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Dos and Don'ts During the Election Season
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Volume VII  Issue 16                  

20 September 2012





Have you ever noticed that the United States government lives quadrennially, just like The United Methodist Church? I have lived in Washington, DC for three quadrennia, so I'm adept at the cycle of elections, of saying goodbye to friends and meeting new residents, and of wondering if the next administration will bring about "Home Rule" for those of us who call the District of Columbia our home. (Those notations of "D" and "R" don't always mean one is better at justice issues than the other).

Today, I walked out of Union Station to hear a beautiful trumpet playing "Be Thou My Vision." As I walked closer, the musician was standing near a sign that proclaimed, "Cast a Vote for the Bible!"

What does it mean to cast a vote for the Bible? Which parts of the Bible? What biblical values?

This issue of MFSA's eNews is dedicated to the many ways in which faith and politics intersect. In this election season, let us be in prayer for all the candidates and their families, but most importantly for the constituents they seek to represent. The votes we cast have great impact around the globe - even on our United Methodist family in Africa, Europe, and The Philippines. May we extend acts of Holy Conversation beyond the walls of the church during this election season and ask ourselves the tough questions when faith and politics intersect.

Grace and peace,
Chett Pritchett
Development and Communications Associate

National CalltoActionAlternativeA Christian Voting Guide    

We have been given the gift of democracy through the hard efforts of our national founding fathers and the generations of Americans since then. We sometimes get complacent with this gift because it has always been there for us. However, if we are to be stewards of the gifts given to us we must take the responsibilities of democracy seriously. Always vote.


All of us are profoundly affected by who takes office. We are affected by who is president, by who sits in the Senate, House of Representatives, state legislatures, local and state courts, city government, and school board. Always vote.


Some think that all politicians are crooks and it doesn't matter which party gets the vote. There are days I might agree with you. But the candidates for any office are never identical. Vote for the better candidate if you can. Vote for the less worse if that is all there is. Always vote.


I've seen Christian voter guides that rate candidates based on some criteria. This isn't one. I won't tell you who to vote for. I won't tell you who I'm voting for. Instead, I'll describe what principles - Christian principles - that guide my decisions. They aren't what one normally sees in Christian voter guides. These are some of the things I look for:


* Does the candidate stress cooperation, a sense that we're all in this together, that we are responsible for each other? I will choose that person over one who shouts fear of the other.


* Does the candidate have compassion for the poor and look for ways to help the less fortunate improve their circumstances?


* We have inherited a vast array of jointly owned property and institutions, from national parks, roads and highways, water and sewer works to libraries, hospitals, schools and universities, museums and concert halls, and public services willing to help anyone who needs it. Is the candidate willing to maintain and improve our shared resources or let it crumble into dust?


* Does the candidate talk about how taxes maintain our jointly owned property; fully fund the education of everyone - including the poor; pay police, firefighters and teachers a respectable salary; and provide a public safety net? Does he or she mention responsibility along with freedom? Or does the candidate insist that any tax is offensive?


* Does the candidate look for ways to protect the average person from the greed and recklessness of the powerful?


* Does the candidate consider the health of all, including the poor? I will choose that person over one who only considers what profits can be made through the health care industry.


* Does the candidate look for ways to protect and improve the health of the environment?


* Does the candidate value science or dismiss it?


* If the candidate talks of the unborn, does he or she also talk about quality of life after birth?


Vote wisely.

Vote with compassion.

Vote for community.  

Vote for health.  

Always vote.


Copyright 2012 Paul Kinney, emphasis added. Permission is granted to copy as long as this copyright notice is included and copying is not done for profit.

Question the Candidates


A few blocks from MFSA's Washington Office the Friends Committee on National Legislation (FCNL) has developed a few questions to help us think about questions that progressive people of faith should ask candidates for national office.   


"The political conventions in Tampa and Charlotte mark the beginning of the final campaign season before the November elections. Members of Congress will spend most of the next two months on the campaign trail talking with constituents. FCNL has prepared questions that you can ask candidates during election season. Asking questions now, when candidates are asking for your vote, can influence members' actions when they come to Washington." 




Is Climate Change Real?
Do you believe that human activity is harmfully changing the Earth's climate in a way that will impact your constituents now and in the future? 


Do You Support Nuclear Disarmament?   

Do you agree with Former Secretaries of State Henry Kissinger and George Shultz, among others, who argue that the United States should pursue "a world free of nuclear weapons"? If you are in the Senate when the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty is brought to a vote, will you work and vote for ratification?  


Will You Support Diplomacy With Iran?
I'm concerned that escalating threats between the U.S. and Iran could lead to war. As former Joint Chiefs of Staff Chair Admiral Mullen has warned, the lack of dialogue between the U.S. and Iran could easily lead to conflicts that spiral out of control. Will you support direct, one-on-one talks with Iran to prevent violence and nuclear proliferation? 

After you've asked your question, forward the questions to three people (such as friends, family members, or coworkers) and encourage them to ask their candidates to respond to the questions during campaign season.


Email might be the most effective, but many candidates are active on Facebook, Twitter and other forms of social media, and their campaigns monitor these sites closely to gauge what people are saying. 

You can find more questions about peace and justice by clicking here. 
Dos and Don'ts During the Election Season

It's a fine line between appropriate and inappropriate in church. This is even more true during the election season. At MFSA, we often get questions from Chapters asking if they can give their support to a candidate (the answer is no) or from churches asking if they can hold a forum on certain politicized topics (the answer is yes). 


Interpreter Magazine recently published a good list of dos and don'ts to guide you this election season.  


Why is it important to follow these guidelines, you ask? Not doing so could put your church (or MFSA Chapter) at risk for losing tax-exempt status. To learn more check out the IRS Tax Guide for Churches and Religious Organizations.   

ProgressivePonderingsProgressive Ponderings
FacebookSocial Media Corner

Friday is the International Day of Peace. You can share your beliefs via Social Media and MFSA is going to make it easy for you. All you have to do is cut and paste!

On Facebook: Today is the International Day of Peace. I pray for peace in our world, our nation, our community, and our homes. Will you join me?

On Twitter: Today, I join with @MFSAVoices in praying for peace in our world, nation, communities, and homes.  #peaceday
Methodist Federation for Social Action
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