y’know, the impeachment hearings are happening, and shockingly, just a few days ago, Christianity Today, the largest evangelical publication — so we’re talking about a publication founded by Billy Graham — came out with an article that was entitled ‘President Trump Should Be Removed From Office.’ So even among the church, like it’s just such a lightning-rod time right now where you have a ton of folks who just feel so strong in one direction politically, another direction politically, and then you have a whole bunch of people that just feel like ‘I don’t even know where I land anymore.’ So Lachlan, there was a recent study by Pew Research asking folks what they thought of the opposing political party. And listen to this. Here’s what people said — 49% of Republicans said that they are outright afraid of the Democratic Party, and 55% of Democrats said that they fear the Republican Party.

LACHLAN COFFEY: Half of the party is basically afraid of the other party.

JESSE EUBANKS: Yeah, and not just that they disagree with them. I mean they’re saying that they are afraid of them. 

LACHLAN COFFEY: I, I heard recently that when people bring like their boyfriend or girlfriend home to meet the parents, like that’s one of the first questions that now parents ask, like —

JESSE EUBANKS: Is political association?

LACHLAN COFFEY: Yeah. What party are you, y’know?


LACHLAN COFFEY: Which is crazy to me that that like determines affection for this person or disdain.


LACHLAN COFFEY: Yeah, it’s crazy.

JESSE EUBANKS: Yeah in fact, we’re seeing polarization rates that are comparable to the time of slavery and the Civil War. I mean folks are really on very opposing sides right now, and part of the reason for this is what’s called negative polarization.

LACHLAN COFFEY: I told you not to use big words around me. You’re going to have to explain yourself.

JESSE EUBANKS: Okay so negative polarization, here’s what it means — if you’re a Republican, it’s not because you like and agree with all Republican ideals and values. It’s just because you really don’t like Democrats and you don’t like their values. And vice versa — Democrats are Democrats only because they really dislike Republican leaders and Republican values.

LACHLAN COFFEY: Yeah, so it’s kind of building out this mentality of “us versus them.” It shapes us for like, y’know, that there’s only two options — it’s “our side” or “their side.” No one else, right?

JESSE EUBANKS: Yeah, but when we look at Scripture, we see that when it came to politics, y’know, Jesus didn’t look at things in the same binary way that we do, option A and option B. Jesus came along and said, ‘I have a whole other option for you.’ 

So in the Gospel of Mark chapter 12, Jesus is about to face a series of tests from the religious leaders. Essentially, the leaders are trying to trip him up so that they’ll have grounds to accuse him and shut down his ministry, so they begin asking him a series of trick questions. And one of those questions? It had to do with politics. One of them asked him, ‘Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar or not?’

LACHLAN COFFEY: It’s a yes or no question. But here’s why it’s tricky. The Roman government didn’t treat the Israelites, y’know God’s people, fairly. They were under oppression from the government. So if Jesus answered yes, the religious leaders could accuse him of not being for Israel and they would ruin his reputation. But if he answers no, he’s basically in trouble of being arrested and then taken away by the Roman government. It’s a Jewish catch-22.

JESSE EUBANKS: It’s actually a really clever question. But of course, Jesus is more clever. In verse 17 he gives his answer — ‘Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.’

LACHLAN COFFEY: So basically what he’s saying with this answer is — you think you foolish people that there’s only two options, but I’m going to show you a third option that you’re not even thinking about. 

JESSE EUBANKS: Yeah, and of course Jesus’ critics — they hated him for this because Jesus was stepping outside their boxes. And we can still see that same thing today when, as Christians, we step outside our political box. And actually that was a reality that a guy named David French learned the hard way.

DAVID FRENCH: So my name is David French. I’m a senior writer at National Review, and I am a columnist at Time magazine.

JESSE EUBANKS: Okay, so two things you need to know about David French. One is that he’s a writer for a bunch of big time publications.

LACHLAN COFFEY: Yeah I heard him say Time magazine. That’s kind of like the NBA of writing, right?

