A Christian Approach to Elections

 Almighty God, you rule all the peoples of the earth.

Inspire the minds of all women and men to whom you have committed the responsibility of government and leadership in the nations of the world.

Give to them the vision of truth and justice, that by their counsel all nations and peoples may work together.

Give to the people of our country zeal for justice and strength of forbearance, that we may use our liberty in accordance with your gracious will.

Forgive our shortcomings as a nation; purify our hearts to see and love the truth.

We pray all these things through Jesus Christ. Amen.

This is a prayer following an election from my church’s worship hymnal, but it seems to me to work just as well as a prayer before an election. I’m thinking about elections because the Democratic Party convention is happening online this week, and the Republican one is next week. We are less than eighty days until the November 3 election, and things are heating up in the news as much as they are in this August summer! We’re seeing more political signs posted in neighborhoods, alarms are sounding over the postal service and mail-in voting, and there are concerns about having enough poll workers for an election during a global pandemic. Did I miss anything?

I’m also thinking about elections because I received a “voting guide” signed by several prominent national pastors today. It included a graphic comparing two candidates’ views on a handful of issues, and an offer to send my congregation however many copies we needed. It also included what individual pastors and congregations may or may not do to support a particular candidate. It all made me fairly uncomfortable; even if it were wise to do so, I would not publicly endorse anyone from my pulpit, nor would I associate my name or congregation with a particular organization for the purpose of influencing someone’s vote.

That does not mean, however, that I believe faith and elections do not connect. Just the opposite.

Persons of faith do not vote in a uniform way; to imply that “a real Christian/Jew/Muslim/Hindu/etc” would only vote for a particular person or would unanimously hold the same position on a particular issue is ridiculous. To believe God wants us to vote for one person or party comes dangerously close to idolatry; making God into our image, rather than the other way around. It’s true; believers and non believers alike disagree on abortion, capital punishment, the environment and so forth. But as persons of faith, or even non-believers, every American should participate in elections. Vote your conscience. Learn the issues. Vote in a way that reflects what you believe. But you need to vote! If you are not registered to vote,  you may do so until October 5. Election Day is November 3, but early voting is October 13-30. Here is a helpful website to answer all of your voting-related questions: https://projects.fivethirtyeight.com/how-to-vote-2020/

In addition to voting in the election, this year I signed up to work it! I sent my form in to the Grayson County elections office this morning. There is a nationwide concern of having enough poll workers in light of Covid19. You can sign up as well! Here’s a good place to start: https://www.powerthepolls.org/

Read the prayer at the beginning of this article again. Use these questions as a voting guide:

Who is sovereign over all peoples-- including every Democrat and Republican?

What is God’s will for those in positions of power?

What does God want from you and me?

See you at the polls in a couple of months!