I grew up in a family for whom not voting was not an option. My father started his public education career as a 7th grade teacher of history, especially American history and civics. As a World War II veteran, he was filled with patriotism and worked hard to infuse all of us with that spirit. In our family, politics was a regular topic of conversation. Civic participation was one of our family values.
The state I’m from years ago limited the ability of school districts to increase their budgets without asking the permission of the voters. And while we did not live in the district where my father worked, my parents knew lots of my teachers and they cared about me and my siblings’ education. So my first electoral involvement was in walking door-to-door for school budget override elections.
The church I grew up in also took civic participation seriously. The men’s fellowship had what I now know are ‘challenge coins’ minted up; with a cross and the word “God” on one side and an American Flag and the word “freedom” on the other. And while today I am not completely comfortable with that conflation, I still carry one of those coins.
But of course, my church also was clear about the justice call of both the Old and New Testaments. And I am completely clear and comfortable with the relationship with voting and the biblical call to love and live out God’s call for justice.
I recently saw a quote from that well-known prophet, Bruce Springsteen who was quoted as saying, “Our vote is the principle way we get to determine that distance and that equation. Voting matters. Elections matter.” The distance and equation he was talking about is the distance between the American dream and the American reality.
For me, it is the distance between God’s vision and our reality. But everything else The Boss said holds true: voting is the way we determine and change the equation. It is one of the principle ways we can reduce the distance between the way the world is and the way we believe it ought to be.
I got started early in political campaigns. Over the years I have been involved in many different campaigns, both for candidates and causes. It has always been my faith that has brought me to the phone bank, the Saturday morning door-knocking walk or the Friday night rally. And of course, to the voting booth as well.
This year the United Church of Christ has launched a new mission initiative, which we call the Faith, In Project. In this initiative we have invited congregations to loudly proclaim their faith in our Stillspeaking God, and to live out that faith in their communities through mission and service. “LIVE your faith. LOVE your community,” is what we say. For me, voting is one of the best ways I can live out my faith in Lakewood, Ohio where I live and Cleveland where I work. It’s a great way for you to live out your Faith In wherever you live, too.
The United Church of Christ has 5,194 churches throughout the United States. Rooted in the Christian traditions of congregational governance and covenantal relationships, each UCC setting speaks only for itself and not on behalf of every UCC congregation. UCC members and churches are free to differ on important social issues, even as the UCC remains principally committed to unity in the midst of our diversity.