People of the Christian faith can and do disagree about most things. There is no one set definition of what it means to be a Christian, and there isn’t a litmus test on how our faith expresses itself in the political arena. Some Christians are politically active, some are not. Those who are can be found on all sides of any given public topic. So it’s not surprising that Christians of good conscience are on both sides of the ranked choice voting debate: A case can be made that neither voting structure violates the ethical conduct of our religion.
However, many behaviors utilized by politically active Christians do violate that ethical conduct. For example, it is dishonest to use a church name to mask campaign donations, as was seemingly done by the ironically named Alaskans for Honest Elections (the anti-ranked choice voting organization). This lie is a violation of the Christian call to honesty. But more deeply than that, this misuse of the title “church” for dishonest political machinations is a violation of the commandment, “You shall not make wrongful use of the name of the Lord your God,” or as it is written in the King James Version, “Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain” (Exodus 20:7).
Even worse than dishonesty and taking the Lord’s name in vain is cruelty. Christians can disagree on matters of policy, but not on the primacy of love in our shared ethical code. Throughout the entirety of scripture, love is non-negotiable. We are commanded in no uncertain terms to love God, love our neighbors, love migrants, love strangers, and even to love our enemy. Lifting up is especially important in loving those who grieve, particularly widows.
That is why it was especially sickening to see the X (formerly known as Twitter) social media account for Alaskans for Honest Elections attacking Rep. Mary Peltola on a post informing constituents how to send her condolences after tƒhe death of her husband. The original post, speaking only of nonpartisan kindness and support in a time of tragedy and devastating loss, was devoid of politics, while the response from Alaskans for Honest Election was devoid of compassion. The series of screeds accused the Peltolas of illegal activity, called them Marxists and Communists, and called Rep. Peltola’s chief of staff “complete garbage.” This account, officially representing Alaskans for Honest Elections and their fake church, also added, “I could care less if her husband died.” These comments and the entire account (which had been run by Phil Izon, one of the directors of the fake church and a director for Alaskans for Honest Elections) have since been deleted. But deleting a comment is not the same as apologizing for a comment; It’s not taking responsibility, it’s fleeing from it.
People of good conscience can and do disagree on Ranked Choice Voting. People of good conscience don’t require a biblical mandate to show kindness. But people of good conscience can’t lie about their funding and still purport to call themselves followers of God, and they definitely cannot be so devoid of compassion as to speak hate to the grieving. Alaskans for Honest Elections has violated the Bible’s law stated in Exodus 22:22, “You shall not mistreat any widow,” and Jesus’ command to love your neighbor as yourself. They owe all who grieve, and all Alaskans, an apology.
The Rev. Matthew Schultz serves as pastor at First Presbyterian Church.
The Rev. Michael Burke serves as rector at St. Mary’s Episcopal Church.
The Rev. Ellen Johnson-Price serves as pastor at Immanuel Presbyterian Church.
The Rev. Andy Bartel is lead pastor at St. John United Methodist Church.
Nora Ortiz Fredrick is director of Alaska Christian Conference.
Candace Bell is a member of the steering committee of Christians for Equality.
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