An Open Letter to President Obama

An Open Letter to President Obama

As I write this, you are giving your final speech to the American people as our 44th President.

I feel compelled, maybe even driven, to write a few things to you (even though they are words you’ll probably never read). Perhaps, what I have to say is just for me; writing tends to be therapeutic. Maybe it's for my friends who need to hear what a white, Republican, evangelical Christian pastor has to say.

First, I need to say “thank you” for all of the sacrifices you have made to serve our country. Thank you for facing the unbelievably challenging task of leading this great nation. I lead a fairly large church, and the stress is unbearable at times. I can’t imagine how you ever sleep.

Thank you for staying dedicated to who you are and what you believe. Frankly, I haven’t agreed with you much, but I respect a man who is true to his convictions.

For the record, I voted for you in 2008 (sadly, some of my friends are shocked and looking for the unsubscribe button right now).

I didn’t vote for you because I agreed with all of your political positions. I didn’t vote for you because you were a great orator. I didn’t vote for you just because you were black either (although I’ll explain how that fact did influence my vote).

I voted for you because it was a personal act of repentance for me.

As a child of the 50s, I was raised with “an attitude” toward African Americans. I remember very well attending an all-white school in Abilene, Texas. I remember being told and believing that it was “best for Negro children to go to school together” (implying that they wouldn’t be able to keep up with white kids).

I was eleven years old when Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated. I remember watching the story on the news and hearing, “It was only a matter of time; he was a trouble-maker who brought this on himself.”

My vote for you was my way of saying that “white privilege” and American racism must stop. I voted for you because I desperately wanted to contribute in some way to what I pray will be a lasting shift in our country.

If the trend continues, by 2045 most of those who are US citizens will have African, Asian, or Latin American ancestors. We will no longer be a white majority nation, and that fact demands a profound change in attitude and action if we are to thrive and survive as one nation, under God.

I know we still have a long way to go, but by voting for you, I was willing to sacrifice my political passions to see a little bit of that change in my lifetime. I am honored to say that I had an extremely small part in helping the first black man become President.

President Obama, I apologize for my brothers and sisters in Christ who spoke about you with so little honor and respect. I’m sorry for the vile things that were said and written by men and women of faith.

We Americans, and we Christians, too often allow our moral compass to become a weapon of hate. We also conveniently ignore the Biblical mandate to show respect and honor to those in leadership, regardless of their politics.

I’m sorry for the way you have been treated by some who profess to love God.

Some of my Christian friends will say, “NO true Christ-follower would ever vote for a man who supports the LGBT agenda and abortion!”

I would humbly remind them that no true Christ-follower can say they love God while maligning, belittling, or hating a leader, a race, or any group of people, no matter how much they disagree with them.

We can disagree, but we should never throw any human under any bus. In doing so, we dishonor our Maker.

Sometimes, sadly, we have made “being right” an excuse for being malicious rather than being gentle, kind, and loving peacemakers.

Forgive us. Forgive me.

I’m not sure how history will recall your presidency in a hundred years. I have no idea how you genuinely feel about the past eight years.

I recognize the ebb and flow of American politics will always be unpredictable and volatile. I’ve been around long enough to know that policies and presidents come and go, and yet my faith in God is still secure.

So I pray tonight that you know there’s an old, white, Jesus-loving, generally Republican preacher who hates some of Obama’s policies, but loves Obama as a man, and honors him as a president.

Because of Him, you are loved,




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56 thoughts on “An Open Letter to President Obama

  1. Thanks for writing and posting that letter Kurt, I agree with all you wrote, and must say I spoke on the same things with others, but it was received with sarcasm. Thanks again, it would be great if President Obama could read that.

  2. Wow. Just wow. Clearly we didn’t have the same experience growing up, and we aren’t from the same generation, but this physically made me I’ll. Not because I am a racist, or that I agree with what you were protesting. Just like I don’t understand racism, I also don’t understand feeling guilty for the color of your skin.

    As I look around at the mess this president has made (not just in our country, but around the world), I am profoundly disgusted by the fact that you would celebrate voting for someone based on the color of their skin! Is that not racism?? I would proudly vote for a black man or woman, but I cannot imagine voting for one who would spit in the face of Isreal, promote the killing of the unborn, incite violence against law enforcement, give money to terrorist nations that want to kill us, and honestly I could go on forever, but I won’t. I’m sad that he was such a disgrace. Not because he is half black, but because for the past 8 years I have been living in fear. Before you point your finger at a lack of faith, take a look around at our current state of affairs. Never in my life have I seen our nation so broken, and truly divided. Obama has promoted class warfare, incited racial division, and terrorism is not only rampant around the world, but right here on our shores.

    I think your letter was nothing but a showboat. While you may have a whole group of followers who hang on your every word, just remember the vast responsibility that comes with that. As I read your letter, it appears that you are either completely politically uninformed, or your need to suppress your white guilt over rides the values to which you preach.

    I’m sorry if my comment comes off as being unloving. Your letter made me angry, and I will own that. Truly I wish you the best.