JESSE EUBANKS: The other thing you need to know is that he is devoutly politically conservative. So I don’t know if you caught it, but he said that he is a senior writer for the National Review. And the National Review, it was founded to help advance conservative principles.

LACHLAN COFFEY: Okay like so when you say conservative, what are we working with here, like how conservative?

JESSE EUBANKS: Well okay, so for example, uh, he’s an Iraq war veteran. Uh, he writes in favor of pro-life issues, the NRA. He writes in favor of religious liberty. He critiques transgender bathrooms. 


JESSE EUBANKS: So he’s very influential in the politically conservative realm, but also in the Christian realm. In fact, he gets contacted frequently by almost every conservative Christian organization you can think of, uh, sending him press releases or seeing if he’ll write a story for them. 

DAVID FRENCH: So when you’re a part of that world, you’re gonna get on those lists. And then I go to National Review where I write about these issues, and so then you’re on the list because people want you to write about what their organizations are doing. So I’m on virtually every one of these religious conservative mailing lists that you can imagine, or I have been.

JESSE EUBANKS: For years, conservatives loved David and they are listening to his writing. He is a card-carrying Republican. But then, one day, in one email, that all changed.

DAVID FRENCH: Oh, I was in my office at my house. I believe it was in the afternoon. 

JESSE EUBANKS: So David was going through his emails like he always would. And as a reporter, he gets a lot of emails, so he’s gotten good at like sorting through them quickly. But then, in the midst of sorting, he suddenly stops.

DAVID FRENCH: And I saw my name front and center, so it made me sit up and take notice.

JESSE EUBANKS: But the thing about this particular email was not that he saw his name because it was addressed to him. He saw his name because it was addressed about him.

DAVID FRENCH: An email from the American Family Association, which is a pretty big Christian public advocacy organization, urging people to sign a petition condemning my so-called yellow journalism.

JESSE EUBANKS: Now the American Family Association, it’s a Christian activism group that focuses on addressing issues like preservation of marriage and the family, decency and morality, the sanctity of human life, all things that David affirms and had written about. But now suddenly, the thing that they’re petitioning against — it’s him. 

LACHLAN COFFEY: Why? Like what is their deal here? What did he do?

JESSE EUBANKS: Well… We’ll be right back.


JESSE EUBANKS: Love Thy Neighborhood podcast. Jesse Eubanks.

LACHLAN COFFEY: Lachlan Coffey. Today’s episode is where the gospel meets politics.

JESSE EUBANKS: So we’re following the story of David French, a popular conservative news writer. But one day while checking his email, he finds that his conservative allies have created a petition against him, claiming that he wrote an article in a quote “biased brand of yellow journalism.”

LACHLAN COFFEY: So what was in the article? And also, just pause for a moment. Give me the definition of yellow journalism.

JESSE EUBANKS: Okay, so yellow journalism is a term used for news that’s not based on fact but rather based on sensationalism and exaggeration. It depends more on a shock factor than a real story to gain attention. So, in a nutshell, this petition was calling David out on an article that he had written titled ‘Franklin Graham and the High Cost of the Lost Evangelical Witness.’ And here’s David talking about what he had to say about Franklin Graham.

DAVID FRENCH: He had in 1998 written about Bill Clinton saying that if Bill Clinton lied to his wife and daughter, then it’s an open question as to who he wouldn’t lie to, which was exactly right. I mean, it turns out he’d lie to the American people, he’d lie under oath. 

JESSE EUBANKS: Okay, so Franklin Graham, he is the son of Billy Graham, the famous evangelist. And like his father, Franklin Graham is also an evangelist, but he also engages in political commentary. And in this particular instance back in 1998, Graham was calling out the serious nature of the sexual misconduct of then-President Bill Clinton.

DAVID FRENCH: So Franklin Graham raised a valid issue in ‘98. Then 20 years later in 2018 in an interview, he said, ‘The stuff between Trump and Stormy Daniels is really no one’s business but his own,’ which was a complete flip flop.

