By Terri Sloan

I admit it. When Obama ran in 2008, I was against him. I was entrenched in the Evangelical Republican doctrine like a cookie cutter saint. I didn’t want Obama and his crazy liberal politics in the White House. I didn’t like Michelle in her sleeveless dresses. At reelection time, I went to the theater to see Dinesh D’Souza’s movie 2016: Obama’s America and believed every word of its propaganda; hook, line and sinker. I had been properly programmed. I had been hearing it, from the pulpit, for years.

Over the last few years, I’ve been conflicted with the Evangelical Republican agenda. I eventually found Barack and Michelle Obama to be kind and gentle leaders… good natured and smart. While I still may not especially agree with the politics of the Democrats, I have learned to love our President. He’s a good man who has put up with a lot of narrow-mindedness, nonsense, and, yes, racism; and he’s taken it in stride.

What we now see flung at Hillary – the rhetoric, the hate, the often baseless accusations – is simply an intensified continuation of the Obama opposition. It’s a fire that has been burning for a very long time. And it is now burning out of control. And here’s another admission: It turns out that I don’t find Hillary to be a maniacal, criminal, corrupt she-devil.

Hillary Clinton is not our enemy, church.

I have had the unique perspective of being on both sides. And I haven’t liked it. I don’t like that we take sides. That politics divide families. The blatant promotion of one-sided politics has caused me to leave my church. The puffed up and public rhetoric of this election season has left our country in fragments. The people and leaders of other nations are watching us in dismay. How can we as a nation hold our place as world leaders with this level of divisiveness? How can anyone take us seriously?

I long for a kinder, gentler time.

In his book A Farewell to Mars, Pastor Brian Zahnd asserts that, throughout history, nations have had an unhealthy need for a common enemy; otherwise they are likely to divide against themselves. And we’ve seen this in our own brief history. Of course, the Civil War comes to mind as the most horribly and obviously divided we’ve ever been. On the other end of the spectrum, after the tragedy of September 11, 2001, we were tremendously and obviously united – against a common enemy. I can’t remember in my lifetime ever witnessing such patriotism. But it wasn’t long before the next election season had us back at battle with each other. Is that how it has to be? We must have a common enemy or we will tear each other apart? I refuse to resign myself to this.

I am not so concerned with agendas, platforms, politics or politicians. I am concerned with families, neighbors, the poor, the disenfranchised, and the immigrant. Tomorrow when we go to the polls, we have been given the privilege to help decide whether our president will be concerned with those things as well. But whatever the outcome, let’s come back together. Let’s move into 2017 as a nation united; a nation which takes care of each other – regardless of the differences in our politics. Let’s remember that politics are ideas, but politicians are people. Let’s give our politicians grace and respect. We can disagree. We can vote. But in the end, what speaks most loudly about our nation and the kind of people we are is the level of grace and respect we give to each other and our leaders.

“If a house is divided against itself, that house cannot stand.” Jesus (Mark 3:25 NIV)