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October 2012


Christian Principles in an Election Year

October is a tough time for those of us who don’t like politics. Unfortunately, in order to make it to Christmas, we have yet to survive the month leading up to Election Day. Christians in the United States are divided in their opinions, especially in the fall of a presidential election year. We all wish the political process would unify Americans, but it does the opposite. Facebook friends have “unfriended” each other, because their respective views on controversial issues are so different. On September 11, Facebook declared a moratorium on election rhetoric, in memory of those we lost in the attack eleven years ago. I was delighted to observe that moratorium, and I wish it hadn’t ended.

It’s always easier for a pastor to talk about personal responsibility than to talk about how we might improve society. But, as Christians, we can’t afford to ignore the larger world. Jesus never did that! As the faithful, we are called to follow Him into difficult places. Jesus preached that our call is to build up the Kingdom of God, not simply to wait for someone else to do it. We would be turning our backs on God, to be uninvolved in social change. There is too much global pollution, and far too much suffering, for us to stay silent. There is so little peace, and too many children are dying of hunger.

I don’t tell people who they should vote for, or even which candidates I support. When asked, I say that, after prayerfully considering the candidates’ positions, I have decided how to vote based on my understanding of where God is calling us. I don’t have the right to insist that my beliefs are the only true Christian understanding.

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In 2004, the National Council of Churches adopted the following CHRISTIAN PRINCIPLES IN AN ELECTION YEAR:

1. War is contrary to the will of God. While the use of violent force may, at times, be a necessity of last resort, Christ pronounces his blessing on the peacemakers. We look for political leaders who will make peace with justice a top priority and who will actively seek nonviolent solutions to conflict.

2. God calls us to live in communities shaped by peace and cooperation. We reject policies that abandon large segments of our inner city and rural populations to hopelessness. We look for political leaders who will re-build our communities and bring an end to the cycles of violence and killing.

3. God created us for each other, and thus our security depends on the well-being of our global neighbors. We look for political leaders for whom a foreign policy based on cooperation and global justice is an urgent concern.

4. God calls us to be advocates for those who are most vulnerable in our society. We look for political leaders who yearn for economic justice and who will seek to reduce the growing disparity between rich and poor.

5. Each human being is created in the image of God and is of infinite worth. We look for political leaders who actively promote racial justice and equal opportunity for everyone.

6. The earth belongs to God and is intrinsically good. We look for political leaders who recognize the earth's goodness, champion environmental justice, and uphold our responsibility to be stewards of God’s creation.

7. Christians have a biblical mandate to welcome strangers. We look for political leaders who will pursue fair immigration policies and speak out against xenophobia.

8. Those who follow Christ are called to heal the sick. We look for political leaders who will support adequate, affordable and accessible health care for all.

9. Because of the transforming power of God’s grace, all humans are called to be in right relationship with each other. We look for political leaders who seek a restorative, not retributive, approach to the criminal justice system and the individuals within it.

10. Providing enriched learning environments for all of God’s children is a moral imperative. We look for political leaders who will advocate for equal educational opportunity and abundant funding for children’s services.

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Let us pray for God’s presence and guidance in our lives, as we seek to be faithful Christian disciples—even if we have different views on the social concerns listed above.

We are planning a community welcoming event for voters at our church polling place on Election Day. If you can help us brew coffee and/or bake pastries for voters on November 4, between 7 a.m. and 9 p.m., please see me or call the church office.

Blessings,
Pastor Joyce


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