By Bishop Peggy A. Johnson
I am happy to announce that I completed my mail-in ballot and have officially voted in the fall 2020 election. Whatever your political affiliation, I urge you to be sure to vote.
“The strength of a political system depends upon the full and willing participation of its citizens,” according to the United Methodist Social Principles (para. 164 in the 2016 Book of Discipline).I encourage you to participate in the following important ways:
V – stands for “volunteer.” Volunteer to help a neighbor, friend or family member cast their vote by driving or accompanying them to the polling place or helping them to cast their ballot by mail.
O – stands for “open mind.” Study the candidates’ positions and platforms to determine your choices. Have open and civil conversations with people regarding some of the important issues that are a part of this election season.
T – stands for “teach.” Teach people about the “strong ethical influence” (Social Principles) the church needs to exercise in order to insure a fair election process. Identify and challenge policies and practices used to limit or suppress voter participation—such as, closing and limiting the number of polling places, stoking confusion about voting by mail, locating unauthorized ballot drop-off boxes in communities, etc. In our country’s long history, there have been overt attempts to exclude people from voting, especially among people of color, women, college students and the poor. The “people called Methodists” believe that all are of sacred worth and have a right to a legitimate place in the election process in a free democracy.
E – stands for “engage in prayer.” No matter the outcome of this election, there is much we as citizens of this country can do together to promote the welfare of all. Pray for God’s Spirit to move among us as a nation during this time to inspire with peace, transparency and civility. There should be no place for mud-slinging and mean-spirited rhetoric and actions.
Many United Methodist bishops, including myself, signed onto a letter, titled “A Crisis of Faith and Democracy,” which further describes our civic duties as followers of Jesus Christ. May God be with us as we journey toward Election Day 2020 and beyond.