JESSE EUBANKS: Of course, y’know, Stormy Daniels is a porn star who said that she was bribed to keep an affair she had with Trump silent. 

DAVID FRENCH: I was just saying, y’know, ‘Look, we have to have the whole, the same standards for Republicans and Democrats. We can’t excuse sexual misconduct and lies from Republicans and condemn sexual misconduct and sexual immorality from Democrats. I mean, shouldn’t there be one singular moral standard that applies to both sides?’

LACHLAN COFFEY: So that makes sense to me. I mean he’s calling for integrity across the board here. So why did this create a petition against him?

JESSE EUBANKS: So basically the goal of this petition is to uphold the integrity of Franklin Graham, but it was also to tell David French, ‘You’re out of bounds and you cannot speak about people within our party in this way.’ Here’s part of the actual petition article. Here’s what it says — ‘National Review writer David French has wrongly accused Franklin Graham of having a double standard by not being openly critical of President Trump’s past while being public in his criticism of other politicians. Certainly, no one would agree that President Trump’s past is a perfect model of morality, but since our current president has taken the oath of public office, he has come nowhere near the glaring moral indecencies of Clinton while he’s served in office. This character assassination by David French is unconscionable and should not go unchallenged.’

LACHLAN COFFEY: So these are people that share David’s religiosities here, and now they’re against him.

JESSE EUBANKS: Yeah, they would share his religious convictions and his political convictions.

DAVID FRENCH: The idea that they would condemn me is kind of — even three, four or five years ago, I would have thought that that’s odd because, y’know, I’ve been a defender of religious liberty, protected Christians on college campuses in particular. And so that was a bit of whiplash, but at this point I’m getting, I’m getting used to whiplash.

LACHLAN COFFEY: It’s like David was the owner of a club. All of a sudden he rolls in, and his own bouncers don’t even let him in. They kick him out. 

JESSE EUBANKS: Well, and this is the first problem that polarized politics create for Christians. If you don’t wanna assimilate, then you’re going to end up politically homeless.

LACHLAN COFFEY: Oh, I see this all the time on social media. I mean, it’s singing one note out of tune with your political party and then you’re shunned, you’re kicked to the curb in the comments section, people are throwing up reaction videos. It’s a nightmare.

JESSE EUBANKS: Well, and this is exactly what happened to David Platt, right? The pastor who claims to be non-partisan is sprung with an impromptu prayer for the president, and everyone’s first question isn’t — ‘Did you do the right thing?’ It’s — ‘Whose side are you on?’ Uh, and we talked about how this negative polarization makes you hate or fear the other side, but it can also make you fear your own side.

JUSTIN GIBONEY: I began to see that a lot of people of faith felt like they couldn’t really maintain their convictions and run for office. 

JESSE EUBANKS: So this is Justin Giboney. He’s an attorney as well as a political strategist. That means that he helps run campaigns. And he started seeing this idea of political homelessness actually on both sides of the aisle.

JUSTIN GIBONEY: It got to the point where it became a given that on certain social issues you would have to compromise or surrender your convictions in order to even be considered to run. But at the same time, while that was going on in kind of the Democratic Party, I had friends in the Republican Party saying, ‘Man, now I, y’know, you feel like you have to surrender your convictions. I, I feel like I have to surrender my compassion.’

JESSE EUBANKS: Okay, so here’s what’s going on. The reality is that there are positive things and negative things about all of our political parties, both progressive and conservative. And polarization tells us that we have to accept everything about our party, no questions asked. But as Christians, y’know, that doesn’t sit well with what we see in God’s Word and here’s why. Okay Lachlan, I’m gonna go into some broad strokes and some murky waters here. But I’m gonna paint with a really broad brush, so just stay with me.

LACHLAN COFFEY: Alright, I’m buckled in.

