- Matthew Castro
Be a Free Trade Voter: Christians and Free Trade
By Matthew Castro
Every election cycle proves the unfortunate fact that evangelicals are one issue voters. Typically Christians are only strong supporters of pro-life candidates. They either advocate for or oppose laws which are focused solely on social policies. Evangelicals view trade issues with apathy. However, a consistent pro-life candidate would support free and fair trade around the world.
A neglected issue among Evangelical voters is the protectionist rhetoric from Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. Both are advocating for anti-globalization measures, which would protect jobs at home, but the policy would endanger the development of the poor around the world. A study by Pablo Fajgelbaum of the University of California, Los Angeles, and Amit Khandelwai, of Columbia University, suggests the poorest 10% of consumers in the world would lose 63% of their spending power if borders were closed to trade. When imports are blocked, prices increase, which hurts the poor the most.
God created the earth. He imprinted males and females with His image. He designed that men and women would be the stewards over His creation. We were given the right to subdue the earth through economic processes. Therefore, we were given the ability and freedom to develop commerce to earn financial benefits.
The United Nations Develop Programme have reported, ‘Nearly a half of the world’s population, which is more than 3 billion people, live on less than $2.50 a day. More than 1.3 billion live in extreme poverty, which is less than $1.25 a day.” As stewards over God’s creation and citizens of His kingdom, the church has a responsibility to do something about the economic wellbeing of many in the world.
Jesus said in Matthew 25:37-40, “Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’”
Is the application of Jesus’ words solely the giving of physical food, clothing, or shelter? Can we reason that more is demanded from his teaching?
The unknown author of the old Chinese proverb says, “Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.” Compassion for the poor calls us to go beyond simply giving some of our surplus. Jesus commands us to sacrifice for the good of others.
Protectionism policies restrict the economic benefits from the global poor. Protecting American jobs may help some, but may harm many around the world. Christians in America must consistently speak about the needs of all people. We cannot ignore the least of these.
The church in America should help the government and businesses develop financial markets in third world nations. Free and fair trade creates employment opportunities for the betterment ofthe poor.
Christians should research and invest in small businesses in the third world. Giving poor entrepreneurs and their families micro loans to expand economic opportunities. Successful local businesses in poor communities provide examples of a better future.
The world would take notice of the consistency of the Christian worldview. God calls His people to stand for the care of all people. Pride and neglect of anyone is not permissible for the church of Jesus Christ.
The church cannot support policies that neglects the global poor. Globalization connects Christians to the nations giving us an opportunity to proclaim the gospel to them. Therefore, economic protectionism is opposed to the mission of the church.
The constant principle of God’s people is life for the least of these. We should advocate for care of the poor and needy around the world. Therefore, be a free trade voter in November.