As people of faith we are called to cast our ballots

This article first appeared in the August 17th, 2021 edition of the Marathon Mercury.

It is official, as of Sunday, August 15th we are headed towards a federal election on September 20th. Some have already expressed feelings of ‘election exhaustion’ as predictions took over the media these past few weeks. Now we have merely a month to go before we cast our ballots.

It has been argued that as a religious figure ministers should stay out of politics. Some point to Jesus’ comment of “give unto Caesar what is Caesar’s” as a way of saying Christians should stay apolitical. But, to me, the Galilean tradesman and spiritual leader I follow was deeply political. He spoke for corporate responsibility, of care for the vulnerable, of the need for those with more to carry more responsibility. That said, I’m not writing this piece to tell you how to vote, but to encourage you to vote. That is to say, as people of faith we must carry out this basic civic responsibility.

An election during a pandemic is a critical time to make our voices heard, to speak for justice and the common good. We have an opportunity to tell our political leaders what’s important to us and what kind of a job we think they’re doing. We can do this not just by voting but by writing letters and emails, submitting questions at town halls and debates, by engaging in conversation with candidates and their supporters when they come to our doors.

We have an opportunity to continue to ask that our government reckon with the legacy of Residential Schools, that they provide equal access to good quality health care for all residents. In our riding, we can talk about affordable housing, transportation and environmental concerns. We can point out that far too many First Nations communities in Thunder Bay-Superior North still do not have access to clean drinking water despite promises to remedy this injustice.

For those who use the way of Jesus as their guide, this is another opportunity to dig deeper in our faith and find ways we can reflect his teachings in our living. We can also have wonderful conversations with our neighbours of different faiths, finding common ground between their principles and our own. Love of neighbour, hospitality to the outsider, care for the vulnerable, these principles are found in common across faiths. We also have the opportunity to choose whether they are the guiding principles of our government, of our elected leaders. This is a time for us to question, reflect with, and choose to support individuals we feel best represent these common principles.

I understand if you’re already feeling a little election weary. Since it has been a weary past year and a half. But I pray you can see the hope in our midst. That our small part, especially when multiplied by our neighbours, can be enough to change our community for the better.

In persistent hope, Pastor Selina.

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