Southern Baptist leaders encouraged Christians to be patient, pray and trust God as they await the results of the race for the White House between President Donald Trump and Democratic challenger Joe Biden.
In electoral votes, Biden held a 248-214 advantage as ballot counting continued Nov. 4, according to The Associated Press (AP). AP had yet to declare a winner in six states as of 3 p.m. (EST) Wednesday.
Of those six states, Biden led in Michigan and Nevada, while Trump led in Alaska, Georgia, North Carolina and Pennsylvania. If AP’s count holds up and Biden wins the two states in which he is leading, he would have the 270 electoral votes needed to become president.
The Trump campaign had already called for a recount in at least one state Nov. 4.
Southern Baptist Convention President J.D. Greear encouraged Christians to relax, demonstrate empathy for others and seek to represent God’s kingdom and not just a political party.
“As difficult as it is for us to wait (we’ve been waiting months for some resolution, after all), waiting is precisely what God has called us to right now,” Greear wrote in a Wednesday blog post. “So, we can be patient – more than patient, calmly patient, even relaxed – knowing that God is in control.”
The pastor of The Summit Church in the Raleigh-Durham, N.C., area urged Christians to respond empathetically to Americans who are fearful or concerned about the presidential election result.
“Empathy doesn’t require that you agree with everything that troubles someone, but it does require that you value them highly enough to ask questions, to acknowledge their hurts, and above all, to listen,” he wrote.
Jesus wins, Greear reminded Christians. “The certainty of Jesus’ eternal victory is as true today as it was [when He rose from the grave],” he said. “And thank God it’s not contingent on what happens in any given November.”
Russell Moore, president of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, said in a new blog post that the time before knowing the winner of the presidential race “can be a moment of spiritual and civic discipline for American Christians.”
“We can pray for both President Trump and, potentially, a President-elect Biden,” Moore wrote. “However you voted – or if you voted at all – you can pray for the office of the president in a way that is not dictated by how you feel about either of these men. You can pray for wisdom and justice and discernment for whomever is ultimately certified as winner.
“And you can realize that whether you are celebrating or grieving when that happens, somewhere approaching half of the country in which you live will be doing the opposite. That means whoever is president will need even more wisdom and prudence and discernment – and more of a sense of limits to what’s possible – than usual.”
Ronnie Floyd, president of the Executive Committee, called for Christians to remember God sovereignly rules, human beings and their systems are flawed, they are to proclaim God’s Word boldly and only Jesus can heal the United States.
God “removes leaders and He establishes leaders,” Floyd wrote in a Nov. 4 column. “His purpose is eternal and will be fulfilled. God has the final word. We do not.
“Whenever we know the results of this election, we need to trust God and go forward.”
At times, Christians need to speak prophetically to political leaders and the church, Floyd said.
“Arrogance, anger and outrage should never be found within us,” he wrote. “As God’s people, we should be marked with humility, love, and the power of God when we speak.”
Election day arrived after a campaign that proved divisive among American Christians. Some evangelical Christians backed Trump based on his support for pro-life and religious liberty causes and in spite of character shortcomings. Others, including many Black Christians, refused to vote for Trump, citing in part the president’s rhetoric on racial issues, his perceived hesitancy at times to condemn white supremacy and policies on immigration. Some followers of Christ voted for neither candidate and others for Biden in spite of his abortion-rights advocacy.
In an early morning speech to supporters, Trump indicated his campaign would go to the Supreme Court to challenge what he described as a group “trying to disenfranchise” Americans who voted for him.
“We want all voting to stop,” Trump said. “And we will win this, and, as far as I’m concerned, we already have won this.”
Later Wednesday, the Trump campaign – citing “reports of irregularities” – announced it would immediately request a recount in Wisconsin, where Biden led by less than 21,000 votes with 99% of precincts reporting, according to AP. More than 3.2 million votes were cast in the state.
Biden, meanwhile, told his supporters, “We’re going to have to be patient until the hard work of tallying the votes is finished. But we’re feeling good.
“As I’ve said all along, it’s not my place or Donald Trump’s place to declare who’s won this election. That’s the decision of the American people.”
It appears Republicans could hold onto their advantage in the Senate. If so, the conservatives who make up much of the GOP’s majority would have the opportunity to seek to offset the liberal proposals of Biden, if he wins, and the Democrat-controlled House of Representatives.
Republicans, who now hold a 53-47 majority in the Senate, led the Democratic caucus by 48-47 as of 3 p.m. (EST), according to AP. In addition, the GOP led in four of the undeclared races, and a runoff is set in the other race.
In the House, Democrats currently have a 232-197 advantage, with one seat held by a Libertarian Party member and five vacancies. As of 3 p.m. (EST) Nov. 4, AP reported a 200-185 margin for the Democratic Party.
The voting in House races resulted in the second ouster in this election season of one of the few pro-life Democrats in the chamber.
Rep. Collin Peterson of Minnesota, seeking election to a 16th term, lost to pro-life Republican Michelle Fischbach, the state’s former lieutenant governor. In March, Rep. Dan Lipinski of Illinois, an eight-term congressman, lost in the Democratic primary to Marie Newman, who was supported by national abortion rights organizations.
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Tom Strode is Washington bureau chief for Baptist Press.)