JESSE EUBANKS: Generally speaking, the progressive party tends to emphasize empathy and compassion, but it comes at the cost of absolute morality. So here’s how Justin puts it.

JUSTIN GIBONEY: I do think progressives have an understanding and more of an appreciation for compassion and saying, ‘Hey, your circumstances do matter.’ Right? ‘Everything’s not necessarily equal.’ What I think progressives miss is that even when you talk about love, even when you talk about justice, it has to have form. And so without truth, without absolute truth in saying this is right and this is wrong, your love can actually become distorted. Your justice, it can become distorted. 

JESSE EUBANKS: And on the flip side, the conservative party tends to uphold truth and uphold morality, but often it comes at the cost of compassion and mercy.

JUSTIN GIBONEY: I do appreciate how conservatives focus on human dignity when it comes to the unborn, the appreciation of family and mediating institutions. Sometimes there is a lack of compassion. There’s a lack of understanding for those who are different. And when you don’t take the time to understand people, you may not completely understand their plight.

LACHLAN COFFEY: It’s kind of like this analogy. Y’know, you have one pair of pants that they don’t fit us but they’re like our dress pants, and so every now and then we get them out for dressy occasions. But they’re tight, they’re uncomfortable, but yet you wear them, right? And most of the time you end up forcing yourself into this pair of pants nonetheless, and that’s what it feels like for Christians in our political system.

JESSE EUBANKS: It’s like if I’m gonna go in, these are the only pants I get to wear. My only other choice is don’t go at all. Assimilate or withdraw, in which case we lose our ability to speak the gospel truth into the world around us. But this sense of homelessness became personal for Justin when he earned a spot at the Democratic National Convention.

JUSTIN GIBONEY: So in 2012, I ended up running to be a delegate at the Democratic National Convention. Ended up, uh, winning in the fifth district, go out to Charlotte for that, uh, Democratic National Convention.

JESSE EUBANKS: Now of course, part of the purpose of the National Convention is to narrow down a presidential and vice-presidential candidate for your party, but it’s also for working to solidify the party’s platform as a whole. And because he’s a Christian, one of the issues to be voted on had particular interest to Justin.

JUSTIN GIBONEY: They were trying to decide whether to keep the phrase “God-given” in the Democratic platform, keep it or take it out or, y’know, something of that nature.

JESSE EUBANKS: So the issue on the table was whether or not to keep the phrase “God-given” in the Democratic policy language. Now the way it works is that first you vote with the other people from your individual state, but then everyone comes together for one large vote.

JUSTIN GIBONEY: Well, when all the states came together, there was a voice vote, meaning whoever was the loudest would win.

LACHLAN COFFEY: Wait, so you’re saying like getting “God-given” in there is based on a screaming contest. Like is that what I’m hearing? 


LACHLAN COFFEY: That’s crazy. That sounds like how three-year-olds would come up with this. 

JESSE EUBANKS: Uh, well, and the outcome, honestly it wasn’t all that surprising.

JUSTIN GIBONEY: It was very clear that the people who wanted it out or didn’t want it in the platform were louder than the people who thought it should be in the platform, and that spoke to me.

JESSE EUBANKS: And this was a really pivotal revelation for Justin. Y’know, he thought, ‘Government isn’t representing everyone — it’s representing whoever’s louder.’ And he realized that people with a political home were more apt to be vocal than those without a home. 

JUSTIN GIBONEY: But I left that space saying that I have to do something.

JESSE EUBANKS: So Justin decided like he wanted to find a way to give Christians a political home, so he started by simply having a small group full of these ragtag Christians that are working in all levels of politics.

JUSTIN GIBONEY: It was like a Bible study slash support group. And these were people who ran their, y’know, they ran their county party or they ran campaigns just like I did, manage campaigns, and we would just come together and talk about what was happening. And everybody was uncomfortable with what was happening around us, but no one felt like they had a voice. No one — everyone felt like if I, if I say something that I’m gonna be, y’know, blacklisted, and I don’t want that to happen.

