Eugene Cho

the new [evangelical] voter?

Okay, I’m not trying to self deprecate but the fact that my Quasi-Angry, Asian, Christian Man face covers like 68% of the cover of the new Sojourners magazine is a little embarrassing.  I don’t mind publicity and love contributing my voice anywhere outside my own head but that cover is scary, no?

After seeing the cover, I now know why several of my friends emailed to jokingly say that they’re going to cancel their subscription to Sojourners.  Hey, it was a joke, right?

The article,The Meaning of ‘Life’, is well written and captures some thoughts from 21 people [including several from Quest Church] across the country on how their faith in Christ informs their politics – including the ethics of life.  Click on the Quasi-Angry, Asian, Christian, Man magazine cover to read the article.  I would encourage you to forward the article to as many people you know of that think that Christians are a monolithic group that don’t live in any tension.  I’m constantly amazed at the misperception and distortion of Christians in our culture.

QUESTIONS:  But seriously, how about you?  Whatever your faith or faithless background may be…Does it come down to one or two issues?  What’s most important to you as you discern your choice in the upcoming President/VP elections? 

Let’s have a good and respectful discussion.

EVANGELICALS ACROSS the country tell stories of their own transformation from a narrow concern for one or two issues to a broader understanding of the Christian call. Eugene Cho in many ways exemplifies these “new evangelicals.”

When Cho started Seattle’s Quest Church in 2001, he began with a handful of people meeting in his living room. Quest Church has grown to a congregation of more than 500 members, many of them young evangelical Christ­ians.

“Personally, I don’t want to be defined by one or two issues,” Cho says. “Obviously two of the bigger issues that are highlighted by certain groups of the Christian segment are gay marriage and abortion. And while I acknowledge that they are important to me, I simply don’t elevate them over other issues. I must juxtapose them with the war in Iraq, local and global poverty, and human rights.” [read full article]

And since the article covers the issue of abortion, let’s not hide.  We’ll talk about it in the next couple weeks.


Other Stuff about Politics You May Enjoy Reading:


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28 Responses

  1. Jeff Lam says:

    hey! you’re gonna sign my copy this sunday right?? =)

  2. DK says:

    I agree with your quote but I don’t want the big issues to cease to be big issues. Abortion should always remain a big issue for those who have a high ethic of life.

    Iraq War. Why are we even there?

  3. Sue says:

    I agree. You do look angry…but in a righteous way .:)

    To your question. I don’t know why this elections seems so heavy and burdensome. I really feel that this election will have a lasting impact on this country, our standing in the world, etc.

  4. la v says:

    hey eugene, that’s not a bad picture, although it’s obvious they didn’t touch it up… i can still see your facial hair.

  5. Eugene, I love the cover. It gets attention, no? But I do understand that sometimes we see a photo of ourselves and say, “Whoa.”

    If you’re interested, I did an interview of Korean-American actor Sung Kang. Here’s the link:

  6. Hak Kim says:

    Trying really hard to think of something insightful say… still trying… dang it, no cake.

    Elections should never be about 1 or 2 issues. But when the candidates are narrowed to 2 people, doesn’t it always come down to 1 or 2 things? How well are you suppose to match up with just two choices??? I’m not advocating more cadidates.. just that it’s the nature of these things.

    As for me, it’s a gut feeling. Of course, gut feeling got me voting for Bush in 2000.. I can never win. *sigh*

  7. Aaron says:

    My biggest priority is social justice… Now that is really broad… that covers many issues like war, HIV/AIDS, hunger, genocide… all the way to education and health care in the U.S.

  8. gar says:

    nice mug, pastor eugene.

    let me be the first to say that i hope God protects you from the crazies that are gonna start flaming you via e-mail for your views.

  9. ZC says:

    it’s like you see straight into my soul.

    in all seriousness, the issue that I most think about is how we as a country can shape our domestic, economic, and foreign policy to better live as a good neighbor to other nations.

    Much like we as Christians are to serve one another as Christ did, we as an aggregate are to interact the same way with everyone else on the globe. Good to see that Reagan’s labeling of the Moral Majority in the 80’s is starting to be redefined and dismantled.

  10. Kacie says:

    Our foreign policy is my #1 issue, both because it is the area where the president leaves the most lasting impression, because most of my family and friends overseas are in countries that are affected by our actions and policy, and also because I think we’ve sucked in this area. I think global poverty issues fall under foreign policy, as does the Iraq and Afghanistan War, our approach to the UN, trade agreements, and of course all the usual allies and tensions.