    1. Dear Heather, I fear you missed my primary point: we are to honor and respect those in authority (as commanded to do so in the Word) regardless of their performance or political bent. As I said, I “hate” most of Obama’s policies, but I must love the man and honor him as President. I would encourage you to do some honest study about racism in America (you might want to read America’s Original Sin, by Jim Wallis). I would also ask you to consider why you are so angry. What’s in your heart? Is it reflecting the fruit of the Spirit? Accusing me of “showboating” is so far from my heart and my intent. That being said, I forgive you, and pray God’s blessing on you. You are loved.

    2. Interesting response; having not voted for the man I still can look around and see a general sense of improvement over the past 4 years.
      I’m still proud to be an American and love praying for wisdom for all of our local and national leaders.

  3. Thank you Kurt for speaking truth and love. Truth that is needed today as much it ever was. Jesus walked and lived in times like ours full of judgement, hatred, hypocrisy and division. We have so much yet to learn from him. Thank you for saying what needed to be said! Love you brother!

  4. oh, kurt…. thank you so much for taking the time and thought, to put to words what i have so deeply wanted to hear. i grew up on an indian reservation, and most of my friends and neighbors were something other than white. i didn’t really think about race issues, nor did i understand them. so, although i didn’t vote for obama, i was excited to see that our nation was finally able to see people past their color, and imagined that to be progress in the right direction! however, my upbringing also taught me that whether or not you agree with the person, … you respect the position,…. and although i did not agree with many of our presidents policies, i certainly have respected him as a president and a person. sadly, i believe it will be harder for me to “feel” respectful of that position over the next 4 years than the last. but i will “choose” to continue to pray for our president, and respect his position, and incredibly difficult job.
    may we all feel an urgency to pray for our nation and our leaders passionately, not because we agree with them, or even like them…. but out of obedience to the One who can truly change hearts, and love people into wisdom! 🙂
    thoughts of an old, white, mostly republican grandma

  5. Pastor Bubna,
    I appreciate your using your own platform to demonstrate what the tangible manifestation of God should look like in this world. As a pastor, chaplain and adjunct religion professor, I wish I could meet you and dialogue about the poison that has become political discourse in America. I wish we had advanced as a nation as you’d hoped. Blessings and peace my brother. Soli Deo Gloria!

    1. Thank you, Michael. Sounds like we would have a great discussion over coffee! We do have a long way to go still as a nation. I appreciate your kindness.

  6. I also voted for Obama and never felt like he didn’t do or say what was in his heart. I am so sorry our people show so much disrepect for our leaders who are taking on the hardest job anyone could have. Hopefully we can start acting like adults and support who ever is our president and make this nation look great again. Thank you for posting your letter.

  7. I agree with you on many points Kurt. I have always disliked when people disrespect the President. Whether one agrees with his policies, decisions or stances I have always believed that you should honor the role he has. I for one would not want that job, nor do I wish or pray for Ty to become President. I do not post about politics and generally try not to comment on post regarding them, like you I have been off social media and it’s nice not to be bombarded by the negativity that can be posted about our President and President-elect.
    Our job is to pray for them and our leaders, to teach our children respect for the position they hold and to continue to live our life in a manner glorifying our Lord. Good job Kurt.

  8. Hi Kurt,
    Your letter is awesome. It made me cry. I know so many people who hate and have really badmouthed the president. It has saddened my heart. I don’t tolerate badmouthing in my 2nd grade class. Maybe some of those people need to come back to 2nd grade and learn something! I did not vote for Obama, but when he was elected, I thought Wow! Our country elected a black man for president! At that, I am thrilled for all black people. I don’t agree with most of Obama’s politics, BUT God didn’t tell me I had to agree with the leader He put in place! He did tell me, as you said, to honor and pray for our leaders. Hopefully, we will pray for our president elect and quit the badmouthing. Love you. God bless you!!

    1. Great insight and truth, Laura, a lot of us need to “go back” to our more humble upbringings and learn to control our tongue. Thanks for the encouragement.

  9. Hi Kurt, your letter to the president is great and it caused me not to write a letter to the Spokane paper about how glad I am to see his administration come to an end. I have prayed for him but not as often as I should have. Anyway, I appreciated your letter and will continue to read your blog.

    1. Hi Gary, I think we are always free to express our opinions and views. What concerns me is how some do so in such a nasty and unChristlike way. It’s all about tone, words, and our hearts. Thanks for reading my blog. Thanks for your friendship! Be safe out there on the road. Love you buddy!

  10. Excellent work, Kurt. Growing up with my dad in the military gave me more exposure to other races and Dad made sure I understood there was no difference. When we had just moved to central California in 1961 I was in the 8th grade and someone asked me if I favored segregation and I honestly didn’t understand their question. Now the big word is “hate” and I’m afraid this might be a distraction from the real problem I find in me which is self pride. I don’t hate people, I just like things my way and I don’t like people who get in my way. If I want to know what is wrong with the world, I have to quote G.K. Chesterton “I am.”

  11. Thanks, Kurt!
    Wow!!! Thank you for reminding us that we need to love and show respect no matter what our views. I see and hear so many negative comments and bad behavior on many issues and against many people that I have to disconnect myself from T.V. and Facebook. I appreciate your letter and the expectations of Christ followers. May we all become a little more like Him and show love, kindness, tolerance, and compassion for one another.

