October 9, 2020
I turned 18 in November 1971 while living in Pittsburg, Kansas. I immediately did two things. I registered for the draft, which was mandatory. I also registered to vote, which was not. By the spring of 1972, I was voting for the first time and also serving as a poll worker for the primary election.
I share this to illustrate my deep level of commitment to our American democracy and the right and responsibility of all people to participate in the election of our leaders. But this wonderful gift can only work if it works for all of us, whether we are Republicans, Democrats, Independents or members of some other political party.
First, it is the duty of our government to make it as easy as possible for every citizen – regardless of gender, race, ethnicity or creed – to vote, and to ensure that no individual or representative of government attempts to deny anyone this right. I want to state in the strongest possible terms that this is especially important in light of the fact that too many times this fundamental American right has not been available to Black citizens.
Second, you should exercise your right to vote because it is a gift and a privilege. Study the issues, get to know the candidates and let your vote be an expression of your faith commitment.
Paragraph 164 of The 2016 Book of Discipline of the United Methodist Church address both of these aspects of voting:
¶164 A) Basic Freedoms and Human Rights – The form and the leaders of all governments should be determined by exercise of the right to vote guaranteed to all adult citizens.
¶164 B) Political Responsibility: The strength of a political system depends upon the full and willing participation of its citizens. The church should continually exert a strong ethical influence upon the state, supporting policies and programs deemed to be just and opposing policies and programs that are unjust.
While I assume you have all the information you need to exercise your right to vote, I want to share with you basic election information for Arkansas.
Elections always seem to become highly charged, but this year’s threatens to become more so because our nation is so divided. This is why I think there is great wisdom in what John Wesley wrote in his journal on October 6, 1774 about his ‘rules’ for voting:
I met those of our society who had votes in the ensuing election, and advised them,
- To vote, without fee or reward, for the person they judged most worth.
- To speak no evil of the person they voted against.
- To take care their spirits were not sharpened against those that voted on the other side.
Please join me in praying for our nation as we vote between now and November 3.
Grace and peace,
Gary E. Mueller