The Common Good

More Than 1,000 Pastors Sign Faith Pledge for 2012 Elections

Date: February 9, 2012

 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

February8, 2012

CONTACTS:

Carrie Adams: (202) 745-4654; cadams@sojo.net

Jack Palmer: (202) 745-4625; jpalmer@sojo.net

More Than 1,000 Pastors Sign Faith Pledge for 2012 Elections

Local Pastors and Christian Leaders Say They Won’t Abuse Faith This Election Season

Washington, D.C. - February 8, 2012

                Attacks against a candidate’s personal faith have been a consistent drumbeat so far in the 2012 elections. But an initiative designed to reach local pastors shows that not every Christian leader thinks that attacks on faith—or other uncivil, ad hominem attacks—should be used as a political weapon.

In light of the blatant attacks on Governor Mitt Romney’s Mormon faith, and recent condemnation of President Obama for quoting scripture at the National Prayer Breakfast, the faith community is speaking out. Sojourners and David Gushee, board chair of the New Evangelical Partnership for the Common Good, authored a “faith pledge” designed to reach the grassroots.

It’s no secret that faith can motivate passionate engagement in political issues—but, say the signers of the pledge, they won’t let that degenerate into partisan rancor, as in the current debate surrounding contraception exemptions. Based on the President’s decision, some leaders are using it as an opportunity to debate the role of faith in public policy, while others are using it as a partisan football. (See Sojourners’ statement of concern around the contraception decision here.)

“Pastors who say controversial things tend to make the headlines,” said Tim King, communications director for Sojourners and one of the pledge’s authors. “We believe the majority of pastors out there are trying to model faithful citizenship and civil dialogue for their congregations. They want the members of their churches to think critically about the issues at hand and not just follow a personality or a party.”

The Faith and the Election pledge, which is a commitment to civility, respect, and open dialogue, reads in part:

Our country has served as a model for the world by holding no religious test for office and protecting a diversity of religious beliefs. This tradition has helped make our country strong and free; it should be built upon and not forgotten.

During the 2012 election, I commit to combining my Christian faith with my civic responsibilities in the following ways:

To not attack the personal faith or religious beliefs of any candidate for office.

To not engage in uncivil or ad hominem attacks against candidates, current politicians, or other religious leaders.

To reject all forms of religious pandering and hold candidates for office and political leaders accountable when they abuse the beliefs of their rivals.

Dr. David Gushee, distinguished professor of Christian ethics at Mercer University and co-author of the pledge, adds:

America's Christians seem prone to terrible confusions related to how we bring our faith into the public square and what we look for in our political leaders in terms of faith. We are at risk of joining in on the tragic global problem of sectarian politics, in which religious people support their co-religionists for high office simply because they are co-religionists, and oppose others simply because they belong to a different faith or sect.

We can do better than this. We must do better than this. This pledge shows a better way forward: vote on the basis of past performance, promised policies, and demonstrated moral values. Reject all low-minded pandering and any religious tests for public office. It's not too late for us to get this right in 2012!

A full list of signers, along with each one’s city and state, is available on the Sojourners website here. “These are folks who don’t feel represented by the stories they see on cable news, and we wanted to make sure they had a voice,” says Tim King.

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Sojourners' mission is to articulate the biblical call to social justice, inspiring hope and building a movement to transform individuals, communities, the church, and the world. Visit www.sojo.netand www.GodsPolitics.com.