A number of Christian groups offer suggestions about how to engage with the upcoming federal elections October 21. Many tend to be partisan, whether intentionally or not. But the Evangelical Fellowship of Canada (EFC) has done a good job of presenting the basic facts and issues to consider, without too much embellishment. Key to their approach is prayer:
With a federal election scheduled for October, the EFC encourages Christians to invite God to work in the hearts and minds of all Canadians as we consider the future of our country. As in each election, there are important issues at stake.
Pray for leaders
As we are commanded in Scripture to pray for all those in authority, so that we may live lives of godliness and holiness (1 Timothy 2:2), we can ask God’s blessing on our elected officials, and all those who will be elected. We can pray that Canada will be a nation that “exalts righteousness” (Proverbs 14:34).
Pray for candidates
Elections are times for candidates to discover what is important to their constituents. Pray that candidates’ eyes will be open to the principles that are vital to a healthy and productive society. Pray that candidates and their families will experience protection, wisdom and grace during this time of great stress for them.
Pray for voters
Pray that voters will focus on the issues of central importance for building a just nation and that every potential voter will cherish and exercise the right to vote.
Pray for our country
We ask God to grant us peace and a love of neighbour that perseveres through our differences and that God will lead us into a greater understanding of our role as citizens, and of our life together as a nation.
Psalm 33:12-15, 20-22 (NIV)
Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD,
the people he chose for his inheritance.
From heaven the LORD looks down
and sees all mankind;
from his dwelling place he watches
all who live on earth–
he who forms the hearts of all,
who considers everything they do.
We wait in hope for the LORD;
he is our help and our shield.
In him our hearts rejoice,
for we trust in his holy name.
May your unfailing love rest upon us, O LORD,
even as we put our hope in you.
Along with prayer, the EFC provides a number of Federal Election 2019 Resources:
Voting is one way Christians contribute to society and the public good. When we vote we recognize the profound influence politics has on the lives of all Canadians. Public policy impacts our lives, influences the way we interact with one another, and helps shape the care and protection offered to our neighbours.Feel free to reproduce and distribute copies of the following resources in your group or church. To point friends to this webpage, use: www.TheEFC.ca/Election2019.
- Brochure Federal Election 2019: Faith, voting and political engagement
- Election 2019 call to prayer
- Questions for candidates
- How can churches engage in elections?
- Guide to holding an all-candidates meeting
- Webinar recordings:
- What churches can and cannot do during a federal election. Our expert guests were Deina Warren, legal counsel for the Canadian Council of Christian Charities, and Julia Beazley, director of public policy for the EFC. (June 19, 2019) [An article on Church for Vancouver addresses the issue as well.]
- Federal election – Why and how to get involved. Features EFC President Bruce J. Clemenger. (Sept. 22, 2015)
- Canadian electoral system refresher
- Being a Faithful Christian, Being a Good Citizen
The Canadian Council of Churches does not (yet at any rate) have a set of election guidelines.
CPJ / ARPA
Citizens for Public Justice (CPJ) has prepared a useful 2019 Election Bulletin, with particular focuses on:
* Participating in Democracy
* Ending Poverty in Canada
* Ensuring Climate Justice
* Upholding Refugee Rights
CPJ is Christian and does good work; its approach would appeal particularly to those on the left of the political spectrum. For some balance, check out ARPA Canada (Association for Reformed Political Action) – also Christian, but more conservative, with a focus on issues such as euthanasia, pre-born human rights and religious freedom. They do not offer an election guide, but an article on their first BC God & Government event is a good starting point, and their Publications page is full of related materials.
Politics for Dummies
The B.C. Catholic recently posted a story about the efforts of one man and his congregation to engage fellow Christians in the political process. Abbotsford parish offers ‘Politics for Dummies’ civics lessons begins like this:
Marc Vella won’t tell you who to vote for, but he will urge you to vote.
Vella has launched a Civic Affairs Committee [CAC] at St. James Parish in Abbotsford that hopes to encourage more Catholics to get interested and engaged in local politics.
“I started to volunteer, as a lowly door knocker, in the 2015 election campaign,” said Vella.
That’s when he started to realize “Christians just aren’t really involved all that much” in politics.
“It’s no wonder that our country is going down a non-Christian path. It’s not that we’re fighting a battle and losing. We’re just not fighting.” . . .
Vella said he’s gained practice in staying neutral while on the Conservative party’s National Policy Committee, a role that has charged him with keeping the policy-making process fair while keeping his own agenda out of the picture.
Vella might be considered partisan, given his political connections, but he aims to provide assistance broadly, regardless of individuals’ or churches’ political inclinations. He said to me in an email: “The committee at St. James is not only providing an education and mobilization ministry to our parish; as the first CAC in existence we’re also tasked with helping other parishes and churches start up CACs of their own.” Go here for contact information.