Eugene Cho

my decision to enter into politics

Recently, I had the opportunity to travel to Washington DC for two purposes. I attended the National Prayer Breakfast and was honored to hear President Barack Obama share about his faith in Christ. When he came out from the back to his seat, I was shocked that he waved at me. Cynics would suggest that he was waving at the whole group but I’m sure he was waving at me. You see, I waved back and he kept waving at me. Pretty cool.

The keynote speaker was Randall Wallace – the writer and producer of Braveheart. If you have about 35 minutes, I’d encourage you to watch his chat. It was an amazing talk and for some of you that have lost all hope in Hollywood, his “sermon” might compel you to give it a second chance.

After the breakfast, I had the opportunity to join about 30 others at the White House for a meeting hosted by Joshua Dubois, the head of the Office of Faith Based and Neighborhood Partnerships. In short, the meeting was phenomenal for various reasons:

  • 30 compelling women and men – all seeking to do good in the larger world. If you could possibly see brains and ideas clicking in a meeting, this was that meeting.
  • A great presentation from Dr. Rajiv Shah – head of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). For what it’s worth, his appointment (last year) made history because he is the highest ranking Indian American in any presidential administration. His presentation on international development was brilliant. I’d pay to intern in his office.
  • Wonderful conversations – with those whom I call friends and those whose work I’ve admired from afar.

The main purpose of our conversation was to discuss:

How can we work together?

While I’ve gone back and forth about the role of faith and politics and my ongoing wrestling with my cynicism about government, religion, and anything organized, I’ve come to a place of peace and conviction that…

cynicism and hopelessness isn’t going to help change the world.

Rather, we have to inspire people towards action with hope, courage, and beauty – even in the midst of messy and muddled worldviews.

It’s for this reason that I’m seeking and learning how to better engage the platform of civic responsibilities and politics.

Long story short,

I’ve decided to enter into politics

Not for any political office. Don’t worry, I’m not running for any office, joining any party, but rather, to engage politics.

I’ve chosen to more intentionally engage politics not because I love politics but because politics impact policies which ultimately, impact people…

I don’t see a way around it:

Christians need to be engaged with our civic responsibilities.

In our ever increasing world and society of polarization, perhaps the greatest challenge might be how we work together with those that don’t think like us in all or some matters.

Which lend me to think about how we ought to engage politics as people of faith.  Well, I think we can begin by asking some important questions before and during…

  • How do we speak truth to power? The reality is that we live in the most powerful country in the nation…
  • How does the church work with the local and national government? Since I believe that God did indeed create the “office” of government, what is its role and how does the “Church” collaborate?
  • How do Christians remain “neutral” in the sense that we don’t serve as puppets for a political party or agenda but engage the political system to pursue Kingdom convictions?
  • How do we maintain a sense of unity through the chaos of different views?

What do you think?

How should Christians engage the political process?

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28 Responses

  1. Totally agree that Christians should be involved in civic duties. I love election days, especially when local offices are up for grabs. It’s just inspiring to see the community turn out and see democracy at work peacefully. My dad was always a political hound, so I picked up on his zeal. But at the same time, Christians need to know that we do have hope outside of electing someone to office or passing a piece of legislation.

    • Eugene Cho says:

      thanks matt for the comment.

      agreed. there’s something about the election process here in the states that inspire and encourage me – particularly in the midst of all the choas that we see around the world.

      something not to be taken for granted.

  2. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Eugene Cho, Jonathan D. Blundell and Jonathan Thornton, Alltop Christianity. Alltop Christianity said: my decision to enter into politics: Recently, I had the opportunity to travel to Washington DC for two purposes…. […]

  3. Al Shaw says:

    Am on a similar journey.

    Been writing essays on the topic thinking about some of the same issues.

  4. Matt Inman says:

    Faith and politics are issues I have also wrestled with joining. I really liked your question toward the bottom about how do we speak truth to power? I think that is it for me. I see a motif Christians pushing Biblically interpreted agendas through means of lobbying and power when I see God creating change (bulk of the time) through a different kind of power. A power that starts on the fringes and works its way spiritually, not through regulations. But then i think, doesnt the whole democracy thing change it all? If we have been given a voice shouldn’t we use it for Godly living?

