10 Ways Christians Can Protect Democracy | Sojourners

10 Ways Christians Can Protect Democracy

A sign for a prayer service in Bedford, N.H., in advance of the 2016 presidential election. Andrew Cline / Alamy via Reuters Connect.

Commitment to democratic norms is not a matter of political partisanship. The vast majority of Americans believe in, practice, and defend democracy — but there are partisan elites with powerful antidemocratic impulses gaining a foothold. As I wrote in “Faith and the Authoritarian Playbook,” people of faith have values rooted deeper than any political ideology and have led powerful pro-democracy movements around the world. In Hope and History, Vincent G. Harding reminds us that history, like our democracy, is not a spectacle but a task; it’s “a destiny that is still ours to create.” Here are ways Christians can be partisans for democracy.

1. Pray together.

Prayer fosters spiritual imagination, bravery, compassion, and an ability to hold fast to truth amid disinformation. World Vision offers 6 ways to pray for our country during the election. The Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention also offers a prayer guide. Sojourners has election litany and prayers, ready for sharing on social media. Texas Impact collected interreligious prayers to use during an election season.

2. Foster healthy debate.

Lead conversations that are honest, nonpartisan, and religiously grounded. To work effectively across partisan lines, Sojourners developed a curriculum for Politically Divided Congregations to strengthen Christian unity, evangelism, and the public witness of the church. The National Governors Association launched the Disagree Better Initiative to reduce animosity and foster healthy debate on policy initiatives. Preventing and Responding to Election Disruption and Violence from the Strong Cities Network helps local leaders defuse misleading information, prevent election-related violence, and promote social resilience and solidarity.

3. Learn together how authoritarian movements work.

Protect Democracy’s The Authoritarian Playbook, Just Security’s American Autocracy Threat Tracker, and United to Protect Democracy’s The Authoritarian Playbook for 2025 may inform your conversations. The International Center on Nonviolent Conflict offers online democracy courses in several languages.

4. Encourage voting and civic engagement.

Encourage voting and civic engagement by teaching about pro-democratic norms and values through sermons, bulletins, and other communications channels. Name the values that guide Christian engagement in politics. Faiths United to Save Democracy has several resources for faith communities.

5. Develop “democracy pledges.”

Generation Vote’s pledge for politicians holds them accountable to use their power to protect voters’ rights and stop election subversion. Clergy can use a democracy protection pledge to guide congregations. Sojourners’ Civic Discipleship statement and resources may serve as inspiration. The (&) Campaign is hosting a Civic Revival featuring Christian civic disciplines for faith and politics.

6. Share your space.

Offer religious spaces as polling sites by contacting your local election office. Visit the nonpartisan site Power the Polls for guidance on how to apply to be a poll worker in your community. Be part of safe, fair, and efficient elections for all.

7. Offer training to provide accompaniment.

Provide training for protective accompaniment at the polls to deter threats and intimidation. Become congregational “poll chaplains” with the Faiths United to Save Democracy team. Train your communities in effective, strategic nonviolent action, consistent with our deepest held religious beliefs. DC Peace Team and Pace e Bene offer trainings. See Beautiful Trouble’s cool BATMo! card deck to support nonviolent action trainings. Over Zero’s Election Violence Prevention Toolkit for mayors and local leaders focuses on building strong communities, providing clear communication, and deescalating election threats. Interfaith America and Protect Democracy have developed the Faith in Elections Playbook to help religious communities support free, fair, and peaceful elections.

8. Prepare for the day after the election.

Watch and discuss the documentary War Game where a bipartisan group of U.S. defense, intelligence, and elected policymakers participate in an unscripted role-play exercise on political violence in a contested election. With communities across political and religious differences, develop a plan for advancing democratic norms after the election. The North Carolina Council of Churches developed a Sacred Conversations toolkit on becoming a trauma-informed faith community for shaping pastoral responses during crises. Talk about post-election stress from the pulpit. Make a pledge to stay off social media for a day. Choose Democracy prepares Americans to respond in the case of an undemocratic power grab (as we experienced in January 2021), particularly between November elections and a January presidential inauguration.

9. Publicly support all who stand against authoritarianism and white supremacy.

Provide public support to any faith leader or community — across the political, ideological, or theological spectrum — who takes a courageous stand against authoritarianism and white supremacy. Stand with them when they face backlash. Provide them with safe avenues of communication. Defending Democracy Together helps responsible conservatives vote for democracy. George Lakoff’s Don’t Think of an Elephant! urges progressives to present a clear moral vision for the U.S. so democracy can deliver on its promises.

10. Democratize life.

Reducing the threat of authoritarianism and building an inclusive democracy must be woven into every part of our civic life and have a long-term strategy. The Kairos Center and MoveOn Education Fund’s 2023 report All of U.S. provides recommendations for investing in pro-democracy resources particularly in rural regions among poor and working-class communities.

Editors’ note: Sojourners is a partner of Faiths United to Save Democracy and may collaborate with other organizations listed above. Decisions about editorial content are the responsibility of Sojourners’ editorial team, free from the demands or influence of donors, advertisers, and organizational partners.