JESSE EUBANKS: And so this small group of people, y’know, folks that had been identifying as Republicans and Democrats and third party, y’know, it helped these folks realize ‘I’m not the only one who feels alone here. I’m not the only one having trouble because I don’t fully assimilate to either of these parties.’ And it gave them a sense of home with each other, even if it wasn’t a home recognized on a ballot. And just like Justin saw at that National Convention — if you have a home, you’re less intimidated and you end up being a lot more vocal.

JUSTIN GIBONEY: But one thing I noticed — once we met, everybody was emboldened. When we would be at a party meeting or something like that, they would be more likely to speak up in those meetings and do things of that nature because they knew they weren’t alone and a lightbulb went off to me and I said, ‘Okay, there’s something here, there’s something to this. Because I see my people being emboldened, I need to grow this.’

JESSE EUBANKS: So today, that small group, it’s actually not so small a group anymore. As it grew, Justin and his team, they turned it into a full fledged organization, and it’s called The And Campaign. 

JUSTIN GIBONEY: And the thought behind The And Campaign was we have this political landscape and this cultural landscape where you’re either about justice or you’re about values and moral order. Right? And we were like, well, we’re kind of about both, and when we read the gospel, the gospel is about moral order and justice. It’s about love and truth, compassion and conviction.

JESSE EUBANKS: I mean we talk about this all the time on this podcast, right? That it isn’t truth or grace, it’s truth and grace. Y’know, we need both. But in a polarized system, you’re forced to choose one or the other. And to be faithful Christians, we cannot do that.

JUSTIN GIBONEY: Because politics touches every aspect of society, for better or for worse. So what you eat, what your children learn at school, how immigrants are treated at the border, what is a crime, and politics presents us with a great tool for loving our neighbor. 

JESSE EUBANKS: Y’know, and for Justin, that’s just what his political affiliation is — it’s only a tool.

JUSTIN GIBONEY: I may agree with them on most things, but it’s a tool and I can always say ‘you guys are wrong and I’m actually not gonna support you on this’ because it’s not part of my identity. My identity is in Christ. I identify with the folks at my church.

JESSE EUBANKS: I think it just gets back to the truth that, y’know, we wanna be very careful about how much we uphold our own political party because as Christians we function with the belief that man-made systems are broken systems. And it doesn’t just mean that the other side is broken — it means our side is broken too. And the only eternal truth that’s worth upholding is one that isn’t broken, and that’s only Jesus.

LACHLAN COFFEY: We’re hitting on this issue of polarization and the effect it has on Christians, but I thought you said that there were two problems.

JESSE EUBANKS: Yeah, so the first problem of polarization is that it leaves Christians politically homeless. The second problem with polarization is coming up right after the break.


JESSE EUBANKS: Welcome back to the Love Thy Neighborhood podcast. I’m Jesse Eubanks.

LACHLAN COFFEY: And I’m Lachlan Coffey. Today – where the gospel meets politics. So we talked about one problem of polarization, which is that it creates a sense of homelessness for Christians in the political arena. But what’s the other problem?

JESSE EUBANKS: So it’s one problem that’s probably not that hard to guess. The second problem of polarization is that it destroys our ability to talk to our neighbor. Because let’s be honest, like we don’t know how to talk about politics with each other. And to illustrate this, late night host Jimmy Kimmel, he went out and asked both Republicans and Democrats to describe the other party. And here’s what people said.


Describe Democrats… Uh, just a general disdain for God and country in my opinion… Most of them wanna give everything away… Maybe brainwashed… I can’t describe all Democrats, but as my, um, learned opinion, that the Democratic party is a crime syndicate, not a real political party… 

What are Republicans like?… People that don’t have a clue… Closed-minded… Stuffy… They’re mean… In some sense, some of ‘em are racist…

LACHLAN COFFEY: That really escalated quickly there.

JESSE EUBANKS: Well that escalated quickly.


