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November 3rd, 2012
09:00 PM ET

My Take: On Election Day, proclaiming my loyalty to Jesus

Editor's Note: Mark Schloneger is pastor of North Goshen Mennonite Church in Goshen, Indiana.

By Mark Schloneger, Special to CNN

It seems frivolous, even foolish.

On Tuesday, as the world turns its attention to who will occupy the most powerful office of the world’s most powerful nation, hundreds of churches will gather across the United States to worship a servant.

As votes are counted to elect a president, thousands of Christians will take the bread and the cup to remember their crucified Lord.

As winners are projected and the electoral map is updated, Christians of many denominations will sing their praises and proclaim their loyalty to Jesus.

It seems ridiculous, even silly.

After all, America is at a crossroads, and we are in the midst of one of the most critical presidential elections of our lifetimes. We know this because people have recited this same tired mantra before every presidential election.

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Our fears, our hopes, our worries and our struggles are the currency that buys our votes. And how do politicians and their supporters acquire this precious currency? They invest billions of dollars to foment fear, inspire hope, create worry and exploit our struggles.

It’s a power play. Some of us are pawns, and some of us are participants. But some of us are choosing a different part.

I initiated the Election Day Communion Campaign out of a concern that Christians in the United States are being shaped more by the tactics and ideologies of political parties than by our identity and unity in Christ. Out of this concern, a simple vision sparked the imaginations of congregations nationwide: the church being the church on Election Day, gathering at the Lord’s Table to remember, to give thanks for, and to proclaim its loyalty to Jesus.

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Gathering for Communion on Election Day seems fitting, for the practice of Communion is an inherently political act. It is both a pledge of allegiance to Jesus and a declaration of independence from all other powers making claims on our bodies, minds and souls.

Far too often, the church has abandoned its first love for the siren song of political parties promising protection, prosperity and peace. Far too many times, the church has ceded the practice of its faith to the spiritual and the private while leaving others to address matters of justice. And far too frequently, the church has attempted to speak truth to power while seeking and relying on that same power for protection.

The bread and the cup are God’s antidotes to our fickle memories. As we eat and drink together, we remember that all things fall under the lordship of Christ. We remember our sin and need to repent.

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We remember that God has lifted up the humble, filled the hungry with good things, and chosen to reveal God’s strength through our weakness.

We remember that the only Christian nation in this world is the church, the holy nation that transcends all human-made walls, boundaries and borders.

As we gather at the table, we remember that the power to redeem, to save, and to transform comes not from atop the seat of power but from within the life, death and resurrection of Jesus.

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We will gather for Election Day Communion not because we think that the issues at stake in this election are unimportant or that our votes don’t really matter. No, we will gather for Communion because we think that the issues at stake in all elections are far too important to be relegated to our votes alone.

The Lord’s Supper reminds followers of Jesus to practice the politics of Jesus. To me, practicing the politics of Jesus means working to protect the sanctity of all human life, whether it is found in the womb, in prison, or in countries at war against us.

It means choosing the way of forgiveness and reconciliation rather than vengeance and violence. It means practicing an economy based on generosity and mutual aid.

It means offering care and compassion to suffering people regardless of their immigration status, economic class or religious practice.

It means being good stewards of God’s good creation. And, most of all, it means allowing God’s kingdom to break into the entirety of our lives, from the privacy of our homes to the politics we practice in public.

The bread and the cup keep calling me back to the table inscribed with memory. There, I remember God’s choice for the transfer of power. There, I remember where to go with my fears, my hopes, my worries and my struggles. At the table, with my sisters and brothers, I am in the presence of the Holy.

Though I’m interested in the outcome of the presidential election, I won’t be watching the projected results as they are announced. I’ve made a prior commitment. I intend to honor it.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Mark Schloneger.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: 2012 Election • Belief • Christianity • Politics

soundoff (3,435 Responses)
  1. John

    My dad use to say that most or the world's problems stem from religion. I agree with that assessment more and more everyday. Vote your conscience, do what you think is right, don't let anyone tell you what to do based on their interpretation of what Jesus or Muhammed or anyone else would have you do.

    November 4, 2012 at 8:09 am |
    • LiberalismRequiresTyranny

      John,

      How do you know "what is right"? You just make it up as you go and change it daily?
      Seriously..On what do you base your morals?

      November 4, 2012 at 8:19 am |
  2. jazz77

    Why are you people entertaining foolishness.

    November 4, 2012 at 8:08 am |
    • My Name is Legion

      jazz
      Football doesn't start till 1pm EDT.

      November 4, 2012 at 8:13 am |
    • My Name is Legion

      jazz
      Oops EST as of 2AM.

      November 4, 2012 at 8:14 am |
  3. Rick McDaniel

    Most of us would like to have a real person in the WH, thanks.

    November 4, 2012 at 8:08 am |
  4. Blake

    Mark 16:16 – He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned- Why would you take a chance?

    November 4, 2012 at 8:08 am |
    • Ed

      Pascal's wager. How stale. Belief is not a choice. What if YOU are wrong about Islam? Why take that chance? Convert today!

