Episcopalians dive into local voter mobilization efforts leading up to November elections

By David Paulsen
Posted Aug 9, 2018

[Episcopal News Service] The election in November will catch no one by surprise at the Church of St. Martin-in-the-Fields in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Dozens of church members are participating in voter education drives, and the congregation’s goal is 100 percent parishioner turnout on election day.

Civic engagement is running just as high at Holy Cross Episcopal Church in Decatur, Georgia, an Atlanta suburb. The congregation is sending parishioners to canvass the neighborhood around the church in support of statewide efforts to register up to 1.2 million new voters.

And in Indiana, the Diocese of Indianapolis has hosted voter outreach events where church volunteers are part of an interfaith initiative seeking to reach more than 100,000 Indianans who haven’t voted before.

“We often talk about how Jesus’ life shows us to be politically active. … We need to care about the most vulnerable members of our community,” said the Rev. Carol Duncan, a deacon who is coordinating St. Martin-in-the-Fields’ participation in election-related efforts. Episcopalians like Duncan have been outspoken in their call to “vote faithfully” because the church alone cannot change unjust systems. “You can’t do that unless you vote,” Duncan said.

U.S. Capitol exterior

The Episcopal Church’s Office of Government Relations is based in Washington, D.C., near the Capitol and offers resources to help Episcopalians mobilize for elections in nonpartisan ways. Photo: David Paulsen

Although Episcopalians may be motivated by personal political beliefs, their church-based election efforts are necessarily nonpartisan. Those efforts also are grounded in church policies established by General Convention, which just last month passed additional resolutions calling Episcopalians to greater political engagement. That engagement has the continued support of the church’s Office of Government Relations in Washington, D.C.

“Voting and participation in our government is a way of participating in our common life, and that is a Christian obligation,” Presiding Bishop Michael Curry said in a video statement before the 2016 presidential election. The Office of Government Relations’ Episcopal Public Policy Network referenced Curry’s comments again this week in an updated message about the upcoming elections.

How does someone “vote faithfully”? The message issued Aug. 7 provides resources, including links to voter registration information, states’ voting policies and polling locations. It also links to the Episcopal Church’s voter “toolkit,” which provides further guidance on individual action and community mobilization in ways guided by faith.

“We encourage Episcopalians to engage in the democratic process this fall by promoting voter registration, learning about candidates on the ballot in your area, making a plan for yourself to vote on Election Day, and helping others to do the same,” Office of Government Relations Director Rebecca Linder Blachly told Episcopal News Service. “Our Vote Faithfully Toolkit provides resources for parishes and individuals to get involved and to participate in our civic duty.”

The Rev. Fatima Yakubu-Madus, missioner for community engagement for the Diocese of Indianapolis, saw the emailed message this week and thought it was perfect material to adapt for an upcoming diocesan newsletter. Not everyone in her diocese has time to volunteer with the ongoing voter engagement drives.

Yakubu-Madus took on the missioner role just this year, after serving since 2010 as a deacon at St. John’s Episcopal Church in Speedway, Indiana. While at St. John’s, she regularly participated in neighborhood canvassing – knocking on doors, encouraging people to vote and helping them register if they weren’t yet registered.

She now is active in the collective of congregations known as Faith in Indiana, which is leading the effort to reach more than 100,000 unregistered voters and persuade them to go to the polls on Nov. 6. Church volunteers have called some of those residents during phone banks the diocese has hosted at Christ Church Cathedral in Indianapolis and at St. Christopher’s Episcopal Church north of the capital in Carmel. The Episcopal volunteers are specifically focused on reaching residents in a legislative district with historically low voter turnout.

Why is that a church function? Civic action is rightly influenced by faith, Yakubu-Madus argued, taking her cue from the presiding bishop’s comments on the subject.

“We have to participate in voting,” she said. Government agencies have unparalleled capacity to fulfill the Christian mission of serving people living on the economic margins of society, and “nobody’s going to if we don’t vote.”

General Convention regularly affirms the church’s commitment to political engagement.

“Our church has policy that urges all of us to advocate for the right to vote, including eliminating barriers to voting,” Blachly said. “Voter registration issues are addressed at the state level, so we encourage you to get involved.”

Two resolutions approved at General Convention in Austin last month address voting rights issues. Resolution C047 commits the church to advocating in support of the principle of “one person, one vote” – that all citizens’ votes should have equal impact on electoral outcomes.

Although the resolution doesn’t elaborate, its supporting explanation lists some examples of areas of concern: “Some impediments are as old as our nation and are embedded within the U.S. Constitution, such as the electoral college and the manner in which U.S. senators are elected,” the explanation says. “Other impediments are newer or have become increasingly problematic over recent decades, such as gerrymandering, variations in ballot access and in how votes are cast and counted across the country, certain aspects of campaign financing, and the increasingly sophisticated technology used in micro-targeting voters.”

Resolution D003 condemns measures that result in voter suppression and supports steps to increase voter participation, such as “policies that will increase early voting, extend registration periods, guarantee an adequate number of voting locations, allow absentee balloting without the necessity of having an excuse, and prohibit forms of identification that restrict voter participation.”

The resolution also singles out partisan gerrymandering for criticism and urges the National Conference of State Legislators to develop a fair process for establishing legislative and congressional districts.

Gerrymandering is the tactic of drawing districts that will favor one party over the other in elections, usually by packing similar voters into just a few districts or diluting them across several districts where they will remain in the minority. The U.S. Supreme Court chose not to rule on the constitutionality of partisan gerrymandering in a decision issued earlier this year, leaving open the door to further legal challenges.

The debate over gerrymandering is complicated further by gerrymandering’s use, under the Voting Rights Act of 1965, to ensure greater minority representation in Congress by drawing district lines to create what are known as “majority-minority” districts. Critics have argued, however, that this has had the long-term partisan effect of pooling more Democratic voters together and ceding more districts to Republicans.

So why should churches and Christians get involved?

“For the follower of Jesus, gerrymandering undercuts our fundamental vow to respect the dignity of every human being,” the Rev. Jarrett Kerbel, rector of Philadelphia’s St. Martin-in-the-Fields, wrote in an October 2017 article. “Participation in shaping our common life is a Christian duty and something Christians regard, respect and protect for all people regardless of affiliation, belief or nonbelief.”

