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.
And so we see the start of "Idiocracy".
Loons in the dark ages, all of you.
Loyalty to Zeus is all well and good, but keep your bronze age tribal beliefs out of civilized politics... Wouldn't want anymore witch hunting now would we...
Ten Reasons You Know you are an Atheist.
1. You were likely brought up a theist (probably a Christian if you live in the USA) and had to do your own thinking to rise above the beliefs that still occupy the mind of the believer. This usually involved being smart and working hard at school and college so as to get a good, accurate view of the natural Universe and overcoming significant social pressure to dumb yourself down and conform. In short, you had the guts to ask the hard questions and the brains to spot the weak answers. The more you came to understand the Universe, the less reason there was to believe in a god and the more you came to appreciate human nature, the more you understood why billions of us still do.
2. While rejecting the supernatural elements of the Bible, you nevertheless retain a large amount of the morality taught today by mainstream Christianity. To the extent you reject Christian morality, it is where it is mean spirited – such as in the way it seeks to curtail freedoms or oppose the rights of $exual minorities. In most other respects, your basic moral outlook is indistinguishable from that of the liberal Christian – you just don’t need the mother of all carrots and sticks hanging over your head in order to act in a manner that you consider moral.
3. You know a great deal more about the Bible than most believers. This is because you took the time to read it yourself and did not rely on the primary-color simple stories you learned in Sunday school. You have also probably done some research into the historical Jesus and have a good handle on where he REALLY fit in to the broader picture of the Middle East at the time. Needless to say, his miracles and other magic powers soon started to look pretty unlikely.
4. Your knowledge of basic science and history is much stronger than that of your average believer. You likely have a basic working knowledge of physics, astronomy, evolutionary biology and cosmology and a good idea of the history of life on this planet. This acc.umulated knowledge puts you in a position to judge the claims of the Bible in a critical light and they are almost always found wanting. To the theist, this makes you “elitist” and ‘arrogant”.
5. You relish your role as a religious minority in the USA, as this gives you an impetus to fight and you understand how others with unpopular, but doubtlessly correct views have felt throughout history. There is something altogether satisfying to you about having a deep conviction you are right and being viewed with disdain for your views by the errant majority. You feel a quiet confidence that future generations will look back on you as a member of a class of trailblazers, as religious supersti.tions go into inevitable decline in popularity.
6. You are likely more environmentally aware than your theist friends and colleagues and unlikely to fall for claims of industry and wind-bag politicians concerning the impact of man’s activities on the environment. You could no more act in an environmentally irresponsible manner because “god will keep us safe” than you could jump of a ship, believing King Neptune will keep you safe.
7. You generally have a live and let live atti.tude, but will fiercely defend any attempts by theists to thrust their views on you or your children, directly or through control of school boards, the legislature or the executive. While you are prepared to debate and argue passionately with the theist on an intellectual level, you would never wish them harm or ill will. You know you are likely to be smugly told you will “burn in hell for all eternity” for your healthy skepticism. This highlights what you despise about religion, as you would not wish a bad sunburn on another, simply because they have a different religious view to you. You have never heard of an evolutionary biologist strapping a bomb to himself and running into a church yelling “Darwin-u akbar”.
8. You likely know more about other religions than your average theist. This makes you less fearful of them and enables you to see parallels. You realize that, if you were born in India, you would have been brought up with a totally different religion. You realize that every culture that has ever existed has had its own god(s) and they always favor that particular culture, its hopes, dreams and prejudices. They cannot all exist and you see the error all faiths make of thinking only theirs exist(s). This “rising above” the regional nature of all religions was probably instrumental in your achieving atheism.
9. You likely have a deep, genuine appreciation of the fathomless beauty and unbelievable complexity of our Universe, from the 4 nucleotides that orchestrate every aspect of you, through to the distant quasars, without having to think it was all made for you. You likely get more out of being the irrelevant ant staring up at the cosmos than you do in having to pretend that it was all made to turn in majestic black-and-white pirouette about you.
