Bishops of Diocese of North Carolina Offer Pre-Election Message
As Election Day approaches, we again encourage all who are eligible to make their voices heard at the polls. We stand resolutely on the side of free and fair elections followed by a peaceful affirmation and acceptance of the results.
We recognize that November 3 does not end the unprecedented moment we are in as a country. This has been an exceptionally hard season, and no matter the electoral outcome, we must recognize the suffering of so many from all walks of life due to COVID-19 alongside the systemic marginalization of racially subordinated persons, women, lesbian/gay and transgender, immigrant and poor people. This has been, and continues to be, a period of deep lament, when we collectively mourn what this time has revealed and take ownership of where we are complicit.
While we take no political position, we are mindful of the words of Presiding Bishop Michael Curry that political neutrality is not the same as moral neutrality. As forces of good and evil wrestle for our attention and embrace, we emerge from prayer with these convictions:
- When the world challenges our very understanding of what it means to be a follower of Jesus in a broken and violent world, we look no further than our Baptismal Covenant:
- Will you persevere in resisting evil?
- Will you seek and serve Christ in all persons, loving your neighbor as yourself?
- Will you strive for justice and peace among all people and respect the dignity of every human being?
Our affirmation to these questions -- “I will, with God’s help” -- is no less important now than when we first said we believed. The Church’s call and our response is one of daring, dangerous discipleship. It is the sacrificial work Jesus commissioned us to do with a fierce love that fulfills the law of God.
- Unhealed wounds must be tended to. This is our reality regardless of the leadership that emerges from this particular election. The Church stands as a reminder that we are called to confront the world with Good News and terrible truth. The Good News of Jesus Christ lifts us toward the redeeming love of God and assures us that we are not alone in the pursuit of God’s dream of beloved community. The terrible truth is in our complicity in settling for good enough while evil remains pernicious.
- We must continually and honestly acknowledge the trauma that has fallen disproportionately on our marginalized siblings. We seek unity on the principle that God’s love is for everyone. In this regard, The Episcopal Church, including the Diocese of North Carolina, has historically fallen short of full accountability. However, we continue to learn and to grow, and while we look forward to times of collegiality, we will not do so at the expense of those who continue to suffer. We recognize that it is not the responsibility of the wounded to heal themselves, but for those who have done harm to do right in restitution for the injuries they have caused. This includes those caused by the Church.
- We call upon every person of faith to stand as both advocates and as healers: advocates who lead the continuing fight against the crushing blows of poverty, racism, sexism, anti-gay bigotry, xenophobia, ableism and this pandemic; and healers of the deep divides among families, coworkers, neighbors and church members. We recognize that some may be called to public witness as they stand in solidarity with their commitment to bending the arc of the moral universe toward justice. We endorse their right to protest peacefully and call on local leaders to respond judiciously. Neither side should resort to violence.
- Our commitment to the priorities of the Diocese of North Carolina continue: to racial justice and reconciliation, to farmworkers and immigrants, to the criminal justice system, to affordable housing and to creation care. The Church remains the Church, and our witness is unwavering.
While divisions will not be resolved by this election, neither is our faith changed by it. Our hope is not dependent upon facile optimism or pursuing the easiest path to peace. As followers of Jesus, we don’t ignore the realities and struggles of this earthly pilgrimage; rather, we are called to engage such challenges with love and a living hope. That hope is a function of our commitment to a cause worthy of sacrifice when, together, we work for life-affirming justice and a peace beyond the easing of hostility. And we continue to be served by Micah’s call to do justice, love mercy and walk humbly in service to one another and to our God.
As always we immerse ourselves, in these days leading up to the election, in prayers for God’s grace and guidance and the direction of the Holy Spirit. Let our prayer unite us in mission and purpose as faithful witnesses to Jesus’ way of love.
Most loving God, whose will it is for us to give thanks for all things, to fear nothing but the loss of you, and to cast all our care on you who care for us: Preserve us from faithless fears and worldly anxieties, that no clouds of this mortal life may hide from us the light of that love which is immortal, and which you have manifested to us in your Son Jesus Christ our Lord; who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
(Book of Common Prayer, p. 216)