Pennsylvania was then grappling with its own gerrymandering controversy, and in January, the state Supreme Court ruled the congressional district boundaries were unconstitutional. The court followed up with a map establishing new district lines that will take effect when the next term of Congress begins in 2019.

Puzzle map

The reform group Fair Districts PA held a presentation in October 2017 at the Church of St. Martin-in-the-Fields in Philadelphia about redistricting. The event featured the map of Pennsylvania in the form of a puzzle that attendees could piece together. Photo courtesy of St. Martin-in-the-Fields

St. Martin-in-the-Fields, meanwhile, has turned its focus to voter education and voter registration.

“We know how important voting is, particularly this year,” said Duncan, St. Martin’s deacon. Her church has partnered with a group called POWER, an interfaith coalition of more than 50 congregations focused on community organizing in southeastern and central Pennsylvania.

POWER organizers led a forum in July at St. Martin-in-the-Fields, and about 40 parishioners attended to learn more about voter mobilization efforts, Duncan said. A training is scheduled Aug. 26 to coincide with the kickoff event for a voter education drive.

Other examples of Episcopal engagement can be found across the country. Good Samaritan Episcopal Church in San Diego, California, will host the League of Women Voters on Sept. 29 for a presentation about state propositions. The Diocese of Texas’ Episcopal Health Foundation partnered in 2016 with Mi Familia Vota to register Latino voters, and similar efforts in metropolitan Houston and Atlanta are in the works for this election cycle.

“People’s votes really do matter,” said Soyini Coke, a member of Holy Cross Episcopal Church in Decatur, who is coordinating the congregation’s voter registration efforts in the metro Atlanta area.

Soyini Coke

Soyini Coke, right, arranged for a voter mobilization training at Holy Cross Episcopal Church in Decatur, Georgia, led Aug. 4 by the New Georgia Project organizers, including Carey C.J. Jenkins. Photo: Dennis Patterson Jr.

Coke admitted she was one of the citizens who never voted in elections and had been disinterested in the political process – until the November 2016 presidential election. She was disheartened by the outcome but committed herself to turning her anger into action.

“It is not sufficient to just complain,” she said, so she and about 20 parishioners met at Holy Cross on Aug. 4 for voter registration training followed by making direct contact with voters. Some broke into teams of two to knock on doors, guiding unregistered voters through the process of signing up. Others remained at the church to call potential voters on lists provided by the New Georgia Project.

The nonpartisan New Georgia Project has been registering Georgians to vote for several years with a goal of full participation of all eligible voters. It was able to identify 400 unregistered residents within a two-mile radius of Holy Cross, Coke said. The Aug. 4 registration drive generated 396 phone calls, 97 contacts with voters and seven new voter registrations.

That’s just the beginning. Holy Cross hopes to organize similar drives in the months leading up to the November election, Coke said. It is a majority black church, and such activism has deep roots in the black church tradition, she said.

“It’s very natural there,” she said. “If you’re going to talk about activism in the black community, the church is at the center of that and always has been.”

– David Paulsen is an editor and reporter for the Episcopal News Service. He can be reached at dpaulsen@episcopalchurch.org.


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Comments (100)

  1. Ron Davin says:

    Vote for the Republican of your choice

    1. Robin Garr says:

      Without regard to party, read the Beatitudes, read Matthew 25 (“When I was hungry, you gave me something to drink”), and read the parables of the rich young man and the Good Samaritan. Then pray for help in discerning the candidates who best approximate Jesus’ way.

      1. Norman Hutchinson says:

        Robin Garr, You have exactly the correct context for filtering the positions that various candidates espouse. Citing Matthew 25, and the good Samaritan parable are but two examples from the Gospels that can assist us in making appropriate decisions about candidates.

    2. Charlene R Cook says:

      Agree with you Ron Davin !!

  2. Matt Ouellette says:

    I’m glad to see churches working to get people out to vote. It’s important that every citizen who is able participates in the voting process. Every voice needs to be heard, regardless of which political party or cause we might support. That’s what makes a representative democracy like ours function properly.

  3. Jim Cutshall says:

    The greatest fear I have is an electoral public who blindly vote how they are told to vote. If a person has no interest in voting and you have to convince them to vote then you will get an uneducated vote that mirror someone else’s desire.

    On gerrymandering, where was your voice when Republicans were complaining? Why can’t we have outrage regardless of the party.

    When will we learn to teach a man to fish rather than putting him on a lifetime of government handouts that keep him dependent on the powers to be?

    Are you not encouraged by the lowest unemployment rate in decades?

    Don’t drink the kool aid!

    1. Matt Ouellette says:

      When we’re Republicans complaining about gerrymandering? It seems to me they are more interested in gerrymandering themselves, not stopping it. Both parties do it, but one has done it far more than the other. And while a low unemployment rate is good, it is just the continuation of good economic numbers from the Obama administration, not anything Trump has done. Those tax cuts on the rich have had little effect on the economy, and wages are still stagnant.

      1. Jim Cutshall says:

        I am probably a few years older than you so I remember when it was the other way around as to gerrymandering. Not good either way. Both do it.

        I guess you would say the same about Carter and Ronald Reagan?

        1. Matt Ouellette says:

          I’m glad we can agree on gerrymandering. We need to do something to put an end to it on both sides. How about having an independent commission draw congressional district lines instead of partisan officials?

          Not sure what you are referring to regarding Carter and Reagan. If you are implying that Reagan’s tax cuts for the rich were sound policy, I’d suggest reading this article by a former Reagan policy advisor for some perspective:
          https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/posteverything/wp/2017/09/28/i-helped-create-the-gop-tax-myth-trump-is-wrong-tax-cuts-dont-equal-growth/?utm_term=.4ce482a1a685

          1. David A salmon says:

            Matt – basic research, beyond what a left leaning newspaper states, shows that Reagan’s economy was an overwhelming success; how the left continues to deny this is delusional.

            https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.forbes.com/sites/stevemoore/2016/05/04/obamanomics/amp/

        2. Jordan Sakal says:

          Absolutely, everyone does it but that doesn’t make it right. Gerrymandering is a stain on our democracy

      2. Jim Cutshall says:

        I will stop now. the party line gets old.
        have a great day.

    2. Charlene R Cook says:

      Agree Jim Cutshall!

    3. Charlene R Cook says:

      Agree Jim Cutshall!

