A Word About the Election
Bishop Cynthia Moore-Koikoi, in an October 30th email to Western Pennsylvania United Methodist leaders, stressed the importance of voting in the 2020 General Election, but emphasized that regardless of the outcome, the people of God must make sure that God wins. That will happen, she said, if "we treat each other with love and compassion ... engage in civil discussion..and respect diverse opinions when we encounter them."
The Bishop put it this way:
As disciples of Jesus Christ, United Methodists acknowledge that we are responsible to God for social and political life. One aspect of that responsibility involves exercising our right to vote. I am gratified that United Methodists across our annual conference are taking this responsibility seriously by making a plan to vote during this season of social distancing. If you have not already cast your ballot, as a fellow disciple, I encourage you to do so.
There have been many predictions and much debate about when we will actually know the results of the election. I do not wish to enter that debate. But, as a fellow disciple, I encourage all United Methodists to continue to display our highest ideals of discipleship until -- and after -- the election results are confirmed.
All political parties have raised the stakes in the 2020 election cycle, calling this election the most important of our lifetime. Therefore, the stage has been set for the atmosphere to be charged with conflict between those perceived as the “winners” and the “losers.”
Because of our allegiance to God, we are responsible to make sure that whoever wins or loses in the election, God wins in our culture. God will win if God’s people demand it and if, no matter who gets the most votes, we treat each other with love and compassion. God will win if any who question the election results do so peacefully and within the mechanisms that are part of our civil, democratic structure. God will win if we take seriously our responsibility to God to engage in civil discussion on social media and respect diverse opinions wherever we encounter them.
When we each accepted Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior, we “voted” for God. And when we decided to live out our discipleship through the United Methodist Church, we affirmed that vote. God has won our hearts, our souls, and our minds. And each day, by the grace of God, it is our privilege to show the world what it is like to be on God’s side.
May it be so.
Earlier in October, United Methodist bishops based in the United States issued a statement on Faith and Democracy, calling on the people of The United Methodist Church to support voter registration, encourage people to vote, and to protect free and fair elections and a peaceful transfer of power once the will of the people has been established.
"As Bishops of The United Methodist Church who reside in The United States, we affirm our democratic institutions. However, we believe that the democratic processes of our country are under great threat. This is particularly evident in the reality of widespread initiatives to obstruct voter registration and to suppress voters from casting their ballots with confidence they will be accurately counted," said the statement. signed by 50 U.S. Bishops.
The statement added: "It is incumbent upon those who participate in democratic processes not only to ensure each citizen’s right to cast their ballot, but to respect the result of those ballots once counted. When we resist this aspect of our democratic franchise, we undermine the whole and corrupt the foundation of our republic."
In a post on the Conference website blog entitled Voting as an Act of Faith, the Rev. Dr. Susan Moudry noted that "John Wesley encouraged voting and engagement in the political process. In his journal from October 6, 1774, he wrote that he advised those with vote:
- To vote, without fee or reward, for the person they judged most worthy
- To speak no evil of the person they voted against
- To take care their spirits were not sharpened against those that voted on the other side."
Emphasizing that the Church cannot and should not endorse political candidates, Dr. Moudry offered some examples of ways ways churches can be involved in the political process. "Engagement is a matter of faith," she said, "and a witness that all things are under God’s care."