JESSE EUBANKS (laughs): Yeah, so, y’know, Facebook, they put out a statistic that says that 25% of its users said that they have unfriended or blocked someone because of political posts. Y’know, why do we not know how to talk when it comes to other people’s politics? Well that’s a question that two Kentucky moms started to ask themselves.

SARAH STEWART HOLLAND: We’re out of practice. I mean we’ve stopped doing it. We’ve decided that we’ll just agree to disagree or we don’t want to get in a fight and we don’t want to have any conflict with each other.

JESSE EUBANKS: So this is Sarah Stewart Holland. Uh, she’s a Christian and registered as a Democrat. But her friend, Beth Silvers, who is also a Christian, is registered as a Republican. Here’s Beth.

BETH SILVERS: Yeah, I think the less that we talk about it, the more it becomes almost like a secret that you’re nurturing. And you know how when you have a secret that you’re nurturing, that secret becomes even more important. 

JESSE EUBANKS: So Sarah and Beth, they first met in college, but their friendship really got going when Sarah started blogging. Uh, she mostly was blogging about life as a mom, which was what attracted Beth, but she also sometimes talked about politics. And since Sarah’s political views were often different, Beth actually decided to start messaging her about it. And what they found out was — it’s really hard to talk politics with the other side in a civil manner. But also, they were really tired of the mudslinging and the backbiting. 

BETH SILVERS: I mean, I certainly kind of arrogantly thought like, ‘Let’s show everybody how this is done for real in a way that’s healthy for American democracy.’

JESSE EUBANKS: So Sarah kept posting these blogs that were political in nature and Beth would read them and then she would make comments down in the comments section and then Sarah would respond to her comments and then Beth would respond to her comments. And so they realized after a while that they were actually having this public conversation back and forth between the two of them about their very different ideas on politics, and this led Sarah actually to have an idea. 

SARAH STEWART HOLLAND: You know, we started having these conversations around the blog, and then I said, ‘Hey, let’s start a podcast.’

JESSE EUBANKS: So Sarah gets this idea, y’know — why not make these conversations even more public? She knew that she wasn’t the only one struggling to talk about these things with people on the other side of the aisle. Y’know, why not create a podcast around it as a resource for others? Maybe people would be interested in hearing a Republican and a Democrat have hopefully a civil conversation about big political issues. So Sarah pitches this idea to Beth and Beth says yes, but she’s really reluctant. 

BETH SILVERS: I wanna say that for me it was not exciting at first. It was terrifying. But I was really nervous about doing this, and I thought, ‘What are people going to think about this?’

LACHLAN COFFEY: I could totally relate. I mean for me, I would never be on a podcast.

JESSE EUBANKS: Yeah, everyone’s gonna hear your voice and know what you think.

LACHLAN COFFEY: Yes. Well, and then on top of it, let’s address real hot-button issues.

JESSE EUBANKS: Oh yeah, we definitely don’t address hot-button topics on this podcast. I mean here’s the thing — it’s one thing to sit down with a friend over coffee and to talk about healthcare or immigration or tax cuts, but I think it’s another thing to sit down and talk about it and then like broadcast it to the world. 

BETH SILVERS: The fact that like we could not just get on and talk to each other without greater preparation and really know what we were talking about, and so the pressure around it started to build.

JESSE EUBANKS: But they decided that they were gonna give it a try. So they sat down at the mic, a Democrat and a Republican, and the rules were simple — no yelling, no throwing someone else under the bus, and give each other a lot of grace. 

BETH SILVERS: A lot of people sit alone, think deeply about issues, and then write down their opinions for everyone to consume. But when you do that, it’s really easy to do it from an orientation of ‘here’s why the other side is wrong.’ The way that we do it, I’m talking often to the other side.

JESSE EUBANKS: So as they worked on recording the show, they discovered some key principles when it comes to talking politics with someone on the other side. And I wanna share three of those with you.