    4. Richard H Frost says:

      Jim, There have always been inadequately informed votes. People often vote for their party of affiliation, out of habit , ethnicity, or general values. But there is little point in encouraging people to get informed unless they do vote. That’s an important starting point.

  4. Robbie Johnson says:

    The Liberals control The Episcopal Church. They, along with the church leadership, do not want conservatives to vote.

    1. John Miller says:

      I am confused. Nothing in the article indicated a party choice? I think it is great to have voter registration drives; after all, people decide for whom to vote when they get in that booth. I think registration and voting should be made easier: on line voting, early voting, easy absentee voting.
      When I was a young whippersnapper my parents took me to the voting location (an Episcopal Church, by the way). Irt made a big impression on me.

    2. Charlene R Cook says:

      I feel the same way Robbie Johnson.

  5. Elizabeth Kaeton says:

    Vote. Just, VOTE

  6. Karen Birr says:

    This is all fine and good, however, I cannot believe these vote drives are nonpartisan. How about encourage more people to WORK at the polls. Volunteers are desperately needed. What happen to ‘separation of church and state’? This all seems to me the churches are getting close to losing their tax shelter by participating so much as stated above. Calling banks? Really? From a church? Again, separation of church and state. again, nonpartisan? Really? I don’t mind getting people to register to vote, however, it is wrong to tell them HOW to vote. I worked at the polls over 10 years. I saw everything right and wrong about the voting system. Again, encourage people to work at the polls. That is their patriotic duty!

    1. Jordan Sakal says:

      To answer your question about what happened to the separation of church and state, look no further than the “Christian Right” and the “Moral Majority” which infested the Republican Party in the 1980s (and has continued to do so today) They use the party as nothing more than a platform for their agenda.

      This is just TEC engaging in civics.

      1. Robbie Johnson says:

        Yet it is ok for the Liberals and the LGBTQ is contol the Democratic Party! It is not ok for the Mpral Majority and other conservative groups to put pressure on the Republican Party. According to Liberals, they must be able to speak their views. Conservatives must keep the mouths shut!

        1. Jordan Sakal says:

          Robbie,

          Did I ever say it was okay for the LGBTQ+ community to be in control of the Democratic Party (not that we are)? No, I did not. My comment was that the dissolution of the idea of antidisestablishmentarianism lies at its roots with the Republicans in the 1980s, not the Democrats now.

      2. Andrew Poland says:

        Jordan: Saying that TEC is just practicing civics is a bit disingenuous. It’s also disingenuous to act like churches stayed out of political theater until the crazy evangelicals started pushing for Republicans. For one, churches have been political agents since the founding of this country. TEC has just been wrong on either side of the spectrum so long that they should have learned a lesson by now. That OGR office is a den of progressive, socialistic, millennial pandering, identity politiking social justice warriors as are certain other prominent corners of the church. To act as if this is all innocent and sweet, like a child’s lemonade stand, is either naive or insulting. Take your pick.

        1. Matt Ouellette says:

          I see, so anything secular conservatives disagree with now are all the result of socialists, political correctness, SJWs, and all the other right-wing bogeymen. It can’t possibly be that there are moral issues that secular conservatism in America are on the wrong side of.

          1. David A Salmon says:

            I see, so anything secular liberals disagree with now are all the result of Republicans Nazis, conservative racists, misogynists and all the other left-wing bogeymen. It can’t possibly be that there are moral issues that secular liberalism in America are on the wrong side of…FIFY

            Matt, you try to say every issue is a moral one and that, of course, your “side” is the only ethical one, the only caring one, the only Christian one. Yes, there are conservatives that feel the same as you, that only conservative beliefs are correct, but that is not solving any problems. We have seen the failures of liberal political solutions as reflected in Chicago, D.C. , every large city, our schools with the solutions always the same: more money thrown at a failed policy, more government control (i.e. more Democrat Party control) and punish for certain segments of society Democrats do not like.

            Both sides need to listen to the other and have committed the sin of ideological purity. But do not make the mistake of thinking the holier than thou, only our side is Christian progressive thinkers are any different than the Moral Majority; they are not, cut from the same cloth, just on the opposite side

          2. Matt Ouellette says:

            David, as I’ve kept trying to articulate, my support for the moral positions of TEC has nothing to do with endorsing the liberal “side,” but because I think those positions should be supported regardless of which side one falls on the political spectrum. In fact, many of the positions supported by TEC are also supported by mainstream conservative groups around the world. Action on climate change is supported by virtually all conservative parties in the developed world, defending immigrants is supported by conservative organizations like the Roman Catholic Church, virtually all conservative parties support common sense gun control in developed nations, etc. It is not an endorsement of secular American liberalism for TEC to support these moral positions. Rather, it is an indictment of secular American conservatism, which is out of step with the rest of global conservatism on many of these issues.

            On another topic, could you give examples of how liberal policies have failed Chicago and other cities? I hear this talking point from conservatives a lot, but usually with no data to support it.

          3. David A Salmon says:

            Matt – okay, so you say these are moral positions. What you seem not to understand is that most conservatives are opposed to the “solutions” offered by progressives. You use raise climate change as an example. The United States actually did better than Europe in lowering emissions. The progressives want to follow the Paris Accord which is not a treaty, has no enforce for not achieving any targets and has the sole purpose of being a massive wealth transfer from the developed countries to the undeveloped countries (most of which will wind up in Swiss bank accounts of third world leaders). It will do nothing to help the climate but will make progressives feel good about themselves. Conservatives are opposed to this type of nonsense and are willing to look at market based solutions that will help the third world raise itself out of poverty while protecting the environment.

            https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.forbes.com/sites/rrapier/2017/10/24/yes-the-u-s-leads-all-countries-in-reducing-carbon-emissions/amp/

            As far as failed liberal policies, what stats do you want? Detroit, Chicago, San Francisco, for example, have been ruled by Democrats for decades. You think these are successful places? Detroit looks like a third world city, Chicago’s gun violence is an abomination (and trying to blame that on Indiana’s gun laws is absurd, it is against the law for non-citizens of a state to transport guns across borders). San Francisco has human waste, drug needle and homeless problems beyond compare and don’t get me started on our schools. If these were conservative, Republican run cities, progressives would be screaming. What proof do you need?

