Subject: NCC Special Edition: Debate Day, Election Resources

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Editor's note: this is a sampling of resources we're making available to our readers.  It is not meant to be a comprehensive list, but rather a selection to help you think about the election from various perspectives. Please check future editions of our weekly newsletter for more resources.

Get Out And Vote!

Every eligible voter must be given an opportunity to exercise his/her rights for the upcoming November 8th election. The President and Vice President of the United States will be elected. One-third of the US Senate will be elected. The entire US House of Representatives will be elected. Local, county and regional officials will be elected. Court judges will be elected. State and Local elected officials, ballot measures and propositions will impact homelessness, wage equity, mass incarceration, transportation, public education, water quality, and much more.

“For these reasons and the very fact that the Right to Vote is a basic promise in the United States of America, we sound the alert - there are just 63 days til Election Day and an even shorter period to be registered,” declares AME Social Action Commission Chair, Bishop Frank M. Reid, III. “The AME Church is fully committed to voter registration, education and mobilization. In the days that remain, we encourage our membership to be fully engaged and allow their voices to be heard up and down the ballot!” continued Senior Bishop McKinley Young.

We celebrate YOU for insuring that the voices of the church for not being SILENT. Mark your calendar, organize a listening party, and sign up for the Strategy Calls at WWW.AMEV-ALERT.ORG . Invite everyone you know with emails, texts, website, Facebook, and tweets. Every Saturday in October at 1:00 pm (EDT); 12 noon (CDT); 11:00 am (MDT); 10:00 am (PDT). Remain encouraged and keep it moving forward!.

Get Active in the Elections

Politics is often taken to be a dirty word, but political processes are simply the way communities organize their common life. For people of faith, public policy is never merely politics. It is a way of living out the commandment to love our neighbor as ourselves.

It is fitting for local congregations and church structures across the country to develop nonpartisan programs to help the faith community reflect upon the political order. The Our Faith Our Vote Campaign is designed to help you discover the ways in which you, as an individual and as a congregation, can get involved in the political process.

Our country is in crisis in many ways. It is time for well minded, engaged and faithful people to speak out and get involved in the political process. Let's go public with our faith! We'll show you how!

Circle of Protection Candidate Videos

Over 100 Christian leaders have asked each presidential candidate, “What would you do as president to offer help and opportunity to hungry and poor people in the United States and around the world?” These videos, produced by the campaigns, are their response. The Circle of Protection presents them without comment or endorsement. We encourage church, college and seminary groups to view and discuss the videos. A study guide is available.


Episcopalians can live out our call to care for our neighbors as ourselves by engaging in the public square. This November 8, our nation will head to the polls to decide a number of important elections, and there are many opportunities for Episcopalians to engage in this electoral process. Official Episcopal policy recognizes voting and political participation as acts of Christian stewardship, calling upon congregations to engage in conversation on public policy issues, to develop voter registration and issue education campaigns, and to advocate for protection of voting rights.

A faithful commitment to political participation aligns with our Baptismal Covenant’s promise to “strive for justice and peace and respect the dignity of every human being.” There are several ways you and your congregation can answer the call to faithfully engage in the electoral process. This page is dedicated to assisting you in navigating some of the important issues in this election season such as addressing poverty, protecting voting rights, and engaging in civil discourse.

ELCAvotes 2016 Civic Participation and Voter Education Guide

The ELCA is a church called by Jesus Christ to be a public witness to the love of God poured out for all. In our ELCA social statement, “The Church in Society: A Lutheran Perspective,” we affirm the importance of participation of all people in our society, including people of faith. This document, which guides our public speech and ethical actions, commits us to “work with and on behalf of the poor, the powerless, and those who suffer, using [this church’s] power and influence with political and economic decision-making bodies to develop and advocate policies that seek to advance justice, peace and the care of creation.”

When we pray to God to give us our daily bread, Luther reminds us this includes “everything that pertains to the regulation of our domestic and our civil or political affairs.” This church understands government as a means through which God works to preserve creation and build a more peaceful and just social order in a broken world. Christians are called to be stewards of our common life through serving as faithful and active citizens.

Bread's "I Vote to End Hunger" Campaign

We are moved by God’s grace in Jesus Christ to work for justice for people who are hungry in our country and around the world. We believe that ending hunger by 2030 is a goal within reach, and we are taking action because our children, our neighbors — real people — are suffering. We want candidates to know that we will vote to end hunger. I Vote to End Hunger is our campaign to put the issues of hunger and poverty on the agenda in the congressional and presidential elections.

