How are we called to civic engagement through participation in the electoral process?
Voting is one of the most important ways Americans can be involved in our representative democracy. Through the simple act of casting an informed vote, we have the opportunity and responsibility to help make decisions that will affect our lives and the lives of our families for the next two to eight years.
What does civic engagement mean for the church?
Scripture reveals God’s presence in all realms of life, including political life. This church understands government as a means through which God works to preserve creation and build a more peaceful and just social order in a sinful world. The electoral process is one way in which we live out our affirmation of baptism to “serve all people, following the example of our Lord Jesus,” and “to strive for justice and peace in all the earth.”
For the church, the effort must include Bible study and consideration of faithful decision-making. But it also involves facilitating voter registration programs, getting people to the polls, encouraging poll watching and monitoring, instigating issue discussions, and providing holistic voter education opportunities. As citizens of the United States, we have the right, the privilege, and the responsibility to be involved in the political process. As people of God, we have been freed to love our neighbor, seek peace and justice, and care for God’s creation. Faith should inform not only our participation but also how we look at public issues and interpret what is happening in political life.
Our Christian faith compels us to attend to the world through the lens of our relationship to God and to one another. As a public church, we have a responsibility to step outside our comfort zones and challenge ourselves to address issues that affect families, communities and neighbors throughout the world. As a church body, the ELCA uses its prophetic voice boldly to address important political, social and economic issues that affect local and global communities. This work grows out of our theological understanding of God at work in the world and is articulated in the social statements of this church, which you can find at ELCA.org/socialstatements on the Web.
The importance of nonpartisan civic engagement:
An important part of faithful civic engagement is abiding by the law: Any participation by churches in the electoral process must be strictly nonpartisan.
With this understood, it is still important to acknowledge that we have an amazing opportunity to strengthen the public debate around the electoral process by allowing our faith to ground our political ideals. As long as we educate ourselves about the laws surrounding our participation in electoral affairs, there are many activities that we can conduct that are both demonstrations of our Christian faith and are extremely valuable to our community and our nation!
The simple act of casting your vote can have a powerful effect. Your vote means that your elected officials are accountable to you. As a result, by voting you become an advocate for all of the change or consistency that you want to see in this country. This is the beauty of our electoral system.
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