          4. Jordan Sakal says:

            Mr. Salmon,

            The problem with your assertion that “liberal” policies are unpopular to conservative elements is not true especially given the evidence Mr. Ouellette has provided which indicate that for topics such as climate change or immigration or poverty and wages and so many other things. Governments are unified both conservative factions and liberal factions in their beliefs in certain policies are needed. For example, they believe that climate change is a thing that is happening that is destroying the Earth.

            The Paris Climate Accord is signed by such nations as Iran, Syria (which is in the middle of a civil war, and ywt still upholding the agreement) Canada, Mexico, etc, etc. All of these nations across a very diverse dichotomy of political beliefs and systems believe that climate change is a very serious world issue. What makes the conservative faction of the United States in their pseudoscience fueled opposition to reality so special?

            You blame liberal policies and democrats for the state of Detroit as an example. Do you even bother to consider the fact that Detroit is a city which was responsible for so much manufacturing and other forms of industry and that the removal of such industries has obviously caused a decline. Conservative businessmen and CEOs who wanted to make a quick buck by profiteering off the cheap labor in third world countries chose to do so to enrich themselves instead of the American working class. The resulting economic decline when these factories and other institutions were shut down and moved overseas caused a very real decline in tax revenues resulting in city decline.

            As for Chicago and its gun laws there is much misinformation that abounds which is explained by the following: https://www.politifact.com/illinois/statements/2017/oct/03/sarah-huckabee-sanders/chicago-toughest-gun-control-claim-shot-full-holes/

    2. Bill Louis says:

      Quoting the article”
      “Although Episcopalians may be motivated by personal political beliefs, their church-based election efforts are necessarily nonpartisan. Those efforts also are grounded in church policies established by General Convention, which just last month passed additional resolutions calling Episcopalians to greater political engagement. That engagement has the continued support of the church’s Office of Government Relations in Washington, D.C.”

      The quote from the article is almost believable until it cites the Office of Government Relations. Anyone who has been to the OGR page can clearly see the positions of the Episcopal Church are far from non-partisan and clearly progressive left supporting. For example from the OGR page:

      Support climate change and the Paris climate agreement, immigration defend TPS, support Dreamers, immigrant resettlement efforts (subsidized by the federal government), increase foreign aid, ban “assault weapons”, common sense gun reform, more gun laws. criminal justice reform, support for Palestine and support just about every other left leaning policy can be found on the OGR page.

      Clearly the “get out the vote effort” is an appeal for democratic votes.

      1. Robbie Johnson says:

        It is no secret that the Liberal/LGBTQ contolled Episcopal Church is seeking the ouster of all Conservatives. If you are consevative and you want to remain in The Episcopal Church, keep your mouth shut!

      2. Matt Ouellette says:

        I don’t see most of those as Democratic positions, but moral ones. Combating climate change, protecting immigrants, supporting common sense gun limits, a more compassionate criminal justice system, and opposing illegal settlements in Palestine should be things both sides support. The fact that secular conservative culture has decided to ignore or outright oppose those things is an indictment of modern secular conservatism, not the Episcopal Church.

        1. Andrew Poland says:

          Give me a break. How you don’t choke spewing such hogwash is a mystery to me.

          1. Matt Ouellette says:

            Do you have any substantive criticism to the points I made?

        2. william dailey says:

          According to Democrats, and Matt, there is nothing more moral that the Pa Court gerrymandering districts to favor Democrats. Also, Hillary had the Dept of Justice, the FBI, the State Dept, do her dirty work. Anyone who has followed her career since law school has to conclude that she has been a nickel phone call from jail the entire time. One has to admit, however, that she has become very, very rich in the process.

          1. Matt Ouellette says:

            No, William, those districts were redrawn to undo Republican gerrymandering so that the districts were more fair. Undoing the gerrymandering will move congressional representation towards the Democrats, but only because it was rigged in favor of Republicans in the first place. I also don’t know why you felt the need to bring up Hillary Clinton when my points had nothing to do with her. Do I need to remind you that she is not the President, and thus has no political power right now? Why keep going after her?

          2. william dailey says:

            My comment on Hillary is in response to a later comment you made that there is no proof that Hillary committed nefarious acts. Actually the proof is there but the DOJ and Republicans don’t have the fortitude to deal directly with the numerous felonies committed.

          3. Matt Ouellette says:

            It’s more likely that they don’t have the dirt on her you claim they have on her (like those pointless Benghazi hearings that foun no criminal wrongdoing).

          4. Bill Louis says:

            Matt, I suppose you don’t consider bit bleaching her personal email server and smashing her several cellphones to render them unable to extract any data when under subpoena dirt. Then there’s the Russia uranium deal after which Bill got an ehorbanant speaking fee. But that’s not dirt either. The problem is the limp wristed establishment GOP and and a nearly non-existent DOJ that doesn’t want to disturb the status quo otherwise she would have been indicted long ago. But laws against corruption are only for us peons.

          5. Matt Ouellette says:

            The FBI investigated her emails and found nothing worth indicting over. I trust their judgment over the ill-will of those on the right who will hate Clinton no matter what she does. Also, there was no Uranium One “scandal,” as the conservative Weekly Standard noted:
            https://www.weeklystandard.com/holmes-lybrand/fact-check-did-hillary-clinton-personally-approve-the-uranium-one-deal
            However, this discussion has gone off-topic. I’m not interested in getting into a tit-for-tat over Hillary Clinton, unless you would also like me to bring up the wrong-doing and corruption committed by Trump and other Republican politicians.

          6. Bill Louis says:

            Sorry Matt but didn’t you go off topic? I guess you mean the Comey FBI. LOL Interesting though how now you want to get back on topic or attack Trump when Hillary’s crimes are mentioned. But I’m sure there is a MSM rag with an article somewhere that “proves’ she is innocent.

          7. Jordan Sakal says:

            Mr. Louis,

            Mr. Ouellette originally made comments to Mr. William Dailey. It was they who were having a discussion about Ms. Clinton and her political career and any misdeeds (real or imaginary.) The entire focus of their conversation was precisely that. The reason Mr. Ouellette stated that this topic had gone off-topic was that his original message was that the positions currently being taken up by TEC are not political ones rather ones of morality and judgement. It was Mr. Dailey and then you Mr. Louis who decided to inject ignoble attacks against Secretary Clinton involving baseless and disproved attacks upon her character. Please note also that Mr. Ouellette is using many forms of source media in order to back up his claims both “liberal” ones and “conservative” ones. He has been nothing but agreeable when working with you and others discussing these issues, perhaps you should show him more Christian kindness and practise your understanding of your fellow human being.