    I am rambling. All that to say I struggle with it all because while I see it’s value I believe Christians have played bully with some of their power. So go for it! We all need better models of how to engage well.

  5. Maia Anderson says:

    I’m super encouraged by this.

  6. Lee Gibson says:

    Without expecting other people to share our faith.

    If we, as Christians, can’t advocate for our positions based on common sense and shared ethics, trying to convince people that God is on our side and they are wrong is not effective.

    Our positions can and should be informed by our beliefs, but they have no place in civil discourse if the best argument is “Well, God told me it has to be this way.”

    I’m looking at you, Pat Robertson.

  7. Matt D says:

    You’re treading dangerous grounds, Eugene. It’s difficult to speak to power without being seduced by power.

    • Eugene Cho says:

      i hear where you’re coming from.

      but my decision to “engage” politics is nothing new. and to be honest, i’d rather be treading dangerous grounds rather than sitting on my sofa. but that’s just me.

  8. jchenwa says:

    I think, not know, that government is GOD given, but as GOD’s chosen we have to remain set apart and Holy. How that is live out remains part of the journey w/ Him.

  9. Tim Morey says:

    Way to follow God’s call where it takes you Eugene. This is great news!

  10. Janet says:

    As you shared couple weeks ago, the next election cycle is going to be crazy and I hope that Christians will take the route of civility.

  11. Rob says:

    I’m a little disappointed by this. I find it all too common for people to become syncretistic when this happens. Yes, people should vote, and there are people who are called to the political arena, but…

    People begin a cycle of two primary wrongs when they become “politically active.” One of these two wrongs is that they place an equal value on the religion of politics as they do the scripture itself(Syncretism). We have all talked to these people before. They start posting quotes from our “christian” founding fathers. they are judgmental of other believers based on voting habits… I think you get the idea.

    The other thing is that people begin to think their political involvement becomes “enough” in terms of gospel mission. Working to end social ills, minister to the poor and needy, share the gospel with young girls before they are getting pregnant, and any other scenario requires some form of personal sacrifice. Political involvement for the masses requires little more sacrifice than a vote. I can’t tell you how many times I have heard people say, “I can’t look my brother in the eye and say I worked to help my fellow man if (Bill X) doesn’t pass.” or, “I did my part, don’t blame me…”

    The main thing has to be the Gospel at all times. Laws won’t change the hearts of men, only Christ can do that.

    • Andy M says:

      You give valid concerns. There are definately dangers to becoming involved in politics. However, just because there are dangers, doesn’t mean that those things will, or must, happen. The more aware you are of those things, the more you can avoid those tendencies.

      “Laws won’t change the hearts of men” Absolutely true. However, there is great value in creating good laws, or challenging bad old laws. Martin Luther King, Jr. said this:

      “It may be true that the law cannot make a man love me, but it can keep him from lynching me, and I think that’s pretty important.”

      In this country we have a system that gives us the ability, even responsibility, to come together as a people to decide what the government does. Everybody should be involved in politics in some way, whether it is voting, or protests, becoming an activist, or even just writing letters to Congressmen voicing concerns.

      But of course, we need to know above all else that kingdoms from this world are not, and will never be the Kingdom of God.

  12. I think the big problem is when we are trying to convince people that they should vote a certain way because one party is more Christian than the other. Obviously our Christian values will send us in a certain direction with regards to issues, but we should discuss the actual issue and not try to suggest that God is on one side or the other.

