Thursday, October 16, 2008

Bishop's Statement on Presidential Election

This is a fine, solid expression of a Lutheran understanding of civic engagement and political discourse.

October 16, 2008

Pastoral letter to the ELCA on the U.S. Presidential Election

In the Lutheran community of faith we value both public and private discourse, because we believe God works in vital and redemptive ways with human words. In the closing weeks of a presidential campaign, we share with our neighbors of all faiths high expectation for our public discourse. The words uttered by those seeking office and those voting have power, not only to provide the substance necessary for good decision making, but also to bring hope.

Let us maintain a level of discourse worthy of this important moment in our nation’s history and the pressing issues demanding our attention. Let us focus on the vital issues facing our nation and the world. The ELCA’s social statement, "The Church in Society: A Lutheran Perspective," calls this church to "promote sound, critical, and creative citizenship and public service" and encourages us to join in public deliberations. As we are called also "to contribute toward the upbuilding of the common good," we can express the expectation that the candidates call for an end to personal attacks, and focus on the issues and things that matter to all of us.

With the current financial crisis sweeping the United States and the world, it is too easy to forget those who are most vulnerable, people who live in poverty here at home and abroad. They deserve our attention too, as we prepare to determine this nation’s direction for the next four years. Instead of personal attacks, I appeal to the McCain and Obama campaigns and related message groups to bear in mind and recall for all of us the situations of our sisters and brothers who will suffer the most from our current economic turmoil.

Finally, I call on all of us eligible to vote to exercise faithful civic engagement on November 4. Lutherans acknowledge the instrumental role of government in society, and participation in the electoral process is an example of our affirmation of baptism to "serve all people, following the example of our Lord Jesus" and "to strive for justice and peace in all the earth."

The Rev. Mark S. Hanson
Presiding Bishop
Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

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