    I also think the economy and education are extremely important right now. Unfortunately, I don’t understand the economy so it doesn’t sway my vote, and I don’t think either candidate has truly come out swinging on education.

  11. Kari Byrd says:

    I’m looking at the economy, healthcare, and foreign policy as my biggest issues. I also take into account how intelligent, strategic, thoughtful, and nuanced the candidates seem to be when it comes to tackling problems. Their VP choice matters. And finally, I look at how in touch the person is with the lifestyle (and challenges) of the average American.

    I was thinking last night that if your major issue is abortion, I don’t think it’s wise to base your vote on this- especially in this election. McCain said in the debate that he wouldn’t pick a Supreme Court Justice based on their views of abortion. So it doesn’t seem like much of anything will change.

  12. don’t hate yourself just because you’re (ethnically) beautiful.

    i blogged about how you have an ethnic beauty a couple weeks ago. so far, two people in the whole wide world agree.

  13. Daniel Yang says:

    I’m glad to see that younger Evangelicals have a more holistic approach in regards to the protection of human life — the unborn, the poor and the discriminated.

    Like many, I don’t think this issue will be solved simply through policies and legislation. However, we should recognize that policies and legislation show an advancement of our cause to value and protect life.

    Blacks in America would not have been satisified if Dr. King and civil rights leaders simply took a holistic approach to solving discrimination in America without expecting to see laws changed — without expecting Americans to change the way they think about race and ethnicity.

    As we carefully nuance our position and become creative in how we represent it, we should also becareful not to abandon the political principle on which we stand — and that is a constitutional law that values life in the highest degree.

  14. Arthur says:

    I think it is a little dangerous as Christians to start to look to the government to solve issues of social justice and poverty. I think God commands us to love our neighbor and I would rather have more of God’s money available to steward than turn it over to the government.

  15. Jim Peterson says:

    Hey! What a great article. It is so good to see the Biblical common sense in a major publication like that. For years I have felt alienated by the political polarization of the U.S. As a follower of Jesus, sanctity of life is a huge priority in my world view. If we single out specific sanctity of life issues, I think there are at least 4 or 5 that need to be included in any discussion of the topic. Abortion, euthanasia and assisted suicide, capital punishment and war. Strangely enough, the political right is opposed to the first two but generally supports the latter two. The political left supports the first two and is often opposed to the latter two.

    As Christians we need to break down that simplistic polarization and demonstrate that Jesus demands that we give attention to all of the issues.

    And it only takes a bit more Biblical common sense to realize that numerous other issues like the environment, world economics and social welfare/health care are inherently and inextricably related the question of the sanctity of life.

    Let’s work to break down the “one issue” approach to politics, in the name of Christ!

  16. Tom says:

    Agree completely with the wisdom of a more general ‘pro-life’ approach. That approach has been making headway, little by little, for decades. A small percentage of us at Fuller back in the early 80’s were promoting an evangelical version of Catholic social teaching, and it’s been encouraging to see that approach gain traction, particularly recently among younger evangelicals influenced by both the failures of single issue approaches and by a greater cultural openness to viewing ethical issues in more complex ways. I think the latter is evidence of a movement toward ‘post-evangelicalism,’ which may have many of the same core beliefs as evangelicalism but will have a very different way of looking at the world and at ethical and political issues. I’m delighted by that shift–just in time! :^)

    I think the lack of a full on commitment to reduce abortions by the democrats and progressives is still the greatest obstacle to seeing large numbers of evangelicals vote blue. In the 70’s and before, large percentages of evangelicals routinely voted for democratic candidates; many folks now don’t remember that Newsweek proclaimed 1976 the ‘year of the evangelical’ as a way of recognizing the surging political importance of evangelicals, but many of those surging folks were voting for progressive democrats and Jimmy Carter. Hard to imagine that kind of thing today. The difference? Roe v Wade, and a very skillful manipulation of anti-abortion sentiment on the part of the political right.

    I consider myself a kind of ‘Christian anarchist’ politically, but often lean toward the left because I feel they generally represent a more holistic ‘pro-life’ approach–across a whole variety of economic, foreign policy and social issues–than the right has in the past few decades. So I often vote that way but am conscience struck to be supporting folks that haven’t taken abortion reduction seriously. I’d love to see many younger evangelicals (‘post-evangelicals?’) get involved with the political left in order to bring its abortion stance into line with its generally very pro-life approach. With that shift I think the political left would be a natural home for many post-evangelicals. Certainly, Sojourners has been trying to make that case for many years.

