What United Methodists need to know about voting

Sporting an “I voted” sticker yet? On Tuesday, Nov. 4, many citizens across the United States will head to the polls. Others will stay at home, arguing, “My vote won’t make a difference.”

However, two young United Methodist pastors beg to differ.

The Rev. Elizabeth Murray, a provisional deacon in the South Carolina Conference, is director of Hispanic ministries at Mount Hebron United Methodist Church, West Columbia, South Carolina, and a Hispanic/Latino ministry consultant to the conference Office of Congregational Development. 

Be sure to add the alt. text

The Rev. Elizabeth Murray directs Hispanic ministries at Mount Hebron United Methodist Church, West Columbia, South Carolina. Photo courtesy of Elizabeth Murray.

“I vote,” she says, “because I know voting can make a difference in my community, nation and the lives of others. I vote, not only because it is my civic duty as a United States citizen, but also because I have vowed, as a Christian, to do no harm and to do good. I vote to protect the rights of — and promote equality for — women. I vote to make sure everyone has equal access to the right to vote. I vote for my voice to be heard on comprehensive immigration reform.”

The Rev. Michael Anthony Parker II agrees.

“To cast a vote,” Parker says, “is to say to those we endow and enable to serve us as civil servants that we affirm their leadership and ability to act on the behalf of the citizens they serve.

“As a young adult and man of color,” he continues, “I deeply value and honor the legacy my ancestors laid as they fought for the right to make their voices heard at the polls. Not an election day goes by that I do not make way to the polls and cast my ballot.” Parker is lead pastor at Ames United Methodist Church in Bel Air, Maryland.

Both Murray and Parker believe voting is the right thing for people of faith to do.

“Throughout the Bible,” Murray says, “God commands people of faith to love the widow, the orphan and the immigrant. How does our faith influence how we vote at the polls or how we think politically?”

“We have a moral responsibility to exercise our right to vote,” adds Parker. “One of the distinct calls of Christians is to be a prophetic witness to the communities in which we live. By prophetic witness, I simply mean we are obligated to speak truth to power, even when it is difficult.”

Be sure to add the alt. text

The Rev. Michael Anthony Parker is lead pastor for Ames United Methodist Church in Bel Air, Maryland. Photo courtesy of Michael Parker.

Social Principles provide foundation

Murray cites the United Methodist Social Principles, first adopted by the 1972 General Conference. Paragraph 164.B states, “The strength of a political system depends upon the full and willing participation of its citizens. The church should continually exert a strong ethical influence upon the state, supporting policies and programs deemed to be just and opposing policies and programs that are unjust.”

“The people of The United Methodist Church,” she says, “are committed to justice for all. It is important to recognize that not everyone who is in this country or who attends our churches has the ability and right to vote, so we much use our privilege to stand up for those who do not have a voice. Voting is important for United Methodists because we have the power to influence policies that could severely influence our communities for better or for worse.”

Don’t just talk about voting, Parker cautions. Set a positive example.

“Candidates who care about what we care about cannot elect themselves. However, it goes beyond simply encouraging others to vote.”

He offers three concrete ideas:

  • Offer neighbors and friends transportation to the polling site.
  • Form a voting group and go to the polls together. Walk if the polling site is close; that would be great exercise as well.
  • Volunteer your church van to carpool community members to the polls, especially older adults and people with physical limitations.

“A vote-less people is a voiceless people,” he says.

Murray adds, “If we do not vote, how can we be a voice of justice and hope? We cannot be that voice when we remain quiet.”

*Dunlap-Berg is general church content editor, United Methodist Communications, Nashville, Tenn.

Media contact is Barbara Dunlap-Berg at 615-742-5470.

Like what you're reading? Support the ministry of UM News! Your support ensures the latest denominational news, dynamic stories and informative articles will continue to connect our global community. Make a tax-deductible donation at ResourceUMC.org/GiveUMCom.

Sign up for our newsletter!

Human Rights
A view of the U.S. Supreme Court. United Methodists have varied reactions after the Supreme Court on June 24 overturned Roe v. Wade, holding that there is no longer a federal constitutional right to an abortion. Photo courtesy of the Architect of the Capitol.

United Methodists react to end of Roe v. Wade

United Methodists alternately expressed fear and contentment with the U.S. Supreme Court decision released June 24 that holds there is no longer a federal constitutional right to an abortion.
Mission and Ministry
Tim Tanton (center, in red), chief news and information officer for United Methodist Communications, shares updates with African communicators and other UMCom staff during the 2019 General Conference. World Press Freedom Day, observed May 3, commemorates journalists and highlights the difficulties they face while reporting truth. File photo by Kathleen Barry, UM News

World Press Freedom Day and the church

Tim Tanton with United Methodist News talks about giving voice to the voiceless and why freedom of information is essential not only for society but for the church.
The Rev. Tom Berlin (left) presents a copy of his book, “Courage,” to Massachusetts National Guard Chaplain Chad McCabe in the chapel at Wesley Theological Seminary in Washington. McCabe, whose unit was assigned to help provide security at the U.S. Capitol after the January riot, contacted Wesley Seminary asking for Bibles, novels and board games for troops stationed there. Photo by Lisa Helfert for Wesley Theological Seminary. Copyright 2021. All rights reserved. Used with permission.

Church responds to chaplain's call to help soldiers

A National Guard chaplain got Bibles, games and 150 copies of a new book about courage when he turned to Wesley Theological Seminary for help keeping soldiers occupied in Washington in the aftermath of the Capitol insurrection.