A few weeks ago, nearly 120 million Americans and over 2 million Alabamians went to the polls to vote for President, Congressional and state leaders, and a host of local leaders and amendments. Elections are a time when passions run high for people of all political persuasions. Here are some thoughts that may be helpful for us as Christians trying to witness to the unity of the body of Christ in a deeply polarized country.
- God belongs to neither political party. There were millions of committed and devout Christians who voted for Republicans. There were millions of committed and devout Christians who voted for Democrats. There were millions of committed and devout Christians who voted for a mixture of both Republicans and Democrats. There were millions of committed and devout Christians who chose not to vote. Our faith should inform how we vote (or don’t vote), but we should never assume that those who vote differently are not as faithful.
- Our Faith is Bigger than 1 or 2 Issues. Every year around election time, the media will talk about “values” issues, usually meaning things like abortion and gay marriage. For Christians, every issue is a values issue. We must weigh how our faith informs everything from tax policy to health policy, from war and defense spending to abortion, from capital punishment to marriage, from care for the environment to job creation, from food stamps and welfare to foreign aid, from social security to the debt. Just as God does not belong to one party, our faith is not limited to 1 or 2 issues.
- Nobody is a Nazi. Or very few people in this country and none of our elected officials are. Christians must find away to express their disagreement with elected officials without using gross exaggerations and offensive demonizations. Be firm in your disagreement, but remember that the one with whom you disagree is also a child of God.
- Friends Can Disagree. You can still be friends and have a meaningful relationship with someone whose political views differ from yours. Remember that Christians are not called to always agree. We are called to always love each other.
- Nobody is right all the time. Nobody is wrong all the time. If someone you supported won, don’t hesitate to protest his/her policies when you believe s/he is wrong. If someone you didn’t support won, don’t hesitate to support his/her policies when you believe s/he is right.
- The Truth will set you free. Before you accept something about a particular issue or elected official is true just because you heard it on Fox News (for conservatives) or MSNBC (for liberals) do your homework. In the age of information with internet, satellite talk radio, and cable news, there is a whole lot of misinformation out there. Don’t just accept what you hear as fact without doing your own research. Factcheck.org is a non-partisan website that is helpful in distinguishing facts from exaggerations from out right lies.
- Our hope does not depend on who is elected President (or any other office). Voting is important. But it is not where we place our ultimate hope. As Christians, we believe Jesus is the hope of the world. Don’t put too much hope in the politicians you supported who won and don’t fear if the person you wanted to win lost.
United Methodist Social Principle
164 While our allegiance to God takes precedence over our allegiance to any state, we acknowledge the vital function of government as a principal vehicle for the ordering of society… The strength of a political system depends upon the full and willing participation of its citizens. The Church should continually exert a strong ethical influence upon the state, supporting policies and programs deemed to be just and opposing policies and programs that are unjust.
Questions for Discussion
1) Have you ever felt like someone was questioning your faith because of your political views? Have you ever questioned someone else’s faith because of their political views? How can we as Christians demonstrate how to love one another when we disagree?
2) What do you find hopeful about this past election? Why? What troubles you about this past election? Why?
New Resources Available: The Daybreak in Alabama Video Series and Manna and Mercy video series are now available. To learn more, visit our resource page at http://northalabamaumc.org/pages/detail/1811.
The Advocacy for Social Justice Blog is produced by the North Alabama Conference Advocacy for Social Justice Team to help people think about justice issues through the lens of faith. It is intended to be a place where United Methodists can listen and learn from each other with mutual respect and understanding. (For the purpose of this blog see the the post “The work of justice is the work of the church”.) Please join the conversation by adding your comment below. If you have an idea for a blog topic or would like to make a submission to the Advocacy for Social Justice Blog please contact the Team Convenor Rev. R.G. Wilson-Lyons at email@example.com.