“So then, whenever we have an opportunity, let us work for the good of all and especially for those of the family of faith.” Galatians 6:10 NRSVue
As Election Day quickly approaches in the United States (U.S.) on Tuesday, Nov. 8, the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the USA (NCC) is encouraging those in our member communions, people of faith, and all Americans, to fully participate in the democratic process by casting their ballots during this election season. Elections are an opportunity for hope and a way to have our voices heard. Voting is the most important civic responsibility for citizens of the U.S. and a vital means to affect change for the common good. While elections are a source of hope each year – hope for furthering the causes of justice, equity, and peace – increasingly elections also serve as a focal point for political division, disinformation, and cynical power plays. NCC urges our member denominations to embrace the hope and opportunity that comes with this year’s election and to reject the mean-spiritedness, division and rancor that have come to characterize American politics.
NCC is also gravely concerned about the current political climate, the violent rhetoric that has replaced honest political debate, and potential for violence during and after this year’s election. This includes concerns about the possible upticks in anti-Muslim, anti-Jewish, and racist rhetoric, bigotry, and violence, as well as violent attacks against political figures because of their positions on the issues. Such attacks jeopardize our democracy and cause unnecessary harm.
Furthermore, the midterms are the first nation-wide elections since the January 6, 2021 insurrection. The investigations into it have revealed the insidious influence of extremists who seek to impose their will upon the entire nation. As was demonstrated on January 6th, this includes assaulting and attempting to kill law enforcement officers, duly elected representatives of the people, and others. NCC denounces these efforts in the strongest possible terms and supports the continued investigation and prosecution of all threats of political violence. We must learn to disagree without retaliation, coercion or using force against those who hold different opinions and beliefs, or vote differently than we do.
One place where we have witnessed both cynicism and hope on display is in the struggle for guaranteeing voting rights for all. Congress has failed to repair the damage done by the Supreme Court when it struck down the preclearance provisions contained in the Civil Rights Act of 1968. Consequently, states around the country have sought to make voting more difficult, especially for voters of color. This is unacceptable. And, many continue to make false claims about the results of the 2020 election as new revelations point to possible criminal violations of election laws in the attempts to steal the 2020 election. Now more than ever, people of faith must speak up for the protection of voting rights for everyone as well as respect for the lawful, peaceful transfer of power once election results are known. We encourage churches to engage the NCCs Voter Empowerment Campaign to make sure that their congregants are registered to vote (where registration is still available), know how to vote, help people in their community returning from incarceration restore their vote, and help people access their polling place during early vote or on Election Day. This effort reflects the commitment of our member communions to protect the right to vote and encourage everyone to exercise that right.
We recognize that this year’s election comes in the midst of political, economic, moral, and social turmoil that only intensifies a sense of anxiety and uncertainty amongst the electorate. As people of faith, we must maintain hope and act for the common good of all by not only reaching out with charity but also organizing and expressing our voices in favor of compassion and justice through the ballot box.
Speaking on the great significance of voting, the late civil rights leader and long-serving member of Congress, John R. Lewis, said, “Your vote is precious, almost sacred. It is the most powerful nonviolent tool we have to create a more perfect union.”
People of faith must not sit and wait — out of complacency, apathy, or frustration over current political divisions. We must exercise our right to vote even as we do our part to make sure that others also have their voices heard and that the common good is upheld by those in office. If we are to build a future in which every person can thrive, our voices are needed. Every voice must be lifted. Every. Vote. Counts. This and every election is the time to lift our voice, all voices, and vote. On or before November 8, the NCC encourages its communions, people of faith and all Americans to get out to VOTE!