  7. mike geibel says:

    Voting is not the problem–the problem is that extremists control both parties. I scan the political horizon searching for that fiscally conservative, respect for the rule of law, socially liberal, state legislature or federal congress-person who knows when not to say something stupid, but I find slim pickings. I’m registered Republican, but please send me a moderate/centrist candidate from either party that I can be excited to vote for, rather than just having to choose between a socialist vs. a reactionary. Maybe we need a “none of the above-please restart” button.

    1. Holly LeCraw says:

      I think one important thing to remember is that the American idea of a “centrist” would be someone on the right anywhere else in the Western world. And the positions we think of as “leftist” are quite mainstream everywhere else–for instance, Medicate for All, whose equivalents in European countries have led to longer life expectancy, lower infant mortality rate, and less expensive healthcare over all than what we have here. I’d note too there are no actual socialists running in 2018. (Democratic socialists are a different animal.)

      All that said, it’s interesting that in deep-blue New England, where I live, the tradition of the fiscally conservative socially liberal old-fashioned Republican is alive and well!

      1. mike geibel says:

        The de-Christianization of Europe is widely recognized–most historical cathedrals survive as tourist attractions. Tax rates are above 50% with caps on income. If that is “centrist” then i want no part of it.

        I reside in the People’s Republic of California where 66% of the population are Democrats and Republican’s are disenfranchised by the “winner take all” electoral college in national elections–yet there are more Republicans here than in some states. Every aspect of our lives is subject to state regulations. The tax exempt status of Church property is being re-examined as a needed source of revenue. After governor-elect Gavin Newsome pushes through his doubling of state income taxes, there will be no “tithe” left for the Church. The recession predicted for 2019-2020 will probably start here and on the East Coast.

        1. Matt Ouellette says:

          Yes, there are higher taxes in those countries, but there are also higher standards of living for citizens. What’s wrong with want to emulate that?

          1. David A salmon says:

            Matt – California has the highest poverty rate in the US; who would want to emulate that? And that is after spending a trillion dollars on anti-poverty measures.. another progressive failed policy

            https://www.google.com/amp/www.latimes.com/opinion/op-ed/la-oe-jackson-california-poverty-20180114-story.html%3foutputType=amp

          2. Matt Ouellette says:

            I was specifically referring to European countries, which do typically have higher quality of life ratings than the United States:
            https://www.usnews.com/news/best-countries/quality-of-life-rankings
            Also, the statistics on California’s economy are more complicated than you make it out to be by just citing the poverty rate:
            https://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2018/01/california-is-doing-fine-thank-you-very-much/

  8. Hamilton Jones says:

    This could work against their far left radically liberal agenda. I know last November when a liberal bishop sent out a letter encouraging people to vote in the presidential election at least ten people decided to go ahead and vote. They voted for Donald Trump because they could not vote for a candidate who supported late term abortions on demand for gender preference, etc.

    1. Matt Ouellette says:

      I see, so we are now resorting to ad hominem attacks on political opponents on this comment section now. How very Christian of you. Please show me where Hillary Clinton told conservatives she would go after them if they didn’t change their views. That’s quite the extraordinary claim, but then again, you’ve made a lot of those on this site.

  9. Hamilton Jones says:

    This could work against their radical far left liberal agenda. I know last November when a liberal bishop sent a letter encouraging everyone to vote at least ten people decided to vote for Donald Trump. They said they just couldn’t vote for a candidate who supported late term abortions and abortions for sexual preference, etc.

  10. Terry Francis says:

    Can we cut to the chase? The left owns the Episcopal Church. Let me repeat that: The left OWNS this denomination lock stock and barrel! On this there should be no debate, no arguement. I mean my God it’s so blatantly obvious. For anyone to say with a straight face that this church is nonpartisan is beyond delusional. It is a denomination that eagerly jumps on the bandwagon of virtually every leftward-leaning cause. Its political activities make the old Moral Majority look tame by comparison! And sadly these activities make conservative members like myself feel more and more like outsiders. Even worse, it seems that many if not most progressives in TEC don’t particularly care. Their message seems to be get out and vote this November, unless of course you’re one of those ignorant intolerant hate-filled conservatives. In your case do us all a favor and please stay home!

    1. Matt Ouellette says:

      As I indicated in a previous comment, I don’t think the issues TEC supports should be considered as leftist, but moral. They should be things that both the left and right agree on. The fact that many conservatives in this country oppose them is an indictment of secular, American conservative culture, not the Episcopal Church. Also, I’d say any political activism by left-leaning people of faith has nothing on the “Moral Majority” and religious right, which has totally sold its soul to a political party and given away it’s values to support a President who represents the exact opposite of them. The “religious left” in this country is much more limited in its power compared to the religious right, as described in this article:
      https://fivethirtyeight.com/features/dont-bet-on-the-emergence-of-a-religious-left/
      Also, can you point out where any progressive here has told a conservative not to vote? I’m sorry but that’s not true. I’m sorry that you feel left out of this church, but being uncomfortable with certain church positions doesn’t mean the church is attacking you. The church is not going to back away from moral positions it has taken just because it challenges secular conservatism in this country (and I would also hope the same would be true for secular liberalism).

      1. Elizabeth Kaeton says:

        Thank you, Matthew. This is not about politics. It’s about the moral issues which Jesus named in the Beatitudes. Americans of all religious denominations but especially those who profess to follow The Way are bound – morally and ethically – to participate in our government. Voting is a sacred right. Could we please drop the venom – save it for the call in political talk shows – and stay focused on the importance of having your voice heard by exercising your right to vote and making sure others do as well? Thank you.

      2. Bill Louis says:

        Matt, One person’s moral issue is another’s oppression so a moral issue can also be political. No one is going to be able point out where TEC is telling conservatives not to vote even though most conservatives believe TEC wishes they don’t. That belief comes from the subtle inferences in this and other articles like the lines I pointed out in an earlier post. To claim TEC is not encouraging it members to vote for candidates that support its policies is naive. Just about every policy on the Office of Government Relations page is in support of Democratic or Socialist platform and the article specifically refers it readers to that page. However, if you read the article and don’t dig into where they are referring their readers one would believe the ENS is innocently encouraging members to vote when in reality they are hoping to fuel the “blue wave”

        1. Jordan Sakal says:

          Mr. Louis,

          Why is this so hard for you? Legitimately, I must question sir, why is this so hard for you? The Episcopal Church does something good in this case in the form of a “Get Out The Vote” type drive where they are encouraging people to register to vote, to engage in the very American act of voting and civil responsibility and you object, you raise objections from atop your mountain most high claiming that “TEC is telling us HOW to vote, by God and I won’t stand for it.”