  17. PK says:

    Thanks for posting the article and also for bringing this up. As the election season continues to progress into its inevitable frenzy for the next 35 days, I’m always struck by the conversation about Christian voting. I’ve read numerous books about Christianity and politics to try to understand and be thoughtful about voting (like Campolo’s Red Letter Christian) – what would Jesus do at the voting booth?

    “It is precisely this inclusive thinking that exemplifies the remarkable transformation that has come over a demographic whose votes in previous elections were predictably based upon two wedge issues. Many evangelicals today are no longer comfortable voting on a narrow understanding of what constitutes a “pro-life” stance.” That is very much me… But I also think living life has attributed to the transformation. Young voters, especially, encounter life in a different way than our generation and before. Issues like pro-life/pro-choice may hit much closer to home than in the past. When these “wedge” issues hit closer to home or directly affect us, I think it makes us look at our voting booth decision in a much different light. I also think that, as Christians, we are seeing more and more of the interconnectedness of life (on the whole or in general), which sheds a new light on party line voting. As Christians, we cannot vote simply along one or two issues and let our candidates be irresponsible in their stands and decisions in everything else.

  18. HK says:

    I am totally going to get a copy of this cover and show it to my boys and say “Look! Positive depiction of Asian American male in the media!” So very cool of Sojourners to do this.

  19. beattieblog says:

    How great is that cover? That’s very cool, Eugene. The issues for me? You nailed one of them in your quote about not elevating one or two issues above other important ones reflected in scripture. I’ve also thought a lot about Obama representing a transition from the past 30 years of presidents who’ve all been on one side or the other in the culture wars which began in the 1960s. Obama was obviously alive in the 1960s and 70s but he was not a young adult out participating in the ‘culture wars’. I think this has led to the bitter partisanship in government we’ve sen particularly in the past 2 presidencies. I’m hoping that Obama will mark somewhat of a distancing from this and offer new and more nuanced ways to talk about issues (e.g. war, ecology, abortion, gay marriage, poverty, etc.)

  20. The Reformer says:

    I agree with the article 100%. I am the “new evangelical voter” they were referring too. I have been a registered republican my whole life. I have never voted for a democratic governor, Congressmen, judge, city council member, etc. I voted for Bush twice and always fought against gay rights and abortion. I have been a born-again Christian for 15 years, I was a youth pastor, a community volunteer, a well traveled camp speaker, a church administrator. Then I found the Gospel of Jesus. You see up until a few years ago my entire Christianity was based on human works. Everything I did, I did to earn God’s and others love. I had no idea what a fraud I was. But Christ broke me. There I lay on evening, face down before the father, crying out for change in my life. I realized I was lost in a world of church politics that left me cold and empty. I was judgmental, uncaring, prideful and arrogant. I thought I was going to be first in line for God’s blessings on my life, when in reality I as the Bible says, I was the least of the least. This article hit home with me, because since 2006 I vote with my mind. I think rationally and do my best to think about the bigger picture. Yes Obama is pro-choice, but he’s also anti-war, anti-death penalty, and for the poor. We only have two candidates this election. Nether of them is a 100% great choice, but one of them has a better grasp on our future.

  21. […] sharing my choice but I hope you understand.  As I’ve shared before, while I openly share the larger issues that matter to me, I made a decision NOT to divulge who I am voting for as long as I am in active pastoral ministry. […]

  22. […] than [can’t find a good word here].  But I still struggle with it.  Even while I was genuine in my quote in Sojourners that “I don’t want to be defined by one or two issues” – I still care much about […]

  23. […] about those words or my views. I had several folks at my church get upset when I agreed to be on the cover of Sojourners during the last election season since Sojourners is associated by some as the liberal folks that […]

  24. […] whole of scripture. For example, I had several folks at my church get upset when I agreed to be on the cover of Sojourners during the last election season since Sojourners is seen by some as “those liberal folks that […]

  25. […] Coverage: New York Times | NPR interview | Seattle Times (One Day’s Wages) | Sojourners Magazine | Portrait in the Seattle Times | Seattle Post Intelligencer Article | | NBC News […]

  26. […] a certain view. I even had couple people leave the church simply because my face appeared on this cover of the “ultra liberal left-wing” Sojourners […]

