“Not in my lifetime has there been a spectacle which has so depressed me. One wonders how long the free society can endure degradation of the office of president in campaigns such as this. The intensity of feeling is going to leave us with a first class national headache on November 4. After all, we shall have to go on living and working together as Americans but it is not going to be easy to heal some of the wounds which have been inflicted.”
Do these words seem an apt description of where we are today? Do you resonate with the angst one feels as a Christian and a compassionate caring human being during an election season? Well, these words were written in our church newsletter in 1964 by our then Senior Minister, Dr. Lawrence Bash, in the week prior to the presidential election when Johnson was running against Goldwater. Even before social media and the 24-hour news cycle, there was intense political tension during an election year. We have a tendency to think that we live in the worst of times. But each time in American history has had its set of challenges. And human beings in every decade have behaved both nobly and embarrassingly poorly.
I loved the article I read in the Kansas City Star last month describing neighbors not far from the church. The two men are polar opposites politically. Each displays large yard signs: one for Trump and one for Biden. They live across the street from each other and have for 18 years and they each post radically contrasting signs promoting specific issues and political opinions. But they are friends. One brings the other a sack of muffins every Saturday morning. I suspect that most of us dearly love someone who will vote differently than us this November.
As Christians, we are held together by the love of Christ rather than political parties which shift with the wind. The issues of our day are real and I believe with all my heart that God cares about these issues. That it matters how we vote. But as Dr. Bash said in 1964, “it is not my function to tell you how to vote…We must make our choice in the best light God may give and I trust you will exercise your citizenship responsibly”
Grace and Peace,