A Call to People of Faith

A biblical reflection on honoring God in the 2000 elections

Proverbs 14:31 (NRSV) "Those who oppress the poor insult their Maker, but those who are kind to the needy honor him."

I find myself frequently discouraged and disheartened by the workings ofthe United States political system. Though I have faith in God, who is muchgreater and more powerful than any leader or government, I struggle to seeGod's work in a system that increasingly provides justice for some ratherthan "justice for all." It is difficult for me to see God in leaders,political and otherwise, who do little to address the ways people areexploited daily in the wealthiest country in the world. And I wonder howmuch honor is being shown God by a society in which one out of every sixchildren lives in poverty.

The presidential election season often feels like a frantic race;candidates scramble to one-up each other with new proposals, strategies toappeal to swing voters, and speeches to persuade specific populations. Itis tempting to let ourselves get caught up in the drama (largely created bythe media) of the race and forget why we care so deeply about the outcome.In elections, especially the presidential election, it does matter who"wins", but the way the race is run, as well as what happens in theaftermath, also requires careful attention. And when we view the politicalprocess through a biblical lens, reflecting on our own lives, the impact ofelections takes on a different meaning.

It's easy to blame our leaders for what's wrong in this country.Indeed, much rides on those in office. Justice, however, doesn't fallsolely on the decisions of political leaders and the work of policy makers.As people of faith, we are responsible for holding our political leadersaccountable to the values our faith is built upon. We can't do that,however, without taking a closer look at our own lives, our daily decisionsand commitments, and how they reflect the values with which we judgepolitical candidates. It is always important to voice our deepdissatisfaction with political corruption and persistent systemicoppression, and to scrutinize the morals and motives of presidentialcandidates. Of equal importance, however, as people of faith, is to look atour own morals and values in light of the Biblical mandate to serve the poorand needy.

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The presidential election is an opportunity to reflect with one another onwhat's important to us as people of God living together in a democraticsociety. How do our own actions measure up to our expectations ofpresidential candidates and other leaders? What can we do in our own livesto hold leaders and persons in positions of power accountable on poverty andother social issues? What are we willing to work for and against toproclaim God's love in a country sorely lacking "justice for all?"

We, as people of faith, can use this time of year as a unique opportunity tohonor God. By supporting leaders and candidates who concern themselves withall of God's people, and by personally upholding the values we expectpolitical leaders to demonstrate, we follow God's Biblical teachings whileworking toward a more just society. The presidential election is a good wayto re-evaluate our values every four years; living out those values is agood way to honor God every day.

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Rebekah I. Menning
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