In a Presidential election year, it is worth reflecting on our intersecting roles as citizens and as people of faith. From a Christian perspective, a moral and just society is one that cares for its most vulnerable citizens. Our faith matters not only in how we see the world, but also in how we live in it and engage with it. We have the collective power to bring our faith to the political landscape this year and effect positive change.
Many of us are unsettled by the election debates already. Candidates have unapologetically sparred over how they accumulated their wealth and how much of it they have. One candidate remarked that he wasn’t concerned about the very poor. All candidates, regardless of party affiliation, are heavily dependent on campaign funds. Arguing over their respective financial situations only exposes how out of touch they are with the realities and struggles of ordinary people.
At the same time, political candidates are working to gain our trust. Our vote matters to them. And we are right to expect more from our public servants. More transparency. More humility. More willingness to set aside partisan power struggles and collaborate on meaningful policies that reflect our deeply held faith values of compassion and justice.
As the spin-doctoring work of this election year sets into full swing, I find myself heartened by a few signs of people power at work. Earlier this month, an overwhelming response to the Susan G. Komen Foundation’s decision to defund Planned Parenthood’s breast screening services was enough to change their minds. Change.org, a site for online petitions, had so many wins from various online advocacy efforts this week that they began their weekly message with, “Mondays are almost never this exciting. But yesterday was a phenomenal day for four huge campaigns...” The Occupy movement is still mobilizing ordinary people who for various reasons are fed up with the powers that be.
Communities of faith, if we use our time and efforts wisely, can harness our collective voice and make an impact on the policies and political offices that are up for grabs this year. We can respond to the political landscape that puts power and wealth above human lives by demanding people and policies that are guided by justice and serve the common good. We have a chance to rally, organize and inform ourselves. Our faith matters when we show up at town hall meetings, political debates, interfaith community coalitions, the voting booth, and online.
Our Faith Our Vote (OFOV) is one of the ways we can address and impact public life from a place of faith. OFOV was conceived by the United Church of Christ as a nonpartisan advocacy approach that includes voter registration, issues education and mobilizing for voter participation. It equips people to reflect on and engage political candidates and issues from a faith perspective. It offers resources that invite reflection and thoughtful, respectful dialogue—rather than vitriolic debate—with a goal of helping people to make informed political decisions that reflect their faith values.
Our Faith Our Vote resources are available online, and monthly webinars will be offered in support of congregations beginning in April 2012.
The United Church of Christ has more than 5,277 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.