As if this year hasn’t been fun enough, we are now less than three weeks from Election Day, with the presidency and other offices on the line.
So how should a well-meaning person of faith prepare for this event?
First, to be clear: as a Catholic clergyman, it is not my job to tell you who to vote for, despite those who believe the Catholic Church is a branch of the Republican Party. It ain’t so.
I believe it is my job, along with other ministers, to help your discernment between candidates.
What do I mean by that? As a society, for too long we have been Democrat or Republican voters (primarily) who just happened to be people of faith. Whether realized or not, our party affiliation drew more attention than our Christian affiliation.
Let’s approach this election as Christians first and foremost, examining our choices through a lens of faith to determine which candidate would uphold standards of Christian behavior and help build a world God would be pleased with.
It takes a lot of work for us to do this. A lot of research is needed, and it won’t get done by watching Fox News or CNN. Both stations push political ideology from which the Christian voter should rise above.
Above all, trying to decide who to support takes a great deal of prayer, because sometimes the choice simply isn’t easy to make, and we may have to decide between the lesser of two evils. In such times, a great weapon to fall back on is a well-developed Christian conscience.
In their document “Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship,” the United States Catholic Bishops write:
“Conscience is not something that allows us to justify doing whatever we want, nor is it a mere “feeling” about what we should or should not do. Rather, conscience is the voice of God resounding in the human heart, revealing the truth to us and calling us to do what is good while shunning what is evil.”
Ultimately, it’s that simple, isn’t it? To do what is good. If we take the necessary time for prayer and meditation, consult Holy Scripture, and seek wise Christian counsel, our conscience, the voice of God within all of us, will lead us to the best choice.
One more point: deciding not to vote because no candidate is appealing is understandable, but not a good option. Our voices of faith are desperately needed in political life, and we must not run from our duty to participate. In doing so, we push back against those who insist that religion has no place in public life.
By fulfilling our civic responsibility, we help create the sort of world we should want to leave for our children and grandchildren. Let us be channels of God’s peace and love, and be ready to vote.
Michael Clapp is deacon at St. Joseph Catholic Church in Mayfield.