With Election Day getting closer and closer, emotions are running high. Many of us care deeply about our community and our nation, and we want the best people in positions of leadership. But it turns out that good, faithful Christians disagree about who should lead the nation. I care about who will be elected, but I care even more about how we treat one another during the election season and beyond. I know it's possible to disagree with someone over politics, and still love and respect them. I know it's possible to learn from the other side. And I know that all sides have some good ideas.
I've seen this article, “Ten Things Christians Need to Remember About This Election Season,” by United Methodist pastor Ben Gosden, several times on Facebook. I thought it might be helpful for us during the last few weeks before Election Day.
1. People in both political parties go to church. God is neither a Democrat nor a Republican. No political party has a monopoly on the will of God and there are good, Christian people who affiliate with both parties.
2. Talk radio and cable “news” only want ratings — it’s about the money. Remember, we live in a time where news stations would rather incite than inform the electorate if it means better ratings.
3. Those who argue about politics don’t love their country more than others. Our passion for issues comes out of a deep and abiding love for country. Just because someone disagrees with you does not mean they somehow hate the country.
4. Thinking a party’s platform is not flawed is a mistake. A lot of wheeling and dealing goes into forming a party’s platform. Compromises are made and it quickly becomes a document for a large group of constituents. This means it attempts to please everyone in one way or another. Think of it as more of a work-in progress.
5. Scripture tells us to pray for governing leaders (2 Timothy 2: 1-4) and to respect those in authority (Romans 13: 1-7) — whether we voted for them or not. When we mock or denigrate current or future leaders, the Holy Spirit is grieved. Christians are called to offer a witness to the world that rises above name-calling and insults. Period.
6. Don’t be paranoid. America has functioned and even thrived under both Democrat and Republican leadership. God is the only one truly in charge. Great leaders come in all shapes and sizes. We will not fall apart as a nation as a result of a single election.
7. Stop saying, “This is the most important election in our history.” We’re not nearly as unique as we might want to think we are. There will be another election and another one after that. We’re all striving to grow and become a better nation with every election.
8. Don’t spread those toxic political e-mails. Be the one to stop the circulation of propaganda-driven materials. Lovingly ask friends to stop sending them to you and be a witness for civility.
9. Don’t circulate partisan materials at your church. Encouraging people to vote is good. Telling them who to vote for from the pulpit or any other sacred space is not why the church exists.
10. Hold a prayer service the day after Election Day. With Election Day on a Tuesday, this could be a great way to use your weekly Wednesday time at church. Hold a service of prayer. Open your church all day for people to drop in and pray. Distribute liturgy and prayers for our nation and encourage people to make that a part of their day. We are the church, and that means we’re a people called to prayer.