      November 4, 2012 at 8:20 am |
    • ElmerGantry

      Ah the old Pascal's wager again. Just say you believe just in case.

      Don't you think an all-knowing and ever-present god would detect that people are only saying they believe just in case?

      Wanting to believe is not a reason to believe!

      November 4, 2012 at 8:21 am |
    • Fact Check

      Pascal came up with this argument 250 years ago. It is as cynical an argument for pseudo-faith based on playing the odds now as it was then.

      November 4, 2012 at 8:21 am |
  5. LiberalismRequiresTyranny

    From the words he used, I do not believe the writer of this article is a Christian.

    If anyone sees a reason to believe he is a Christian, I'd be interested in hearing why.
    (Please be so kind as to define what it is that you think makes a person a Christian.)

    November 4, 2012 at 8:08 am |
  6. KG

    I don't care what people believe as long as they keep religion out of politics. While I agree with what this man said about caring for the poor and so on, he seems to be too close to mixing politics with his religion for my comfort.

    November 4, 2012 at 8:06 am |
    • Fank

      So many in christiandom feel this way, yet they all love the song (GOD BLESS AMERICA) Hey God its not that we dont want your blessing, we just dont want you involved with what you bless.

      November 4, 2012 at 8:15 am |
    • LiberalismRequiresTyranny

      KG,
      Every single one of us base our politics on our morals, which are born of our religious views.
      Your hypocritical religion is that my politics should not include religion, but it's OK for you. I don't share your religion.

      November 4, 2012 at 8:16 am |
  7. Chris Murray

    There are no "Atheists" in a foxhole. Love all these philosophizing, witty internet twits. If you've ever been shot at you would all start praying to some higher being.

    November 4, 2012 at 8:05 am |
    • Ed

      Crying out to a "god" because you are scared of death does not make him real.

      November 4, 2012 at 8:07 am |
    • Dennis

      and children think there are monsters in the closet when the lights got out, but that 't widely shared mythology doesn't make them real.

      November 4, 2012 at 8:09 am |
    • Fact Check

      Wow, Chris, good thing we twits have you to help us out. And the penetrating observation that "there are no Atheists in foxholes" Powerful, original thought. And this notion gives us a great way to find The Truth. We just need to interview people when they believe themselves near death! This will be much less messy than reasoning through actual, real-world dilemmas. Boy, it sure is a good thing that Muslims, Christians, Jews, Hindus, et al. all end up with exactly the same view of God at that instant of time. We should get right on your program for finding The Truth in Foxholes after we noodle through why earnest prayer leads half of the Christians seeking to know God's mind to vote for Obama, and half of them to vote for Romney, and for all of them to count the other half deluded.

      November 4, 2012 at 8:39 am |
  8. Anon

    Thank you for writing a moving piece calling all religious people to live their callings. May this vision of Christianity be increasingly realized in our world.

    November 4, 2012 at 8:05 am |
  9. srkp

    . If you truly vote by values he taught us then your vote is always against Republican policies.

    November 4, 2012 at 8:04 am |
    • mannycl

      Stupidity has no limits.

      November 4, 2012 at 8:12 am |
  10. matsci2

    And if you're not Christian what does the good Reverend believe you should do? Other than convert, that is.

    November 4, 2012 at 8:04 am |
    • Fank

      If your govenment isnt a democracy what would the good U.S.A have you do? other than convert, that is.

      November 4, 2012 at 8:23 am |
  11. WakeUp

    Please stop people! Belief in a God is foolish. Religion was constructed to ease people's fear of death.

    November 4, 2012 at 8:03 am |
    • mark

      By calling people of faith foolish, you have revealed what the pastor is portraying in the article. Jesus brought people together, unfortunately you are trying create chasms between us. As a Christian I love you, and if we met I'd embrace you, I wonder if you'd do the same? It's easy to criticise it's much more difficult to love what you don't like, as Jesus did. The path of least resistance is to hate and move on, the narrow path, and more challenging is to love what doesn't love you. I choose that one and hence love you. God Bless all non believers!! Please God embrace them as you have promised you would in your son. Amen

      November 4, 2012 at 8:25 am |
  12. michael in houston

    In the Bible it says.....All Nations, all Kings, all princes of the world count to Him as less then nothing. They are less then dust.

    November 4, 2012 at 8:03 am |
    • Dennis

      Muggles everywhere celebrate. He who must not be named is Gone

      November 4, 2012 at 8:05 am |
    • LiberalismRequiresTyranny

      How's about a chapter and verse, please.

      I'd prefer it if you didn't put words in God's mouth. His actual words are more than good enough for me.

      November 4, 2012 at 8:50 am |
  13. SensibleJoe

    Thank you, Pastor Schloneger, for reminding us that God is neither a Republican nor a Democrat, but above and beyond both, and that no party fully lives us to his mandate to love neighbor, love enemy and treat others the same way we want to be treated - which are the values that we really need to shape our politics in this country and around the globe.

    November 4, 2012 at 8:03 am |
  14. Dennis

    Voting by religion is a Mythtake.

    November 4, 2012 at 8:02 am |
  15. Alex Buds

    My vote is for the flying teapot in the sky. Or possibly the flying spaghetti monster. I'm an undecided, you see.