  12. Do you believe repentance could have been achieved, first and foremost, before God and secondly, before close family and friends? Can we effect change (which I agree needs to happen) by not voting for someone with Mr. Obama’s dangerous policies?
    Love you and the blog Kurt!

    1. Hi Adam, I think, at least for me, this act of “repentance” was also an act of obedience. I would never tell anyone how to vote. Until this blog, I’ve never spoken publicly of my decision. My hope was to use my experience as a statement of how passionately I feel about the issue of race relations and the need for healing in our country. Truth be told, whether someone/anyone agrees with what I did or not by voting for Obama, genuine repentance is always a “public” experience. When we repent and become Christ-followers, we do publicly. Though it is a private and personal decision, it is professed to others and even publicly demonstrated in public water baptism. That being said, again, it was necessary for me to demonstrate a change of heart through a very radical change of action. Hope all is well with you my friend. Love you guys too!

  13. I agree with most of your opinions concerning Brock Obama. That he became our first black president was inevitable, not only for our country, but for history going forward. While we did not vote for him , he won fair and square.We are required, as it says in the bible, to honor our leaders.Now I feel the same about our president elect. While sometimes watching his comments through hands held to face ; we pray his behavior will not follow him into the presidency as past presidents ! With his supposed immoral past,comments and tweets unbecoming to our president; we can only pray that he will reach out for guidance, listen and accept advice. Hard to watch and read the constant negative reporting , and unwillingness to give him a chance to prove himself.

    1. I share your concerns, Chris, for our soon-to-be President Trump. I will continue to do my best to pray for him and to honor the office no matter what. Love and appreciate you!

  14. That was an elegant and strong letter. Thanks for approaching this very politically divisive topic from a Godly perspective. I also haven’t agreed with much that he did in the last 8 years, and I’m very happy that his time is about to conclude. But maintaining a Christlike perspective is crucial no matter whether we like, or voted for whomever is in office. From Abilene, huh? I always knew there was something about you that connected with me. I was born there and raised in San Angelo, and I know we’re pretty close in age. I’m a pastor myself, near Houston, TX, and I always enjoy reading your blogs and posts.

    1. Thank you, Bryan. Fortunately, a lot of things have changed in Texas (and elsewhere), but we do still have a long way to go. Appreciate you brother. Stay the course.

  15. Nicely stated. If more of my Republican friends and friends-of-friends saw things the same way you do, my Facebook feed would be a happier place.

    We should treat politics like a speck of sawdust in the eye. Love of another’s true heart matters far more than any human-conceived policy.

    May God continue to bless you.

    PS You’re not missing much on social media, so continue to enjoy 2017 without it. 🙂

  16. As a child of the 60s, I had parents who had that “attitude” you speak of, which seemed to contradict the awakening anti-racism all around me. Needless to say, I was a little confused, but generally agreed with what I was being taught in school: a superiority attitude is not okay. But I was on the west coast (Cali, to be exact) & I know that region was a little more progressive in their thinking. Interestingly, our parents moved us to Oregon in the late 60s, the year before Bay Area schools had decided to desegregate and start busing black kids to white schools. My mom was relieved at the timing of our departure, but when I asked her why, she couldn’t really explain what she was afraid of.

    1. I think the generation before us was afraid. Frankly, fear is still now an issue too often in our relationships with people of color. thanks for adding a bit of your story to the conversation!

  17. I want you to know I look forward to reading your blog whenever you post…I may not always write my reply or opinions but I do like/enjoy what you have to say. I tend to shy away from posts that push buttons or hot button topics but I respect your stance on quite a few issues that I felt comfortable to weigh in, as it were…. I chose not to watch the President’s last address to the nation. I have not cared for this Presidency nor his policies….but on the other hand being the Leader of this country is something I would not want nor wish it on anyone I like/love. I cannot imagine the stress/pressure/responsibility…Your compassion and willingness to still love the human while not judging is something I try to aspire..and hopefully teach my kids..and yet I know I fail more often than not. Its something, Lord knows, I am working on…I DO like hearing your perspective on these hard things…mostly because you try to be mature/what God wants…I try to work towards that as well…I am just truly glad God has patience and understanding for us all and love us still.

    1. It is “risky” to write about something that may or maynot be understood by others. Like you, I’m just trying to do my best, Kelly, to be like Jesus. Thank you!

  18. I have always wondered how you felt about our President mainly because you’re a Pastor and leader of our congregation. I have the upmost respect for you especially after reading this blog. You’re true to your word, true to your church and true to your family. Thank you for sharing your thoughts!

    1. I tend to not say much from the “pulpit” or on my blog about politics, but sometimes I must, and this is one of those times. Thank you for the kind words.

  19. Being a former Calif Liberal and now a North Idaho conservative follower of Christ, I understand your rational in this. It is very, very hard for me to separate the man from his politics of divisiveness

    1. I understand your struggle, Allan. All I’m attempting to do is honor the office and to thank the man for his service. Thanks for adding to the conversation.

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