  13. Walt says:

    Curious story out of Portland Oregon on Representative David Wu. He wore a tiger suit. Some urge him to step down. Just on the face of it and I don’t know a lot, this does not seem so bad. This is just one link about the story:

  14. […] I’ve got a simple post today with a simple question. No need to argue, debate, or go into any dramatic existential thought process about “Who am I?” or about Faith & Politics. […]

  15. […] Was the Easter Prayer breakfast founded in sincerity or was it a political charade?  If it was purely spiritual, why was it followed by briefings with administration officials in which policy matters were discussed? After the breakfast, I had the opportunity to join about 30 others at the White House for a meeting hosted by Joshua Dubois, the head of the Office of Faith Based and Neighborhood Partnerships. In short, the meeting was phenomenal for various reasons: Eugene Cho […]

  16. […] seeing him and supporting him as our President. […]

  17. […] I encourage you, with humility and wisdom…engage politics; Be […]

  18. […] I encourage you, with humility and wisdom … engage politics and be […]

  19. […] I got invited to this event is a little unclear but over the past couple years, I’ve been building relationships with the White House via their Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships. It’s also from a […]

  20. […]  How I got invited to this event is a little unclear but over the past couple years, I’ve been building relationships with the White House via their Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships. It’s also from a […]

  21. […] I got invited to this event is a little unclear but over the past couple years, I’ve been building relationships with the White House via their Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships. It’s also from a […]

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One Day’s Wages

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Let's fully welcome refugees. Remember, refugees aren't terrorists...they're the ones fleeing away from violence, war, and terrorism. 
Afraid? Me too. It's ok to acknowledge we're afraid since it confirms we're all...just...human. We're all afraid on some level especially when our culture seems to run on the currency of fear but as we live out our faith in Christ and more deeply embody compassion and love, fear begins to dissipate. It's also incredibly critical to know that agencies are implementing some of the most rigorous and thorough vetting ever. 
My family hosted a Somalian Muslim family from a refugee camp years ago through @WorldRelief. It was eye opening, challenging (especially with language realities), and yet, encouraging...and we hope to host families again in the future as they resettle in a completely new and foreign city and country. It's a terrifying experience. And while not a refugee, I remember the first few months as an immigrant when I was six years old. To this day, I remember the kindness of folks that helped us through that transition. Lift a prayer for me as I'm privileged to collaborate in ministry here in Melbourne, Australia. Meeting with local pastors, teaching at the Justice Conference (10/21-22). Then, preaching at the Bridge Church on Sunday  Pray that in preaching the whole Gospel from the Scriptures, I may honor God, point people to Jesus, and be sensitive to the presence and power of the Holy Spirit. Amen. Interesting. The holy bench. Wow. And in a blink of an eye, this happened. The nights might be long but the years go by fast. #ParentProverbs #WhatHappenedToMy13YearOldSon This past week, @seattlequest celebrated its 15th Anniversary. In many ways, it feels like forever and in other ways, it just seemed like we just started yesterday.

Around May 2000, Minhee and I found out we were expecting a 2nd child. Then, we got another surprise. We felt a calling and stirring to plant a church. We told God, "This is horrible timing!" We left a thriving ministry that we started in the Seattle surburbs and felt compelled to move into the city to plant a new multiethnic church called Quest. To be honest, we were so scared. Minhee was pregnant. Our insurance was about to run out. But we ventured forth. Once I resigned from this church, I had plans, goals, strategies...and none of them materialized. Only bills and payments. I quickly found out that a Masters of Divinity degree - as cool as it may sound - is actually useless in society. No one wanted to hire me. I was unemployed for months. We were eventually on food stamps and DSHS insurance.

In December 2000, we welcomed our 2nd child to the world. When "T" was born, we cried more than the baby. Couple days later, I finally landed a job as the janitor at a Barnes & Noble store. It wasn't quite what I was envisioning but God really worked through this "valley season." And we finally felt peace about starting Quest. Seven people gathered in our living room and several months later on October 2001, Quest Church was officially launched. 
It has not been easy. We've been hurt and worse, we learned we hurt people. More accurately, I hurt people. We've heard our share of criticisms and sometimes, even worse. I've been called my share of names. Too many to list. I've been too liberal, too conservative, too edgy, too rigid, too blunt, too passive. We spent many nights crying out to the Lord...for direction, for peace, for answers. We usually never got the answers we were wanting...but we always felt His presence - even during our valleys. To be honest, we still have many restless nights. In fact, I think we have had more restless nights these past two years than we did in the first two years. 
But through it all. God has been so faithful and gracious. Thank you, Lord. The good ol' days when I just wanted to make music. My kids have no idea how coooooooool I was. #OriginalMacPowell

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