We hold governments responsible for the protection of the rights of the people to free and fair elections and to the freedoms of speech, religion, assembly, communications media, and petition for redress of grievances without fear of reprisal; to the right to privacy; and to the guarantee of the rights to adequate food, clothing, shelter, education, and health care.
UMC – What We Believe Social Principles – The Political Community accessed November 5, 2016
Like economics, politics is another topic that can be difficult to talk about with kids. Especially for young kids it is hard to imagine perspectives other than their own, and so much of a child’s views of anyone political candidate are likely echoes of their parents political views.
I was at a Bible camp a few years ago, riding on a pontoon boat with a group of 8 and 9 year old boys. “I can’t stand Barack Obama, do you have any idea what he’s done to our economy?” one eight year old boy shouted, seemingly out of the blue. Another 8 year old shouted back, “Barack Obama is the man! Everyone else in politics is just racist!” Not exactly nuanced political debate, but on the other hand, not much different from what the debates by pundits on tv sound like either.
That said, the political process and voting in particular are one of the ways that we show love to the world. By prayerfully evaluating candidates and policies, by supporting voter’s rights. By encouraging polticians to enact policies that are just and equitable we share God’s love and justice with the world.
Tomorrow is election day in the United States. There is so much anxiety in the air. I do not believe that it is the job of a minister to endorse any candidate or platform. I do think that there is a Christian response to the election though:
1- That we prayerfully and carefully consider our votes and look at the impact our votes will have not just on us, but on the marginalized in our communities and around the globe.
2- That we support the rights of people to vote and work to prevent voter suppression.
3- That we continue to love people who have different political views and remember that all voters and all candidates are made in the image of God.
A copy of Lillian’s Right to Vote
A picture of John Wesley, or a John Wesley bobble head.
Pictures of politicians or political candidates, and or supporters of political candidates.
Main Ideas (From What Every Child Should Experience)
Love your enemies
Methodist Heritage (John Wesley)
Guide me in ways that will help me address situations in a Christian way
My family helps me to consider and recognize the rights of others and understand what that means in the way that we live as a family.
Do you remember a few weeks ago, we talked about “Being made in the image of God?” I have a question for you, Who is made in the image of God?
I’m going to show you some different people and I want you to tell me if they are made in the image of God or not: (Show a series of pictures of candidates, politicians, and people supporting candidates.)
Every SINGLE human, every one of them. The ones we like, the ones we don’t and the ones we feel just sort of ok about. Every single person is made in the image of God. And because every single person in made in the image of God, part of how we love God and love people is to be loving to every single person.
I’m going to show you another person now, (hold up John Wesley) does anyone know who he is?
This is John Wesley, and he’s an important person in our church history, if we are in a Methodist Church, we are a part of John Wesley’s family. Way back in 1774, before the United States was even a country, John Wesley wrote some advice for voters he wrote:
October 6, 1774
I met those of our society who had votes in the ensuing election, and advised them
1. To vote, without fee or reward, for the person they judged most worthy
2. To speak no evil of the person they voted against, and
3. To take care their spirits were not sharpened against those that voted on the other side.
Now, because John Wesley lived a really long time ago, sometimes even if his words are amazing, they can be hard to understand so let’s try and say them in words we understand.
1 – Vote for the person you think is the best. And don’t let people pay you to vote for the person they want. Vote from your own heart and your own mind.
2- Don’t say mean things about they person you did not vote for.
3- Keep loving people who voted differently than you did.
Another way that we make sure that voting is done in a way that shows that we love God and we love people is to make sure that people are able to vote and have their votes counted. There have been lots of times in the US when different people weren’t allowed to vote. At first you had to be Rich, White and a man to vote, but it’s not just rich white men who are made in the image of God, it’s everyone. People worked hard and even died so that women, and poor people and people of every color could vote. One way that we continue to show God’s love is to help make sure that rich or poor, woman or man, Black, White, Asian, Latino, Native, Multi-racial, Middle-Eastern, whatever skin color people have, they have a way to vote.
If you have an extended period of time, I’d recommend reading Lillian’s Right to Vote it tells the story of 100 year old Lillian walking up the hill to her poling place and remembering her ancestors and parents and their struggle to have the right to vote from slavery to reconstruction, to the Jim Crow era to the Civil Rights era to the 2008 election. Lillian was a real woman who cast her ballot in 2008 at the age of 100.
Using in Worship
You could use this message eitiher in the lead up to, or post election. I know that several churches are advertising services of healing and hope after election results tomorrow.