In faith we vote

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By Rev. Lee Carney Hartman

The kingdom of God is not a democracy per se, but we’re encouraged to approach voting as an act of faith. As our United Methodist Social Principle’s suggest: The strength of a political system depends upon the full and willing participation of its citizens. The church should continually exert a strong ethical influence upon the state, supporting policies and programs deemed to be just and opposing policies and programs that are unjust. (2016 Book of Discipline, ¶164)

What is “just” or “unjust” is not always obvious of course, but our Social Principles and Book of Resolutions offer the global UMC’s best understanding as it has considered the various topics. What would Jesus do in the face of current crises and opportunities? The General Board of Church and Society (GBCS) lays out such considerations on the “What We Care About” section of their website. Check it out for Biblical connections and Social Principles suggestions that apply to some of the electoral decisions before us.

The Washington State ballots this season include initiatives relating to earth stewardship (Initiative 1631) and gun violence (Initiative 1639).

Alongside a prayerful and careful read of initiative 1631, one might consider the Biblical connections and GBCS perspective shared here. The United Methodist Church supports efforts “of all governments to require mandatory reductions in greenhouse gas emissions and calls on individuals, congregations, businesses, industries, and communities to reduce their emissions.” (BOD, ¶160.D).

Alongside a prayerful and careful read of Initiative 1639, one might consider the Biblical connections and GBCS perspective shared here. The United Methodist Church urges “congregations to advocate at the local and national level for laws that prevent or reduce gun violence, including universal background checks.”

Propositions in Idaho invite decisions on horse racing and Medicaid. Alongside prayerful and careful readings of Idaho propositions 1 and 2, one might consider the Biblical connections and extensive reflections offered by GBCS here. United Methodist Social Principles urge abstinence from gambling (BOD, ¶163), and advocate for health care as a basic human right (BOD, ¶162.v).

Our shared desire to please God has plenty of room for political diversity. We can expect and accept that our completed ballots will reflect differing conclusions as to what is most faithful. But if politics involve how we hope to live together, and how we use our power to that end – then faith is political. Let’s vote faith-fully.

A sample prayer with ballot in hand:

God Most High, Restorer of Souls, Governor of the Universe, come and have your way with us. Our allegiance is to you.

Guide our discerning as we choose electoral candidates and decide on initiatives with your kindom in mind. We ask your blessing on these candidates, the work and heart behind them, and all who serve according to your will. We ask your guiding of our efforts to care as you care and to act as you call us into action. We ask your revealing in the darkness of current deceptions and distrust as we reach anew for Life in you. God of all nations, known to us in Jesus the Christ – your kingdom come, your will be done. Amen.


Rev. Lee Carney Hartman serves as pastor of Snoqualmie United Methodist Church. She is also a member of the Pacific Northwest Conference Board of Church and Society.

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