  27. […] a certain view. I even had couple people leave the church simply because my face appeared on this cover of the “ultra liberal left-wing” Sojourners […]

  28. […] This is why we need discerning voters. Folks that will dig beyond the politicization (and manipulation). We have to attempt to humbly and discerningly become “the new evangelical voter.“ […]

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One Day’s Wages

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People often ask, "How does one stand all that rain in Seattle?" Actually, it doesn't rain that much. I like the rain. Keeps everything "evergreen" and clean. Keeps our air fresh. What's challenging is the gray weather. Give me a few more sunny days. 99 more days to be specific. 
Regardless, still love this city. Checking out Canada in case I need to move up North after the presidential election. Just saying, eh.

Downtown Toronto. Fascinating architecture. Amazed by the diversity of this city. We desperately want our children to not just be captivated by the beauty of creation...but more importantly, to the actual Creator of all that is good and beautiful.

Actually, we want and need this truth for our souls, too. What a privilege. This isn't possible without all those who give, pray, and support the work of @onedayswages. This week, I signed and mailed grants to three partner organizations totaling over $170,000. These grants will empower people by supporting maternal health care, refugee relief efforts, access to clean water, provide education, etc.

Sometimes, the brokenness of the world feel so overwhelming but let's keep running the race with endurance. Let's keep pursuing justice, mercy, and humility. Let's be faithful and may we be spurred on to keep working for God's Kingdom...on earth as it is in heaven.

Again, thank you so much for your support for @onedayswages! My wife, Minhee, and I stand on the shoulders of praying mothers. I'd like to take a moment to honor my mother-in-law. It's hard to put words together to embody her life but she is a very special, anointed person. I'm so blessed to have her as a mother in my life.

She was a devoted wife until she lost her husband to cancer, mother to three daughters, and later became a pastor. She became a follower of Christ as an adult and as such, led her her family to Christ. In her late 50s, she obeyed God's calling to go to seminary and be a leader in the church. She graduated #1 in her class and reminded us that it's never too late to follow a new dream or calling.

As she'll soon celebrate her 80th birthday, I'm especially grateful for the ways that she poured into and prayed over Minhee and her other children.  Even though she's officially retired, I'm inspired that the concept of retirement is not in her vocabulary.  She continues to serve the local church, evangelize and bear witness to Christ, and goes to the early morning prayer meeting at 5am everyday to pray for our family, our church, and for others. 
Jangmonim, we love and honor you. 어머니, 사랑합니다.

Someday, I hope that when my kids speak of Minhee and I...above all, they would say with integrity that their parents prayed for them and kept pointing them to Christ. On this Mother's Day, I want to take a few words to honor mother.

There’s a moment from a few years ago that will stick with me until the day I die. It’s regarding Sung Wha, my mother.

Minhee and I were at a point of transition, between working at an ethnic Korean church in the northern suburbs of Seattle called Lynnwood and launching Quest in urban Seattle. As I shared earlier, I was in desperate need of a job. I had a mortgage to pay. A pregnant wife. A kid at home. 
Then, praise God, after months without work, I finally landed a job.

My mom was in between jobs at this point in her life. She was in her late fifties, but she had such bad knees and degenerative hips that it was, and is, difficult for her to walk. My mom is like a human barometer—when a storm is coming and when it rains, her hips throb. Although my parents lived in San Francisco, she was visiting us in Seattle to encourage us in this difficult season.

As I prepared to go to work one early morning, I walked downstairs to put on my jacket and shoes, and forgot that my mother woke up early every morning to pray. In fact, she had been praying for months that I would find a job. “Eugene, where are you going?” she said when she saw me.

I hadn’t told my mother the news that I had just recently been hired for the janitorial gig at Barnes and Noble. I chose not to because I thought she and my father would be devastated. I didn’t want them to think that after laboring, sacrificing, and doing so much for us over all those years that their son had failed them.

But I couldn’t lie to her, so eventually I told my mom that I got a job and was going to work. “Great! What job? What are you doing?” “Um, I’m working at Barnes and Noble as their custodian,” I said finally.

Without asking another question, my mother got up from the dining table where she had been reading her Bible and praying. She slowly walked slowly toward me.

She approached me, then walked past me without saying a word, and I realized she was headed toward the closet. She opened the closet door, put on her jacket, turned around and said to me (in Korean), “Eugene, let’s go together. I will help you.” This is my mother.

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