“I’m so tired of all the bickering. I’m just sick of it! I just want it to stop.” That’s what a dear lady said to me this past Sunday as she chatted with me after I spoke in her church. She was, of course, referring to the recalls.
Here’s what I told her: “I completely understand. However, our ‘getting sick of it’ and getting angry to the point of doing nothing doesn’t change the reality of what we are facing. What can help change the reality is our getting involved. At a minimum, we have to vote and vote our Christian values.” She looked at me, silent for a moment, and then said, “You’re right. I hadn’t thought about that. I’m so tired of it all, I just wasn’t going to vote, but I now realize I have to vote.”
I think this lady expressed what many of us are experiencing right now. But I cannot state strongly enough that now is not the time to sit on the sidelines angry. Now is the time to stand strong and make a difference.
That said, here’s fair warning: It’s now one month until Wisconsin’s unprecedented general recall elections on Tuesday, June 5. I am deeply concerned about these elections and what they mean for the future of our state and our nation. Therefore, I am going to devote the next four commentaries to these elections, with each week taking a different emphasis.
We’re starting this week with the role of churches and pastors. Simply put, it is extremely important that Wisconsin’s churches and pastors take a few actions that are perfectly legal and would be very helpful in educating and encouraging their people as we move toward the election.
First, pastors and church leaders need to realize that the outcome of any election affects them. Depending on who wins the recall elections could mean a real difference in how much religious freedom we have in this states, how clergy are treated under the law, what kinds of fees churches are required to pay, and more. It could also make a difference in how much money the church brings in through its families. Tough economic times for families mean tough economic times for churches, as giving drops because of reduced family incomes or lost jobs. To think that churches are not affected by elections is very short-sighted.
Second, pastors and church leaders should provide educational voter information to their members and friends so that they know who the candidates are and the positions of the candidates on important, relevant issues. Wisconsin Family Council has long provided such voter information publications to churches in this state and will be doing so again for the June 5 recall election. Such publications are non-partisan, unbiased, and are strictly educational. They don’t favor one candidate over another and they don’t tell people who they should vote for. They present information so that the reader can make up his or her own mind and then go cast a knowledgeable and responsible vote.
Beyond just putting such educational voter information on a literature table, pastors should make a point of letting people know it’s available, where it’s available and encourage people to pick up a copy. Or, better yet, put the information in bulletins as inserts. This is all perfectly legal and more importantly is a part of a church ministering to its people and helping them prepare to exercise their civic duty.
Lastly, pastors and church leaders should make pointed “go vote” announcements from the pulpit, especially the Sunday before the election. Pointed pastoral reminders of our civic responsibility as Christians go a long way in motivating people to take time to vote. Encouraging people to vote their Christian values is also appropriate and entirely legal. Our values matter—greatly—and those values need to be reflected in the votes we cast.
The above is not political—not in any way. It is about churches, pastors and general church leadership being involved with their government, the government God has ordained for this state and this country. It’s about the spiritual authorities in our lives appropriately encouraging us and helping us to be salt and light in every area of our lives, even in these frustrating recall elections.
If Wisconsin Family Council can help you with information or voter education material as we approach the June 5 recall elections, call us at 888-378-7395. We stand ready to do everything we can to help churches and pastors help their people make a real difference, to turn anger and frustration into purposeful action.