Bethel pastor Bill Johnson recently wrote a widely circulated defense of his vote for Trump, after receiving much criticism for it. Now he is receiving even more backlash, and his dear friends and fellow pastors are being slandered by their association with him.
It almost makes Johnson wish he never wrote his defense at all, though he still stands by his words. He wrote again to share about the targeting his friends have received because of his words and about his shock at how the Christian community is acting during this election.
Johnson began, "We just finished the most painful and traumatizing election process I've ever seen. It has left nearly half the nation rejoicing while the others mourn. We are a divided nation. I've never witnessed this level of anger and hatred that we've experienced in recent days and weeks, tragically from both sides of the aisle. Sadly, believers are often affected by that same mean political spirit."
Referring directly to the backlash he got for his defense of Trump, Johnson continued: "In my 40 plus years of ministry, I have never seen those who confess to be followers of Jesus Christ curse and accuse at that level. It's so disappointing—not that so much for what was aimed at me, but that such hostility was aimed at anyone. It's inexcusable. Chalk that one up to ignorance on my part."
Johnson shared that his close friends and ministry associates have been criticized for his words: "The most painful part of this ordeal is seeing my friends suffer from my actions when I know that none of them would write what I did, nor would they advise me to do so if I would have sought their counsel. As a result, they are being rejected, criticized, and mistrusted because they are my friends. Ugh. Guilty by association. I will admit I hate that, and I've been on both ends of that 'association.'"
But Johnson makes the good point that people need to hear from spiritual leaders about these intense political matters."Many assume that pastors and spiritual leaders shouldn't speak about such things, at least not in a public forum. I don't agree. The United States was founded on a much different value system, one that required leaders of religion, education, government, etc., to voice their concerns or values. While it's become less and less popular, I believe we must hear from all our leaders. By the way, over half of those who signed our Declaration of Independence had seminary degrees."
The one thing Johnson says he wishes he could change from his original letter is directly naming Clinton. "There is one thing I would change in what I wrote if I had the opportunity to do so. I wrote to address ideologies and used 'Clinton' as the title for my target. I have worked my whole life to protect people I disagree with while at the same time addressing what concerns me. In this case, I made it about her. That wasn't considerate."
What do you think of Johnson's words and his experience of extreme criticism within the Christian community? Let us hear your thoughts and prayers in the Comments! Thank you!