This year’s presidential campaign has been depressing for many of us. There are major religious issues facing our country that do not seem important to either major political party.
Caring for the poor is a religious issue. While both parties argue over the middle class, no one is putting forth courageous policies that offer a real chance to poor families.
War is a religious issue. Jesus’ call to be peacemakers and love our enemies would seem out of place in either party’s platform. Do people even remember that we have troops in Afghanistan?
Telling the truth is a religious issue. After each debate, media outlets print lists of lies each candidate has told. Both lists are getting longer.
Neither of the major parties is making a serious effort to consider how free trade could be used to alleviate hunger, how basic medical coverage could be adjusted to lessen suffering, or how scrupulous concern for justice in the international arena could alleviate anger towards our country.
Christians are smart enough to consider issues beyond the last ridiculous punchline. Immigration, prison reform, and the environment matter to Christians because our faith has something to say about hospitality, revenge, and creation.
When Dorothy Day was criticized for what observers saw as the inconsistency of her “radical” political life and “conservative” religious life, she responded, “I don’t act politically on the street or worship in church to fit in with people who are radical or people who are conservative. I read the Bible. I try to pay attention to the life of Jesus Christ. I try to follow his example. I stumble all of the time, but I try to keep going—along the road he walked for us. I belong to a church, and when I made the decision to join it, I knew my whole life would change. For me, everything is religious—politics and the family and work, they all are part of our obligation to follow our Lord’s way.”
Imagine the good our country could do if Christians followed “our Lord’s way” and took God’s concern for the poor, peace, and honesty into the voting booth. What wonderful things would happen if our values were derived from the life of Christ rather than political partisanship?
Sincere Christians can choose to vote for different candidates for reasons deeply rooted in their faith. We can and do disagree on how to enhance human rights, protect children, promote racial reconciliation, and support gender equality. We may also share frustration that our politicians tend to appeal only to individual interests, national interests, and special interests. Faith leads us away from narrow-mindedness to act for the good of others.
Ours is a remarkable country with lofty, worthy goals. Participate in the process, pay attention to more than the superficial, and vote with concern for all people. On November 8, I will walk to P.S. 8 to cast my ballot. I will vote with appreciation for the privilege and disappointment at some of the choices we have been given.