Church Participation in an Election Year
The staffs of the Southeastern Pennsylvania and Lower Susquehanna Synods made a public commitment to vote in 2014!
Churches have a unique role to play at election time. With all of the cynicism and apathy that exists around politics and the electoral system, your efforts can act as a beacon of light encouraging those around you to support a process that ultimately selects decision makers, at all levels, who will directly affect your day-to-day life, and that of your neighbor.
In 2009 the ELCA prepared Called to be a Public Church: ELCA Civic Participation and Voter Education Guide. Former ELCA Presiding Bishop Mark Hanson wrote in the forward that,
“Scripture reveals God’s presence in all realms of life, including political life. This church understands government as a means through which God can work to preserve creation and build a more peaceful and just social order in a sinful world. The electoral process is one way in which we live out our affirmation of baptism to “serve all people, following the example of our Lord Jesus,” and “to strive for justice and peace in all the earth.”
Your vote, and activities that support others going to the polls, are one way to concretely love your neighbor by participating as a citizen in the common good.
The 2014, updated edition of Called to be a Public Church: ELCA Civic Participation Guide provides information to help you:
- to make sense of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) tax code for 501(c)(3) organizations and provide a “how to” guide for congregational interaction with electoral politics while speaking truth to our government.”, and
- to provide logistical information and best practices on how to go about your civic engagement activities.
- how to conduct a voter registration guide, hold a candidates forum, offer assistance at the polls , write letters to the editor and how to conduct non-partisan campaign activity
- a Called to be a Public Church discussion guide
In Pennsylvania, the Department of State website has tools to help you register to vote, find polling places and apply for an absentee ballot . To vote in the November election, registered voters are not required to show a photo ID, following the order issued by Commonwealth Court in January 2014 permanently blocking the controversial photo identification law. New voters must show an acceptable proof of identification. The website VotesPA has helpful information for special voter circumstances.
For local ballot information and polling places, visit the VIP voting project.
As always, please contact the LAMPa office for another other resources or assistance as you engage in being a public church.