Voting is Christian stewardship. Our Christian faith compels us to elect wise leaders who will uphold justice and the common good, especially for people who are poor and needy (Psalm 72:12-14). The Bible underscores the need for good governance and for leaders who govern impartially (Leviticus 19:15; James 2:2-4). Churches, communities, and government working together have the power to end hunger. This November, elect leaders who will make ending hunger a priority.

New PC(USA) resource aimed at ending voter suppression available for download

At the direction of the 221st General Assembly (2014) the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) Office of Public Witness created a discussion and study guide titled, We Shall Not Be Moved – Advocacy in the New Age of Voter Suppression. The document, released today, provides individuals, church groups or classes, and pastors a resource to explore the history and context of systemic patterns of voter suppression in the U.S. It draws on U.S. history, Presbyterian social witness policies, Scripture, and other resources to provide a template for reflection and action by focusing on the recognition that minority groups do not always enjoy full voting rights in our society.

In 2013, the Supreme Court ruled that a coverage formula in the original, historic 1965 Voting Rights Act was unconstitutional because it was outdated. This provision required jurisdictions that had a history of voter suppression—those that primarily restricted the voting rights of African Americans—submit new or proposed voting laws to the federal government for review. By striking down that provision as unconstitutional, the court suspended the Feds’ ability to protect minority voting rights.

Lesser of Two Evils, Third Party, or Not Vote?

Many evangelicals are asking what to do if they do not like either of the major party presidential candidates. In this case, evangelical leaders said they would vote for the candidate they dislike the least (60 percent), vote for a third party candidate (28 percent), or not vote for that office (12 percent), according to the June Evangelical Leaders Survey.

Leith Anderson, president of the National Association of Evangelicals, said, “My FAQs in 2016 include: ‘Who are you going to vote for?’ (I never tell), ‘Who should I vote for?’ (I’ll let you decide), and ‘Is it okay if I don’t vote?’ (Probably not. At least vote for as many offices as you choose, but don’t skip the voting booth completely).”

Evangelical leaders see voting as part of their Christian and civic duty. Nicole Baker Fulgham, president of The Expectations Project, a faith-based education advocacy organization, said, “As a woman of color, too many people fought and died for me to have the right to vote. I don’t take it lightly and would be very hard pressed to abdicate that right. Even if I wasn’t super happy with either choice, I’d feel compelled to pick the one I dislike least. I also think, as a Christian, my vote does matter, and it’s part of my responsibility to help decide our leaders.”

How Clergy & Congregations can Respond to the 2016 Election

FACT: This election campaign raises some of the most profound spiritual issues in our history.

WORRY: Some clergy and some congregational lay leaders worry about what a tax-exempt group (501c3) can and can’t do, both legally and to preserve comradeship among the members.

FACT: only actual endorsement or opposition to a specific candidate or party is totally forbidden to a 501c3. These are ten suggestions for legitimate actions. 
  • Getting out the vote in November will be very important, and is totally legal for synagogue, church, or mosque to sponsor. That could be strengthened by asking your congregation’s spiritual leader to give sermons – e.g. on Rosh Hashanah/ Yom Kippur -- or earlier, depending on the registration deadlines in your own state -- urging congregants to register, and to urge their children of voting age to register.
  • To help make voter registration communal, not competitive, you might arrange a festive congregational potluck where the congregation provides, collects, and submits voter-registration forms, along with songs and food.
  • Congregants & the congregation as a whole can also without violating 501c3 rules take a vigorous hand in voter turn-out on Election Day, preparing ahead of time. For instance, you can ask people to pledge to vote, set up a schedule for reminding people to vote, offer rides to voting booths, etc. Make clear this goes no matter whom people expect to vote for.
Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship

The Catholic bishops of the United States are pleased to offer once again to the Catholic faithful Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship, our teaching document on the political responsibility of Catholics. This statement represents our guidance for Catholics in the exercise of their rights and duties as participants in our democracy. We urge our pastors, lay and religious faithful, and all people of good will to use this statement to help form their consciences; to teach those entrusted to their care; to contribute to civil and respectful public dialogue; and to shape political choices in the coming election in light of Catholic teaching.

The statement lifts up our dual heritage as both faithful Catholics and American citizens with rights and duties as participants in the civil order. First and foremost, however, we remember that we relate to the civil order as citizens of the heavenly Kingdom, whose reign is not yet fully realized on earth but demands our unqualified allegiance. It is as citizens faithful to the Lord Jesus that we contribute most effectively to the civil order.

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