With the Iowa Caucuses just two weeks away, the NH primary 3 weeks, Nevada and SC coming fast and then Super Tuesday, there is no doubt that we are in election mode. A few months ago, a friend at church texted me a great question: “does Grace support a presidential candidate?”
I blogged the following answer then, and thought I’d repeat it now. If you are a follower of Jesus, it’s extremely important that you vote, and that you vote from an informed perspective.
The short answer to the question 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. You can get good information from places like the NC Family Policy Council (ncfpc.org) if you tend right, or from Sojourners (sojo.net) if you tend left. Both of these are evangelical.
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. The ncfpc.org always produces a report of all NC candidates for state and federal office and their voting records on key policy issues. It’s helpful to see who has actually voted for what.
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 bold ideas, his actual administrating is really rather poor. The truth of the matter is that the presidency is one of 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… but everything worth doing will take some work. If you are reading this far, let me really encourage you to pray all year, and make sure you vote (in primaries, run offs and general election). We have the privilege of choosing those who govern us. Let’s make sure we use it.
Some of us are interested now and even called to be involved today deeply 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!