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Open the session by inviting all participants to pray together the prayer that Jesus taught, contemplating carefully the words they are praying. Follow the prayer with 60 seconds of silence.
Read the “Christian Principles in an Election Year.” While all the principles are important, ask the group to prioritize these issues, listing them from most critical to less critical.
Examine the following biblical texts. You may want to have two or three people read and discuss each text rather than having the entire group read all the texts.
For each passage consider these questions: What words particularly stand out as you think about the 10 “Christian Principles in an Election Year?” What is the guiding gospel principle in this text? What does the text have to say about your Christian responsibility toward your neighbor and/or the earth? What additional biblically based principles would you include on this list that speak to the issues identified in the 10 principles?
Discuss ways to find out a candidate’s record/platform on the issues identified in the 10 principles: 1. war/conflict; 2. urban decay; 3. foreign policy; 4. economic justice; 5. racial justice; 6. environmental justice; 7. immigration; 8. health care; 9. criminal justice; and 10. public education and children's services. Possibilities include looking on the candidates’ Web sites or calling their campaign headquarters. You can write the candidates about specific concerns and expect a response from their offices. This contact can be made online. It is important that Christians educate themselves about the issues and the candidates’ views.
If a candidate is an incumbent seeking re-election, review his/her voting record. If the candidate is seeking a first term, what has he/she said about each of these 10 issues?
As you study each candidate's record or platform, ask these questions with regard to each of the 10 issues and reflect on them in light of your study of the above biblical passages.
Who benefits the most from each position taken by the candidate?
Who bears the cost of this position?
What are the immediate implications of this position?
What are the long-term implications of this position?
What must be given up or sacrificed to pursue this position?
To conclude the session have the participants close their eyes and sit quietly. Then ask, "O God, what is your yearning for us in this important election year?" Allow time for silent reflection, and then invite those who wish to respond aloud to do so. End this time with a prayer of thanksgiving for God's presence and guidance in our lives as we seek to be faithful Christian disciples.
This study guide was developed by constituent leadership and staff of the National Council of Churches USA.
For more information, visit www.councilofchurches.org, or call 202-544-2350, or write National Council of Churches USA, Attn: Justice and Advocacy Commission, 110 Maryland Ave. N.E., Washington, DC 20002
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