    November 4, 2012 at 8:02 am |
    • My Name is Legion

      Hey Alex
      When you go to heaven do you want to sip tea all day or raise a nice cold pint of beer, should be an easy decision to make.

      November 4, 2012 at 8:10 am |
  16. the AnViL

    i think it's great when delusional people identify themselves. it makes things easier.

    i hope at some point we can enact legislation establishing punitive measures for those individuals and religious organizations that attempt to politicize or secularize their theological ideals.

    tolerance of religious idiocy has got to end.

    enough is enough

    November 4, 2012 at 8:02 am |
    • LiberalismRequiresTyranny

      Thank you for demonstrating what we've known all along.
      "Tolerance" is a pride-filled lie. Always has been. Cannot be anything but a lie.

      People who claim they're tolerant only tolerate what they don't disagree with.

      November 4, 2012 at 8:53 am |
    • the AnViL

      there isn't anything wrong with intolerance. oncologists have no tolerance for the cancerous tumours they remove.

      religious nutbags are a cancerous tumour – and need to be extricated.

      November 4, 2012 at 8:28 pm |
  17. NYOMD

    And what about those that don't believe in Jesus? How should they vote? Since both of the mainstream candidates have already given big ups the JC, that's pretty much a middle finger to the rest of us. Unless one of the candidates chooses some other religion or becomes an atheist, I'm staying home on election day!

    November 4, 2012 at 8:02 am |
  18. cnickthomas

    Mitt Romney is a Mormon who believes that there is more than one god and that MEN can become gods of other worlds. I know this sounds ridiculous, but this is what the Mormon religion teaches! This is not taught in the Holy Bible. This is only taught in Joseph Smith's Book of Mormon. This religion is not Christian. If you do not like Obama and you find Romney's religious belief's strange and anti-Christian, you don't need to stay home on election day. WRITE-IN on your ballot, "Jesus Christ". By their fruits ye shall know them. The people of Mass., know Mitt Romney when he was Governor of that state. Why is it that the people of Mass., do NOT favor him in this election? Could it be they know what a horrible Governor he was for their state? Mass., ranked 48th in Job growth while he served as Governor! There are only 50 states! So much for someone who claims to be a job creator. This man talks out of both sides of his mouth and will say anything to get elected. Don't vote for this liar. WRITE-IN on your ballot, "Jesus Christ".

    November 4, 2012 at 8:02 am |
  19. Nowikowwhynoonewatchescnn

    CNN- not only the network and website of liberals, but also condescending elitists based upon comments to this man's OPINION. Yes, CNN elitists, people are allowed to have their opinions and yes you can act like the hypocrites you are claiming to be tolerant (only if its suits you) but spew the vile hate you have shown in these comments. Here is my best Joe Biden interpretation for you all: ha ha ha

    November 4, 2012 at 8:01 am |
    • NYOMD

      This is evidence that CNN is liberal? Go back to commenting on the bullsh6t articles on Fukcx News.

      November 4, 2012 at 8:12 am |
    • Harrison

      Oh, you're mormon aren't you. It is not anyones intent to insult you but you have to understand that what you believe falls sooooo far out of the accepted Judeo/ Christian tradition that it stikes the rest of us as utterly ludicrous. Since Romney holds these beliefs and is seeking the top job, it's totally appropriate to question them.

      November 4, 2012 at 8:12 am |
    • ElmerGantry

      CNN has been loosing audience because CNN because CNN has been moving slowly to the right. CNN has hired extreme right wing talking heads Erick Erickson, Dana Loesch (a supporter so Akin even after many GOPers distanced themselves from Akin) and hired refugee FOX NEWS executive Margaret Hoover.

      BTW: Margaret Hoover publicly stated CNN needed to move to the right (politically).

      CNN has been giving uncontested and unopposed air time tho extreme right wing talking heads of the likes of FRC's Tony Perkins. Soooo, CNN's audience is to take Perkin's views as truth since there is now opposing view presented. A very typical FOX NEWS technique. Congratulations CNN, you too can be as tabloid as FOX.

      November 4, 2012 at 8:17 am |
    • ElmerGantry

      @NYOMD,

      The refugee FOX NEWS bloggers can't go to FAUX. They are refugees from the closed FOX blogs. Pity them. LOL

      November 4, 2012 at 8:24 am |
    • Nowikowwhynoonewatchescnn

      As you can already see, these comments prove my point.

      November 4, 2012 at 8:27 am |
    • NYOMD

      @ElmerGantry: Thanks for the information. I normally avoid anything to do with Fox News like the plague. It's a pity that these wretches aren't even allowed to tr8ll on the webpages of their own beloved network. But it makes perfect sense. If Fox News wanted the opinion of their viewers, they would give it to them.

      November 4, 2012 at 8:38 am |
  20. K White

    I am fed up with several organized religion inserting themselves into political debates. This country was founded around religious freedom which further means those who have no religion what-so-ever must also be respected. I think the IRS needs to start pulling non profit status for those religious leaders who have the gall to preach politics and mix it with religion. I have left the Catholic Church for just such reasons.

    November 4, 2012 at 8:01 am |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.