God’s Call on the Politically Ambivalent Christian

Don’t let partisan extremes and animosities prevent you from entering the arena for the sake of the common good.

Many Christians today are struggling with the question of whether, or to what extent, they should get involved in the messy world of American politics. This is a dilemma we feel most acutely whenever election season rolls around—and especially when the choices on offer appear far from ideal.

If there are disagreements within your church about the wisdom and efficacy of believers involving themselves in politics, then one source of good counsel is the AND Campaign, an organization devoted to a model of Christian civic education that aims to transcend conventional right-versus-left divisions. A new book, Compassion (&) Conviction: The AND Campaign’s Guide to Faithful Civic Engagement, lays out the core themes of the group’s philosophy.

One of the book’s significant strengths is that its clarion call for civic engagement doesn’t come from a set of detached “armchair theoreticians” but instead from three authors who have distinguished themselves at the highest levels of politics. Attorney Justin Giboney, the AND Campaign’s cofounder, has served as a delegate to the Democratic National Convention. Michael Wear, the group’s chief strategist, coordinated faith-based outreach efforts during Barack Obama’s presidency. And the third author, Chris Butler, is an activist in Chicago and senior leader of the Chicago Embassy Church Network.

Earnest Learning

Compassion (&) Conviction is packed with gems of wisdom on effective political engagement informed by Christian faith. Here are some that jumped out at me:

  • Value neutrality is a myth. Everyone has a set of value commitments. A proper understanding of the separation of church and state at the institutional level does not preclude any citizen bringing his or her value commitments to bear on discussions of public policy. And everyone needs to be “given a voice” so that a range of viable positions can be heard and discussed.

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