So the first is “take off your jersey.” So often, y’know, we approach politics as a conversation that we need to win, that there’s a winner, there’s a loser, and it’s up to us to represent our team. And there is a place for addressing issues that way, but that’s not a conversation. That’s called a debate. And debating is actually a format that Sarah and Beth tried in their early stages of making their show.

SARAH STEWART HOLLAND: Because we had been watching a lot of debates from the presidentials. So we thought, ‘Oh, maybe we can do this better.’

BETH SILVERS: And then we got into it and just learned that like the format itself so steers you into a lane of being right and trying to win every question and seem more informed.

JESSE EUBANKS: So in their book I Think You’re Wrong But I’m Listening, Sarah and Beth write that talking with our jerseys on actually prevents us from having the kind of meaningful conversation necessary to implement any kind of real, helpful change.

So the second principle that they found when talking about politics was “start with yourself.” Y’know, one of the early episodes they tried to record was on the topic of welfare, and Sarah said that that was an eye opening experience for her.

SARAH STEWART HOLLAND: I worked backwards, right? I said I believe in welfare because of my values instead of saying ‘Because of these values, is welfare the best expression of those?’ It just sorta, it held up a mirror to my own behavior and said like, ‘Well, what’s the goal? What, what are we trying to do here?’ So just instead of working backwards from ‘I’m a Democrat, this is how I feel, how do I back that up?’ I tried to switch the direction and say, ‘These values are important to me. Is this working and expressing them in a way that I think is effective?’

JESSE EUBANKS: So do some self-examination. Y’know, what are your values and why are they important to you? So first, take off your jersey. Second, start with yourself. And the last principle is to “exit the echo chamber.” To illustrate what that means to “exit the echo chamber,” here’s what Beth had to say about her experience with their welfare episode.

BETH SILVERS: I found myself articulating the typical Republican position on welfare because it matched some of my personal values, that I believe that we want to encourage people to work hard. I worried about a system that incentivized people not to do that, but what I didn’t understand when we started the conversation is that a lot of the ideas that I was mimicking from that perspective had already been tried in the welfare reforms that the Clinton administration signed off on and to not great results. If you go on the internet, it’s much easier to go do some research that backs up what you already think and so there’s accountability in having a partner who disagrees with you because you must face the things that don’t validate what you think.

JESSE EUBANKS: But here’s what’s crazy, y’know, and maybe this has always been true, but, man, it feels more intense now than it ever has in my life, which is we live in echo chambers. 

LACHLAN COFFEY: Like we seek out the voices that we wanna hear.

JESSE EUBANKS: Yeah, I mean literally think about it.


JESSE EUBANKS: What do you do when there’s somebody that’s on your Facebook feed consistently posting things that annoy you?

LACHLAN COFFEY: I mute them.

JESSE EUBANKS: Yeah. We just block them.


JESSE EUBANKS: And what happens over time is I eventually teach myself, ‘I don’t have to listen to anything that I don’t like hearing.’

LACHLAN COFFEY: Well, and those 24-hour news stations have to be angled towards my echo, y’know.

JESSE EUBANKS: That’s exactly right. Like it’s not even enough for news to truly try to be unbiased. News literally carries bias as well.


JESSE EUBANKS: And when we don’t like it, we just say that that news is inaccurate or we dismiss it. 

Well as you might imagine, y’know, lots of people were interested in tuning in to their show. In fact, Sarah and Beth are still making this podcast today. Their show is called Pantsuit Politics, and they call it the home of grace-filled political conversations. 

BETH SILVERS: Y’know, I’m talking to a person who I know is in a different place than I am about some of these issues and I want to stay in relationship with Sarah, and so that really shifts the way that I’m gonna talk about it. It means that I cannot convince myself that everything is okay because the other side is so bad because here I am sitting with a representative of the other side who I think is a fundamentally wonderful person.

