“What is the most important action to take in the near future?” That was a question that was raised as the recent Healthy Planet = Healthy People campaign of the Corvallis Climate Action Alliance concluded its Week of Action.
The answer was a resounding, “VOTE!”.
Voting is a natural extension of the principles and values among the many faith organizations. Islamic Relief USA urges to Go Vote. The United Church of Christ recognizes Our Faith, Our Vote. Unitarian Universalists strive to UU the Vote. Eleven Buddhists leaders encourage a Mindful Vote. In the words of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, “Democracy is strongest when everyone participates — and it suffers when citizens are shut out from the democratic process or choose not to engage."
Rather than focusing on a single issue, reflect on the broad range of values held by your faith tradition, consider how these values translate into political issues, determine which candidate’s alignment would best serve these issues, and then affirm those candidates by voting. Deuteronomy 1:13 advises “Choose for each of your tribes individuals who are wise, discerning, and reputable, to be your leaders.”
Your values derive from religious imperatives for healing the world, care for the future, and care for our neighbors. We are to look out for the vulnerable among us, including the destitute, the ill, the disabled, the young, and the aged. Here are three areas that people of faith may consider when examining candidates.
Climate change is a leading issue not only because of the magnification of extreme weather events, but also because it intersects issues of vulnerable communities, wildfires, human migration, food production, health and disease, and environmental pollution. Responding to the worsening levels of global warming gases emissions is essential to caring for the world and loving our neighbors. Faith calls upon our responsibilities for the Earth and to others whose interdependence is embodied in the Healthy Planet = Healthy People theme.
Charity provides lifeline goods and services for those in difficult situations. But solutions to these situations must be couched in justice. "Justice is not always an open and shut case — sometimes we have to work for it. If you want peace, work for justice," said Pope Paul VI. Our treatment of people of color, immigrants, wage workers, and gender identity individuals needs to reflect how we see God in each other. Faith moves us to work for reforms in racial and criminal justice issues so that they are resolved with restorative justice, fairness, and investment in community needs.
Fostering the common good are values people of faith desire for their leaders. The global issues of health care, COVID-19, clean energy, armaments, and international conflicts need to be handled with diplomacy, peacemaking, and a willingness to receive wise counsel. Proverbs 13:10 says “By insolence comes nothing but strife, but with those who take advice is wisdom.”
Some faith groups are hesitant to offer advice on issues for examining candidates. That should not deter people of faith from applying their religious values. Voting is a decision-making process that very strongly affects lives in the present and future world.
Please vote in this critical election to put your faith values into action!
More issue areas to reflect upon may be found in Democracy, Values & the 2020 Election: A Reflection Guide for Faith Communities, https://faithclimatejusticevoter.org/voter-guide, and the CCAA website, http://corvallisclimateactionalliance.org.
Brian Lee leads the Corvallis Interfaith Climate Justice Committee, is the architect of the Corvallis Carbon Offset Fund, and maintains a toxicology consultancy.