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Chinese American Christians Are Becoming More Politically Engaged—and More Divided

The 2020 race brings out generational gaps within the most undecided Asian American demographic.

Pastor Tina Teng-Henson, who co-leads a small, primarily Asian American church in the San Francisco Bay Area, recently preached about Jesus’ teachings on family from Luke 8. “My mother and brothers are those who hear God’s word and put it into practice,” Jesus says (v. 21).

Her reason for choosing this passage? “This is a really hard time for a lot of families,” she told me. “There’s a lot of stress and tension.”

We’re in the midst of a global pandemic, of course, but a significant amount of that stress relates to the presidential election, which has split Asian Americans along generational and cultural lines.

While white evangelicals and black Protestants are voting relatively uniformly this year, with 78 percent of white evangelicals supporting President Donald Trump and 88 percent of black Protestants backing former vice president Joe Biden, the Asian American electorate, both inside and outside the church, presents a far more complex picture.

In Teng-Henson’s own family of devout Christians, there are Biden supporters and Trump supporters. Her Taiwanese-born parents believe Trump will better stand up to China’s aggression toward Taiwan; another family member is a devoted supporter of QAnon and Trump.

Teng-Henson herself was raised Republican but has moved politically left as an adult. “In the last 20 years I’ve become convinced that Democratic values that allow for personal decision making and support giving people the greatest political freedoms and opportunities to experience the generosity of our government are important,” she told me. “That leads me to support Democrats.”

Asian Americans are often overlooked by political ...

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Why I Read the Old Testament with Spiritual Seekers

Together, we discover Deuteronomy's Good News.

I first met “Carmen” and her husband after church one morning in midsummer. Raised in Spain, Carmen had been baptized as an infant and had a nominally religious background. She’d recently moved to Canada and, after a series of events, including the death of a friend named Grace and an early morning Google search, she found Grace Toronto Church—and arrived the first time wearing her pajamas.

Carmen kept coming back, week after expectant week, growing more eager to read and understand the Bible for herself. Her bursting curiosity and acute spiritual hunger struck me when she and her family came over for lunch several weeks later. In late August, I asked Carmen to join me and two other women in studying the Bible.

The book we studied together? Deuteronomy.

A Very Good Place to Start

In the early years of our marriage, my husband, Ryan, and I often led evangelistic Bible studies with colleagues and neighbors. We’d read and discuss Scripture passages, usually from the Gospels, sharing observations and fielding questions. I can assure you that we never offered to study Deuteronomy with our spiritually seeking friends.

It can be tempting to feel like the Old Testament is something to be embarrassed about, with its purported misogyny, accounts of genocide, and sexually repressive rules. Deuteronomy (and some other Old Testament books) might be likened to the eccentric uncle you hope will miss this year’s Thanksgiving dinner. Yes, your odd uncle is a part of the family, but it might be safer to introduce him to your boyfriend once there’s a ring on your finger.

No doubt, there are challenges in reading Deuteronomy with a spiritual seeker—and I worried about all of them. Deuteronomy gives ...

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