Earlier this week, I voted for the very first time in the US. It’s early voting for city council in Kinston, and I exercised my right to elect people whom I think will make the best decisions for us. In just over a year, I’ll be voting for the first time for presidential and congressional candidates.
Which brings me to the question a friend at church texted me: “does Grace support a presidential candidate?”
Last night saw the 3rd GOP debate, and we saw one Democratic Party debate a couple of weeks ago. There are still around 20 people in the race to move into the White House at the end of next year. Does Grace support one of these persons?
The short answer is “no, we don’t.” As an organized church, the IRS says that we can advocate on issues but not FOR individuals if we want to maintain our tax exempt status. I like this rule: Let me speak clearly on abortion, taxes, foreign policy, education policy, poverty… but keep me from saying, “everyone at Grace must vote for person X,Y or Z.”
Here’s what we do at Grace:
We ask everyone to consider carefully what policy positions reflect biblical standpoints. Before we look at candidates, look at Scripture. Measure military policy, marriage policy, tax policy, etc., etc., by the teaching of Scripture (and not “proof texting” one line of one verse, but taking the arc of Scripture’s gospel teaching seriously). Know what kind of country, state or city we are longing for.
We ask everyone to judge the character of individuals worth more than party affiliation or even any given position. It’s one of the most unfortunate truisms of the last 40 years that “we don’t care what you do on your private time, just do the job well.” There’s no distinction… who you are when no one is looking is who you are.
We ask everyone to consider public decisions and public statements. They mean things. To that end, google and research primary documents/primary interviews. Do not rely on 12 second sound-bites of someone that goes viral. Watch the whole 10 minute speech. And for Pete’s sake, never, never, never believe the “storyline” that the news anchor is telling you; as if news organizations are immune to bias–this goes for conservative and liberal outlets.
Consider their competency and ability to get things done. They matter immensely. We currently have a president who is long on bold ideas, and short on executive experience. It shows. Whether or not you agree with his ideas, his actual administrating is really rather poor. The truth of the matter is that the presidency is one fo the most complex jobs in the world. It takes the ability to corral real opinions, delegate real authority, hold people to real accountability, and enforce real efficiency. Who’s got executive experience? Who doesn’t? These things matter,
Now, this seems like a lot of work… especially when there are 20 potentials when you add both parties together. The fields will narrow. Then many of us will need to do these things. Sometime next Fall, Grace will make available some of this research–the voting records of all the candidates in our races for November 2016.
However, some of us are interested now and even called to be involved today in the political process. Help your friends learn more about the current candidates and the strategies. As believers, it is as much our right and responsibility to shape the field of candidates, as any other citizen. And as believers, it is our duty to love our neighbor, which to my mind includes bringing truth, justice, liberty and kindness not just in individual ways, but in systemic, organized, governing ways. Get involved, and help the rest of us figure things out!