          The thing is Mr. Louis, as Mr. Ouellette has told you quite plainly: The Episcopal Church is not advocating for political causes or particular candidates (for that would be a violation of their status as a tax-exempt organisation.) Mind you, there is a history of churches violating their non-profit status and advocating for political agendas or have you forgotten the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints doing so regarding Proposition 8 in California? Now because it is a “liberal” church doing so you object and beat your chest and whinge most pitifully. The Episcopal Church is advocating for Christians to follow the words of Our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, the policies being advocated for by the Church are not political ones, not “socialist” or “commie” or “liberal” rather they are positions of faith, of righteousness and morality.

          1. Bill Louis says:

            Jordan,
            Its not hard for me, you just don’t get it! Believe what ever you want. I’ve spent a lot of time looking and studying the ECUSA and I believe the leadership of TEC has become a politically motivated organization under the guise of the Christian church. Is there good done by TEC, of course. Does TEC worship God and believe Jesus Christ is our Savior, yes. But the church has managed to intertwine religion with politics. This article specifically references the Office of Government Relations and speaks of a Voters Toolkit. Did you ever ask yourself “why is TEC so interested in government relations and why is it pushing a get out the vote. Its more than civic duty. The church wants members to vote for candidates that will further its political beliefs but can’t say that outright or risk losing its tax status just like you mentioned. When TEC decides to abolish the Office of Government Relations perhaps I’ll change my opinion and stop beating my chest.

          2. Charlene R Cook says:

            Bill Louis – I could not agree with you more in your response. So true…………

          3. Jordan Sakal says:

            Mr. Louis,
            All churches have managed to entwine politics and religion. Again, look at the LDS with Prop 8, or the Catholics and abortion (or gay marriage or whole hosts of things) Let me ask this, and I welcome your research proving one way or another. Does TEC in any way shape or form advocate on any advertisement, banner, web ad, pop up, leaflet, newsletter, bulletin, skywriting, town crier using, or magazine publishing for ANY political candidate? Do we publish any literature saying “VOTE FOR CANDIDATE X, they’re a liberal who believes in XYZ and if you’re a good Christian you’ll believe that too and vote as we tell you to!” I would love to see proof of that if true. But I bet you won’t be able to find proof of such literature because it does not exist. The OGR exists as an interface between government and the Church (churches of all nature likely have one) the purpose of the OGR is to make it so the church can be aware of the action of the government. There is no nefarious political influencing going on here, I hope you know that.

          4. Bill Louis says:

            Jordan, Look at this page. Check out the “Action Alerts”. If you still can;t see it then you never will.

            https://www.episcopalchurch.org/office-government-relations

          5. Jordan Sakal says:

            Mr. Louis,

            I appreciate it ever so much that you were able to completely ignore my point. I asked you specifically whether or not the Episcopal Church in any way shape or form advocated specifically for any political candidates. I did not ask if the church advocates for moral positions because again as I mentioned previously the Mormons do it the Catholics do it all churches tend to advocate for their opinions politically based in roots of faith. Instead of actually addressing my question you chose to just post a quick link which did not prove your point and it leaves mine still waiting to be answered.

            Thank you

          6. Bill Louis says:

            Jordan,
            That was my answer. Read it and draw your own conclusions. Of course you won’t see a public advertisement. The church would put their tax exempt status in jeopardy. Hopefully this answers your question

          7. Jordan Sakal says:

            Mr. Louis,
            Once again you choose to ignore my point and instead attempt to construct a straw man out of another set of arguments that are not pertinent to the main thrust of my initial point. I asked specifically if the Episcopal Church in any way shape or form endorsed or forced voters or parishioners to vote for certain candidates or positions and the answer is of course as you noted no because that way they would not lose their tax-exempt status.

            Once again, the idea that the Episcopal Church takes up moral positions that are in opposition to yours does not make those church held positions invalid (Just because you don’t like them)

          8. Bill Louis says:

            Jordan,
            I don’t know what you want me to say. Would “Yes I agree with you,” do? I would be lying because I don’t agree with your view of the churches position on political issues or how they go about getting their members to vote as the church leadership would like them to vote. Apparently there are others that feel the same way I do. Just because you think the church’s stand is moral doesn’t mean everyone else sees it that way. I know you will never be convinced to see it the way I do so I’m done here. Believe whatever you want.

    2. charles b. allen II says:

      I don’t think TEC is going nearly far enough. I might suggest they start something like EpiscoPAC to further their leftist, progressive programs. Non-partisan? What do you suppose the ratio of Democrat to Republican registrations will be? TEC political agenda seems to be overshadowing its primary core evangelical mission. Time to take a reflective objective look at your priorities and re-assess. You might also consider allowing conservative Republican views in your thought processes every now and then.

  11. M.S. McDonald says:

    CO 47 is unacceptable. Let’s get all out to vote. The electoral college is needed unless you live in New York City and San Fran. Apparently, our Church wants open boarders along with enforcing
    only some of the laws. Freedom in the US is not free. Our church has quickly become a hard left PAC. When did actions like abortion and the death penalty become Christian??Church Office of Government Relations?Really? I thought we were apolitical? Wrong again.
    .

  12. Lary Youngsteadt says:

    Vote as if your life depends on it. It does.

    1. Andrew Poland says:

      A little dramatic this morning, huh?

  13. John Hobart says:

    I am of the opinion that Christians should stay out of politics.

    1. Elizabeth Kaeton says:

      Right. Just like Jesus did.

      1. John Hobart says:

        You are correct although I suspect you are trying to be sarcastic.

  14. Yaniris Urbaez says:

    As a practicing Christian, my decision on how to vote will be solely informed by Jesus’ teaching.

    1. Andrew Poland says:

      So what do you think Jesus’ views were concerning zoning regulations, internet regulations, administration of communications infrastructure, specific changes to congressional rules of order, and daylight savings/ time zones?

