I’m being confronted with what is, to me, a serious ethical dilemma.
What do I do when I discover that a person who does work or might want to work within the volunteer programs I manage actually supports Donald Trump for president?
The above sentence sounds like a lead in to a joke. I wish it were.
In the most recent case of my experience, one of the women who teaches Sunday School within my ministry area posted a pro-Trump article. I can’t even be hopeful that it was just a slip of a finger on a keyboard, because she’s posted some pretty out-there stuff in the past.
Up until now I’ve felt that I can’t police the personal beliefs of my volunteers. I have 25 people working with children in my department every week (and each volunteer slot is double-staffed, making a total of 50 volunteers to monitor); even if I wanted to keep my thumb on what and how they teach, it would be an impossible task. I do my best to make sure they’re on the same page with the theology we want to teach, that they frame their lessons in a way that ONLY offers a message of grace, forgiveness, mercy, and love. Once they’re in the classrooms doing their thing, it’s out of my hands.
We don’t have any kind of litmus test in our congregation for who’s allowed to work with kids (beyond our very carefully followed child protection policy). The stance of our denomination is that we have collective statements about our theological beliefs, but we do NOT tell individuals what they must believe, how they must think about certain issues, or how they should vote.
But this Trump thing is a whole new ball game.
I do not believe it’s possible to make a case that an adult who supports this man has good judgment. In fact, I believe that supporting Trump denotes a severe lack of critical thought, a severe lack of concern for those who don’t look exactly like us – in short, being a Trump supporter indicates a severe character flaw.
This is not hyperbole. It’s truly what I believe.
In this particular case, this teacher is done with her teaching for the year. I don’t think she’ll be returning next year; after doing this work for twelve years I can tell when a volunteer is on his/her way out.
But I can see the possibility of having to make some pretty serious and difficult decisions in the new program year that will start in the fall, which is traditionally when we sign up a lot of new volunteers.
I take my responsibility to our children very seriously. I’m not 100% certain that it’s ethical to create my own litmus test for the people who work within the programs I oversee.
But I know I cannot live with myself if I allow a Donald Trump supporter to have access to children in my care.