Voting as an Act of Faith
Even in the midst of social distancing and modified operations, some things are ever present and impossible to escape. Things like, say, the upcoming general election, with constant commercials, social media posts and yard signs galore. And yet, the church is often somewhat silent about engaging the political process.
Maybe we’ve internalized the oft repeated saying that we shouldn’t talk about religion and politics (heaven forbid). Or maybe we’ve become confused about the laws of separation of church and state. No matter the reason, lack of engagement is certainly not representative of our UM heritage, or our calling as Christians.
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: “1. To vote, without fee or reward, for the person they judged most worthy; 2. To speak no evil of the person they voted against; 3. To take care their spirits were not sharpened against those that voted on the other side.” You see, voting itself can be an act of faith.
So, how can the church respond? A church cannot and should not promote specific candidates. But I offer these ideas to you with sincere hope that you will choose to make political engagement a place to seek the transformation of this world through Christ.
- Educate: Put something on the church website or social media pages about the voting process. Details of how to vote by mail, where polling places are located, deadlines in your area, and who to contact with questions.
- Hospitality: Many churches have historically acted as polling places. If yours does, open your sanctuary for prayer. Stand outside and greet people as they come in. If your church isn’t a polling place, you can still provide hospitality at the polls. You could even go the extra mile and provide transportation for those who could not otherwise get to their polls.
- Worship: Preach on the subject of prophetic witness, voting as an act of faith, hope or healing. Pray continuously, both privately and publically, for our country and its leaders, as well as those who will be casting votes. Encourage others to do the same.
- Healing: No matter the outcomes of the election, people from all perspectives will be hurting and impacted by the divisiveness of our political landscape. Perhaps pastors might offer a follow-up conversation after the election to provide space for listening and healing to begin.
There are many ways churches can be involved in the political process. Engagement is a matter of faith, and a witness that all things are under God’s care.
The following links and information may be helpful:
Now, churches, get out the vote!