JESSE EUBANKS: And one of the things that I love about this is that this is the same kind of stuff that we see even among the disciples, right? In the disciples, Jesus has a Zealot who supported a very particular political agenda related to the Jewish people and the Roman government and then he also had a tax collector who literally worked for the very government that the first guy wanted to overthrow. And Jesus ends up speaking into their lives in such a way that changes fundamentally who they are, but he doesn’t tell either one of them ‘this is who you should vote for’ or ‘this is who you should support.’ 

So I wanna leave you with one final thought from Justin Giboney. So Justin actually recently visited Louisville and spoke at a local church on a Sunday morning, and he said something that I think is so helpful for all of us. Here is his call for Christians and politics.

JUSTIN GIBONEY CLIP: A Christian can choose a political party — there’s nothing wrong with that — but a Christian cannot choose between love and truth because they’re not in conflict. They’re interdependent. Ideological conservatism and theological conservatism are not always the same thing. The far-left’s conception of social justice is not always consistent with a biblical understanding. And as a result, when it comes to political ideology, to be conservative or to be progressive at all times and on every single issue is not only intellectually lazy and easily manipulated. I would say that it’s not faithful. If we go into 2020 and beyond, Christians on both sides of the political spectrum will need to ask themselves — Will we be accomplices or cross-bearers? Will we add to the tribalism and division, or will we be models of civility and reconciliation?

JESSE EUBANKS: I once heard a pastor say you know you’re following Jesus when those outside the church can’t tell which political party you are for.

LACHLAN COFFEY: As Christians, we need to be confusing to Republicans and Democrats, where they can’t quite peg us and put us into a box. We are confusing their ideology to a large part because that’s not our ideology. 

JESSE EUBANKS: Yeah, because our ideology isn’t always conservative and it’s not always progressive. Y’know, being conservative on every issue, it ignores the reality that God does not want oppression to be conserved. And being progressive on every issue ignores the reality that God’s truth cannot be improved upon. So the goal isn’t to be a faithful conservative or a faithful progressive. The goal is to be faithful to God.


JESSE EUBANKS: If you’d like to learn more about The AND Campaign, you can visit their website at You can also check out Justin Giboney’s podcast, The Church Politics Podcast. That’s a podcast where they talk about the big issues of the week politically. For more from Sarah Stewart Holland and Beth Silvers and their podcast Pantsuit Politics, head over to For even more resources on this topic or to hear past episodes of this podcast, visit our website at Also, this is our final episode of the season. Thank you guys so much for listening. We are excited that you have joined us on this journey, and we hope that it’s been helpful to you. Again, to help us continue to make podcasts like these, you can head over to We depend on listeners like you and your generosity. Thank you.


JESSE EUBANKS: Special thanks to our interviewees for this episode — David French, Justin Giboney, Sarah Stewart Holland, and Beth Silvers.

LACHLAN COFFEY: Our senior producer and host is Jesse Eubanks.

JESSE EUBANKS: Our co-host today is Lachlan Coffey.

LACHLAN COFFEY: And our producer, technical director, editor, and tyrannical dictator is Rachel Szabo. Additional editing by Resonate Recordings.

JESSE EUBANKS: Music for today’s episode comes from Lee Rosevere, Podington Bear, and Blue Dot Sessions. Theme music and commercial music by Murphy DX.

LACHLAN COFFEY: Apply for your social justice internship supported by Christian community by visiting Serve for a summer or a year. Grow in your faith and life skills. 

JESSE EUBANKS: Which of these was a neighbor to the man in need? The one who showed mercy. Jesus tells us, ‘Go, and do likewise.’ 


This podcast is only made possible by generous donors like you!


This episode was produced and written by Rachel Szabo and Jesse Eubanks. This episode was mixed by Rachel Szabo.

Senior Production by Jesse Eubanks.

Hosted by Jesse Eubanks and Lachlan Coffey.

Soundtrack music from Murphy DX, Lee Rosevere, Podington Bear and Blue Dot Sessions.

Thank you to our interviewees: David French, Justin Giboney, Sarah Stewart Holland and Beth Silvers.