This election season has been incredibly stressful, and we are eager to get back to normal life. But before we put 2016 in the rearview, each of us must answer a simple question about the future. What comes next?
I mean literally, what are we going to do now about the issues that drove us to the voting booth?
Most of the Christians I know voted based on strong principles. We were convicted about issues and felt compelled to vote either for or against them. We balloted based on our faith.
But as we know, faith without action is useless, a mere charade of religion. “God talk without God-acts is outrageous nonsense” (James 2:17). We now have to do something about what we believe. It’s enough to vote and walk away. Besides, it would be naive to think that all we need do to create a just society is send a champion to Washington. In this Republic, we get the world we create.
So what can we actually do about the issues we care most about? Here are some suggestions
This year many Christians voted on this issue alone. Yet not even President put a stop to abortion all by himself. We have to help. So here are some things we can do to put some weight behind our vote.
Foster or adopt an American sibling group (i.e., brothers & sisters) who have been abandoned, abused, neglected, or have special needs.
Volunteer at a crisis pregnancy center.
Support public funding for programs that help single moms obtain childcare, housing, and jobs.
Support the provision of abstinence education, sex education, and birth control to young people, a proven way to reduce the number of abortions.
What else can we do to reduce, if not eliminate, the need for abortion in our country?
This was a big issue this year, as many of us have felt that our freedom to be who we are—to worship and evangelize, to publicly declare our faith—has been under fire for some time. Now that the election is over, what will we do to ensure religious freedom. Here are some ideas.
Call for enforcement of hate-crime legislation when churches, mosques, or temples are burned, vandalized, or attacked by domestic terrorists.
Support policies that allow people to wear clothing and hairstyles (for example, a hijab, turban, or beard) at work based on their religious principles.
Speak out against the unfair mischaracterization of people of any faith, including both Christians and Muslims.
Denounce demonstrations that are intended to intimidate people who are practicing their faith, such as cross burnings, vandalism, or picketing at houses of worship, regardless of the religion involved.
It would be hypocritical to expect religious freedom for ourselves but deny it to others, so what can we do to ensure that all people in our country have the freedom to worship as they see fit?
This was a huge issue for many Christians, regardless of the candidate they chose. Given the large number of undocumented people in the country, this will be a monumental task. For those serious about this issue, here are some suggested actions.
Start an immigration site at your church to assist people who are in complying with complex immigration policies and procedures.
Provide assistance to women and children whose husbands and fathers are detained or deported.
Volunteer to teach English to people who are trying to navigate the immigration system.
Support humane policy enforcement that does not break up families or put children at risk.
Don’t complain about the scarcity or cost of produce or landscaping and hospitality services when millions of low-wage workers are deported.
It will take much more than a wall to solve the massive social, economic, and bureaucratic problem of dealing fairly with the 11 million non-citizens among us. What can you do to help?
Treatment of Women
Many Christians were motivated to vote because they were appalled at the things said to and about women during this campaign. Others admitted that this was a problem, but reluctantly voted for a candidate who did not support their view. Regardless, we Christians uphold a high standard of morality and equality in the treatment of women. So what will we now do to ensure that women are safe from sexual harassment and have equal opportunity?
Call out sexual harassment whenever you see it, including at work and at church.
Support the enforcement of policies that call for equal pay for women doing the same work as men.
Listen to women who report being sexually abused and take their claims seriously.
Denounce “locker-room talk” and refuse to allow it in our presence.
Donate to or volunteer at ministries that help women escape the sex industry.
Select women for leadership roles in our churches.
We believe that all people, male and female, are created in God’s image. Beyond voting, what can we do to ensure that women are treated with respect and fairness in our country?
A Personal Question
These seem to be the main issues that drove Christians to vote as they did this year, but I’m sure there are others motivators.
What’s your key issue? Race? Jobs? Voting reform? Campaign finance reform? Support for the working poor?
What did you vote for this year?
Assuming that our votes were motivated by Christian conviction (not merely to make our own lives more comfortable), each of us now has a responsibility to act on that vote by answering this question:
Now that the election is over, what will I personally do to put my faith into action concerning the issues that drove me to to the polls?
Remember that this is a personal question. No fair telling others what they should do. You must answer this for yourself.
PS: I’m going to teach people how to read because I believe literacy and education are key to combatting key economic and social problems. Hat tip to Mick Silva.