Latino Evangelicals and the Mosaic Shift

By Gabriel Salguero 11-07-2008

I am what some refer to as a brown evangelical -- in short, a Latino evangelical. Usually when the media speaks of evangelicals we are one of the groups that is left out. However, in Election 2008 this was less of the case. The increase in the Latino and Latina vote in states such as New Mexico, Colorado, and Florida had a substantial impact on the election this year. Many newspapers have argued that the Latino vote put President-elect Obama over in many of these states. The argument is over: Latinos will vote for a black candidate.

I personally celebrated this historic moment with my wife and 3-year-old son around 11 p.m. Tuesday. My words to my family, "How about that. I'm so glad we're alive to see this." While I have no illusions that the serious issues of poverty, a consistent ethic of life, two wars, and countless other issues will be solved, I was profoundly moved by this day. As a Latino with a 3-year-old son and another on the way, I was proud of a country that said a person of color can lead us. In the words of James Weldon Johnson in Lift Every Voice and Sing, "Stony the Road we Trod," still the road is not impossible for people of color. We are moving toward the day where people of color will not be as Ralph Ellison says, "The Invisible Man [or Woman]."

The question is, in the words of Martin Luther King Jr., "Where do we go from here?" Latino evangelicals, an increasing demographic, are hoping that all our elected officials will develop a serious commitment to a consistent ethic of life. Issues of abortion, the death penalty, war, children's health care, and millions dying on the border or in shipping cargos from Asia must be addressed. I have no illusions that everything will change overnight. Presidents are not messiahs or Lords. What I do hope for is a broad coalition of men and women that will seek the common good, independent of their political or ideological persuasion.

Moreover, some time ago I blogged here about a shifting going on of a mosaic national and global leadership. The election of a multiracial candidate means that this country is willing and ready to vote for a person who at one time in our tragic history would not be allowed to vote or was considered a slave. The shifting mosaic or revolution in evangelical circles is made up of evangelicals of color, white evangelicals, evangelical women, and young and old evangelicals committed to a broad moral agenda. I pray this coalition holds our president and all our elected officials accountable; conscience and democracy demand no less.

But in the days following a truly historical moment, I offer a heartfelt prayer for President-elect Barack Obama:

Dear Lord, I pray for President-elect Obama , his wife Michelle, and two daughters Malia and Sasha. May God grant them peace, health, joy, long life and the ability to do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly before you.

Rev. Gabriel SalgueroRev. Gabriel Salguero is the pastor of the Lamb's Church of the Nazarene in New York City, a Ph.D. candidate at Union Theological Seminary, and the director of the Hispanic Leadership Program at Princeton Theological Seminary. He is also a Sojourners board member.

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