      1. The Rev. Dr. Linda M. Maloney says:

        Andrew Poland, an early and very conservative authority (namely, St. Augustine) wrote that in deciding how to act (or vote), one need only ask: does this action express love of God and neighbor? (If you’re in doubt about the meaning of “neighbor,” see the parable of the Good Samaritan and/or the Sermon on the Mount.) How do zoning regulations, net neutrality, etc. affect the neediest among us? It is absurd to ask in specifics how Jesus would have reacted to things that did not exist in his time. Our obligation is to apply the principles he emphasized to the questions of our own day, and act (vote) accordingly.

  15. Andrew Poland says:

    The current PB of our church and the most progressive corners of our church, in my personal observation, are very evangelical. So I think the political thing may be related more to evangelism than faith, as if the psychological state of an evangelical is such that they think they must imprint their faith and politics on EVERYONE. I think that’s sort of an interesting angle.

    I do not have an issue with the LGBTQ+ community being active in the church, or women, or people of color. Excluding anyone based on identity is sacrilegious and anathema to the true mission of the Church. That being said, TEC has done everything conceivable in its power to make conservative membership feel unwanted. Parishioners and clergy alike have taken to trying to make their political stance “God’s Stance”, and that is very gravely immoral. It’s sickening when right wing crazies claim to know the will of God, and it’s sickening when left wing crazies do the same thing. I’m a 29 year old who grew up in this Church. My mother feels unwelcome, my sisters don’t want to deal with it. I feel totally unwelcome, unwanted, prejudged, and disliked as a result of the political opportunism that the church has been conducting. I’m not a hardcore conservative or whack-o right winger, and you are losing people like me daily.

    So let’s can the innocent routine. The writing is on the wall, let’s just be honest about it.

    1. Jordan Sakal says:

      Andrew,

      Genuinely I’m curious, and I do not mean to pick a fight here or cause any discord. I want to reach out to you and ask why do you feel unwelcome or unwanted in the church? I know you mentioned not being a hardcore conservative or a whack-o right winger just as you are likely not a “leftist” in the same token. What is it that you are having difficulty adjusting to regarding church leadership? What political opportunism are you seeing that displeases you? Do you feel afraid that just because you disagree with a church position you will be shunned? (I am trying to understand so help me here.)

      How can I genuinely help you feel more welcome in the church? I want to help.

    2. Robbie Johnson says:

      In about twenty years there will be no conservatives in The Episcopal Church. The logo of The Episcopal Church will be the Rainbow flag.

  16. The Rev. Dr. Linda M. Maloney says:

    In 2006 our Deanery asked for and received diocesan and parish funding to hold a series of public forums on the issues in the then-current election campaign. We held four sessions, one at each of four parishes in our Deanery. The topics depended in part on the speakers we were able to secure; “below the belt” issues were off the table. The subjects included poverty and disease (foreign and domestic) and environmental issues. We (I, as the Dean) sent letters to all candidates of all parties, national, state, and local, inviting them to attend the forums. Those who attended were given five minutes each after the talk and question period to say how they would use the office they were seeking to address the issue of the evening. (Example: one state senator pledged to work on raising minimum wages for tipped employees — and he did.) Twelve years later people are still talking about how great those forums were. (One candidate enthused to my senior warden about how much she had enjoyed participating — although in fact, she didn’t!) I hope we may be able to repeat the experience this fall, because I think they modeled very well how churches can combat voter ignorance and encourage participation while remaining entirely nonpartisan.

  17. The Rev. Dr. Linda M. Maloney says:

    There seems to be a disconnect on the “conservative” side about the faith statements and policies of the Episcopal Church. How do you think those happen? Our triennial General Convention has just completed its task of prayerfully considering and voting on a variety of issues. Deputies to General Convention are democratically elected in their dioceses (and the House of Bishops is also made up of persons elected to office). It’s a very American system, originally modeled on the new Constitution. If you are unhappy with the church’s positions, how do you suggest we should act? If we are to do as St. Augustine recommends, then there’s no way we can avoid taking positions on public issues. We never got around to it regarding slavery, and I don’t think we want to behave that way in future.

    1. John Hobart says:

      I would suggest that we stay out of politics. Secular government depends on force for its power. Christianity rejects the use of force. Authentic Christianity relies on conversion rather than coercion and is incompatible with politics.

    2. mike geibel says:

      Dear Rev. Maloney: I don’t think the Convention represented the political makeup of the membership as a whole. Few if any conservative clergy were present, and the House of Deputies is 100% liberal progressive.

      I didn’t vote for Trump, but the Trump-bashing, Republican-hating, name-calling, negative dooms-day predictors within the TEC leadership is ugly. The recent “Reclaiming Jesus” proclamation stated that the Tax Reform Bill was immoral and that ‘America First’ is heresy. The TEC had previously adopted a similar proclamation stating that immigration laws are “reprehensibly racist.” There are many members who rightfully believe that the proper role of the federal government is to protect the needs of American citizens first. There are many members who honestly believe that we need more taxpayers than we need more taxes, and that tax reform can stimulate jobs—in the short term that seems to be working. There are many members who agree that separating children from parents was wrong, but who believe that “compassion for the sojourner” is not a rational or survivable basis for a nation’s immigration policy. It is not “racist” to expect the executive branch to enforce our immigration laws and to demand that Congress works together to fix what is unfair. The “Reclaiming Jesus” proclamation labeled such political beliefs as immoral, heresy and racist, which is the same thing as calling the members who support these policies as immoral heretics and racists.

      Bishop Curry found a non-political, winning message—the power of Love. But the “hot topics” were all about trying to demonize Israel and to fix the world and our pronoun choices. Sadly, the message is already being adulterated by changing it into a political slogan: “Love—and justice.” Claiming that the most of the Resolutions were not political does not mean they were not politically motivated. Painting a crocodile purple does not mean it’s not a crocodile.

      1. Matt Ouellette says:

        I personally think Trump’s immoral policies and behaviors are uglier than the criticism he receives from members of this church and others in society.

        1. mike geibel says:

          Trump is a entrepreneur turned politician. An “he’s uglier” is not the kind of comparison that’s works for the Church. Trump brings the criticism on himself, but there is so much over-the-top bashing by the national media and church that people have stopped listening and many members are turned off and leaving. As stated by a Bishop in Tennessee, be “humble and smart. Simply labeling everything he does as immoral and resorting to name-calling is polarizing and counterproductive. Legitimate challenge does not have to rely upon insults.

