It’s November and that means Packer’s football, thanksgiving dinners and election time. How many of you are tired of the election and the campaign commercials and can’t wait for November 7th to arrive. You have heard each candidate tell you what is wrong with the other candidate. You have heard grand sweeping claims of how they will transform the economy and save the US. Details are a little sketchy. You wonder why can’t we all get along and be civil with each other, respecting each other as people even as we disagree over issues.
As I have been watching the debates, speeches, and commentary on the candidates and their positions, I wonder how many of us put our faith and our politics in two separate boxes. Our faith talks about forgiveness and grace; speaks about care for the widows and orphans; tells us to feed the hungry, clothe the stranger, and visit the prisoners. Our faith talks about loving the unlovable; welcoming the unwelcome; and inviting the left out, the lost, and the last to come on in and experience God’s love and grace. Our faith talks about turning the other cheek and walking the extra mile. This can seem removed from our politics which speaks about energy independence, economic growth, free markets, job creation, and wars in countries we may not be able to find on a map.
So how do we bring our faith and our vote together? How do we vote our religious values and which of those religious values are the most important when voting? I think the first thing we have to do as religious people is to figure out what our bottom line belief is. When you think about being a Christian what is the verse or verses in the bible that you turn to for guidance. For me personally, I answer this question with the greatest commandment: Jesus answered, “The first is, ‘Hear, O Israel: the Lord our God, the Lord is one; you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ The second is this, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself’(Mark 12:29-31).” If this is the foundation of my faith, what does it mean for me as a citizen of a particular country, in a specific part of Wisconsin. So on every question from the economy to military intervention I have to ask of the candidates: how are you treating your neighbor, for there is no commandment greater than these? Does my love of God with heart, soul, mind, and strength infuse my decision making? For me this leads to questions about how the candidates will seek justice for the oppressed, the poor, and the forgotten.
Your answer to what is foundational for your faith may be different from mine. When you know what it is then looking at the political world through that filter will help you to ask questions of the candidates that may be different than the questions you looked at before. May your faith inform your vote.