          1. Matt Ouellette says:

            I’m sorry, but I don’t see how the media is being over the top with its criticism of Trump’s policies and behavior. Just because the mainstream press does not treat Trump with kid gloves like Fox News doesn’t mean they are being unfair in their criticisms. As you yourself just said, he brings his criticisms onto himself.

        2. charles b. allen II says:

          Matt: how do you and the TEC feel about our Presidents stance on taking a knee during our National Anthem? I’ll bet you are in the minority of public opinion on this issue as well as others.

          1. Matt Ouellette says:

            I believe that the First Amendment of our Constitution allows people to express themselves however they want during the National Anthem (although some expressions are not prudent). Also, the majority of Americans don’t seem to support Trump’s obsession over this issue:
            https://nypost.com/2018/06/07/most-voters-are-fine-with-nfl-players-anthem-kneeling-poll/

          2. charles b. allen says:

            Matt: even the left leaning, Trump hating Washington Post poll has more than 50% in favor of absolutely standing. As an aside Francis Scott Key was a devout Episcopalian.

    3. John Hobart says:

      At the end of the day, political Christianity is simply idolatry. I don’t think it matters much whether you worship a golden donkey or a golden elephant; those are both idols. We need to give it a rest.

      1. Matt Ouellette says:

        An completely apolitical Christianity was what gave us an Episcopal Church in the Civil War period that was too timid to take a definitive stance on slavery. Unfortunately, sometimes the church needs to speak out against injustice committed by those in power in society. That doesn’t mean we need to endorse a political party or ideology over others, but that we stand up for our moral principles.

        1. John Hobart says:

          During the last election cycle, the Episcopal Church produced a document that ran to nearly 50 pages (that is considerably more than “sometimes”) of political opinions that all aligned with progressive democratic political ideology. You will never convince me that the one instance, over 150 years ago, in which the church should have (but didn’t) endorse the Republican position is an adequate defense against the charge of idolatry.

          https://cqrcengage.com/episcopal/file/PocEWf9Lpbg/OGR%20Policy%20for%20Action%202016.pdf

          1. Matt Ouellette says:

            But that historical instance is an example of why Christianity should not be completely apolitical as you argued it should. Also, as I’ve been trying to say elsewhere on this comment section, I think many of the positions of TEC should not be seen as “progressive democratic” stances, but moral ones that should be agreed upon by both sides. It’s not the fault of TEC that secular American conservatism opposes action on climate change, ignores the suffering of immigrants, opposes common sense gun laws, etc. like mainstream conservatism in the rest of the world. TEC supporting moral positions like those are not idolatry.

          2. John Hobart says:

            All you have said is that you think everybody should agree with you. Everyone else thinks that everybody should agree with them. The fact is they don’t because different people see things differently and they are entitled to their own opinions. You are not morally superior to other people because they don’t share your opinions. In fact, the intolerance of the opinions of others is the definition of bigotry. If you have a political opinion, write to your congressman. If I have a political opinion, I will write to mine. If the Episcopal Church only took a position in rare cases like slavery (when they didn’t take a position) I might agree that their behavior is appropriate. But the document to which I posted the link demonstrates that the Episcopal Church largely aspires to be the drunk at the end of the bar who won’t shut up about his politics. And when people become so consumed with their political opinions that they think they “should” be my religion, I think they have crossed the line into idolatry.

          3. Matt Ouellette says:

            No, I don’t think everyone has to agree with me. I’m not perfect. What I am saying is that there are certain moral issues that we should not compromise on as a church, even if it makes conservatives or liberals uncomfortable. This is not intolerance, but is rather standing by one’s principles. So where do you draw the line? Would you not agree, for example, that child separation is wrong, given that almost all churches (including conservative ones like the Catholic Church and Southern Baptist) have condemned that policy? What about actions on climate change, which the Catholic Church also supports? I personally do not agree with drawing the line at rare cases.

          4. John Hobart says:

            All you are really saying is that you think the church should stand by your principles and to heck with anyone who doesn’t agree with your opinions. What if the conservatives gained a narrow majority and the Episcopal Church began to stand by principles with which you disagreed and the progressives were marginalized? I know next to nothing about the SBC, but I know a lot of Catholics and many of them disagree with the Pope. I do not want any religious leader pretending to speak on my behalf. Fortunately, we live in a representative democracy and we can all express our opinions to our elected representatives (except for the Pope who isn’t an American citizen so his opinion doesn’t count). That is why I draw the line at the Episcopal Church staying out of politics. Even with your celebrated example of slavery, the institution was abolished without any input from the Episcopal Church.

          5. Matt Ouellette says:

            I’m fine with disagreements up to a point, but there are certain issues that we should not compromise on, and I don’t care if it offends secular American conservative or liberal factions. Sure, slavery was solved without TEC, but it is an indictment on its moral judgement that it did not speak out in one voice on the issue, and we should avoid making that mistake again. I’m sorry, but advocating that the Church should be removed from worldly affairs sounds a lot like the gnostic position of abandoning the world as doomed and wicked.

      2. John Hobart says:

        Maybe you should focus on understanding and loving others rather than insisting that after “a point” they need to agree with you and insisting that the Church endorse your opinions. Your lack of concern for who you offend comes off as simply lack of concern for those with whom you disagree.

        1. Matt Ouellette says:

          I never said we shouldn’t love others we disagree with. I believe in Jesus’ command to love our enemies (and I don’t necessarily think those I disagree with are my enemies). However, that doesn’t mean we should compromise our moral principles. Standing up for our beliefs isn’t unloving.

        2. Jordan Sakal says:

          Mr. Hobart,

          As shown in Mr. Ouellette’s previous comments, he has been nothing but kind, patient and considerate with regards to the commenters here on this board. He is correct in saying that the Church shares many of the same positions which he endorses. He is not demanding that the church do such, the fact of the matter is that the church and the leadership is enlightened to the issues of the day and has responded to them in a Christian way.

          1. John Hobart says:

            His arguments are not burnished by your endorsement.

          2. Jordan Sakal says:

            Mr. Hobart,

            Come now, surely you can make a better argument than that. Surely, you can refute what I’m saying and not just plug your ears and pretend that my point does not stand true.

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