10. While you have a survival instinct, you cannot fear death in the way the theist does. You know that the whole final judgment story, where you may be sent to hell if you fail, is Dark Ages nonsense meant to keep the Church’s authority. You also know that you were dead for 13,700,000,000 years before you were born. It is impossible for you to fear death, for the simple reason that you know the capacity to fear (or to feel pain or discomfort) itself dies. You will not even know you are dead. Fear of death is as meaningless to you as is the fear of a vacuum, the fear of not being born. You feel a lot more secure, and indeed a deep comfort, in this knowledge, than you would in trying to yoke yourself to some quasi-hope that every part of your intellect tells you is untenable.
Wow. Atheism sounds like a great bunch of perfect people.
Not perfect. Just rational.
I was raised as a Christian, and being "enlightened" I became an atheist. I allowed myself to follow my own compass and before long, I was totally lost. I thought education would help, so I studied hard and graduated at the top of my class; but that only made me lost and educated. I thought by studying other people's faith I could find what I was looking for, so I read I Ching, Book of Lies, the Quoran, eastern mysticism, wicca, etc., and while I became convinced that there was certainly something out there, I didn't understand what it was. I decided to read the Bible, and it became alive to me, and I was saved. The God of all creation became personally known to me through the work of Jesus Christ...
Because you are atheist and assume that you are more intelligent than Christians, you display your ignorance...
Someone told me there has not been a Xmas tree in the white house since Obama took over? I do not like this. I do not like him. I will not turn the other cheek when I fill out my ballot on Tues. A vote for Jesus is a good thing. Too many have forgotten what he did. You could get a rude reminder at any time, when we least expect.
you are apparently easily fooled.
Then somebody told you wrong...
Check out HGTV's website. Every Christmas they have a special where they show how the White House is decorated for the holidays. There are Christmas trees all over the White House every year, including this last one and this coming holiday season.
Stop watching Faux News and try finding out things for yourself.
Ah, so you took it on faith that what people were saying was true instead of doing a little searching on your own.
rick – jesus is not on any ballot.
Seeing that the "christmas" tree is a pagan tradition that far pre-dates Christianity and was considered anti-Christian to display one, he would be more Christian than most of you if he did not display one. Of course you Christians steal holidays and traditions from pagans all the time, rename them, and then pretend it's always been that way. Just another part of your delusions.
dam – not only that, he obviously wanted it to be true based on the ignorance it required to actually believe it.
Someone lied to someone else and that someone else lied to you, and you all come up with stupid addle-headed destructive gossip, like Obama is a Muslim.
Sir, I don't like you either. This stupidity of your kind the reason this country is in such bad shape.
As an elementary teacher, we teach 4th graders the difference between fact and opinion. Does a Christmas tree make a person a Christian?
Yes, I am sure he was glad to find people who thought the exact same things he does.
The Democrats have already proven that they are the GODLESS PARTY during their Democrat National Convention when they stripped all mention of the word GOD and then had delegates boo GOD and JERUSALEM.
I am not saying that there aren't good religious and highly spiritual members of the Democrat Party but.....IT MUST BE VERY HARD TO BE A DEMOCRAT AND RELIGIOUS AT THE SAME TIME.
I vote republican and I am an atheist
Actually it is quite easy to be religious and a Democrat at the same time. I do not think my religious beliefs should be shoved down everyone's throat like some conservative Christians think. I am a person of faith who also believes in social justice, a moderate fiscal policy, and a progressive view of the world.
Just because you think you have an exclusive defintion of being Christian does not make it true.
Wow! Salvation, being saved! What am I being saved from?
I believe in God/Goddess and The Universal Creator. So, why would a Loving Creator want to send me to Hell for Non-worship? I feel that something so vast as The Creator of the Universe is not involved with human emotions such as jealousy, anger, etc. Jesus was real and was on Earth to teach us that our Souls are eternal. We evolve! There just are not a large amount of evolved souls on Earth @ this time. The "leaders" are evolved and are here for everyone to learn our dark sides. Things are being revealed!
very new agey.
Why is CNN covering all of this Faith stuff...starting to wonder if CNN has become the Church News Network...
They are just pointing out the absurdity of Christian beliefs. They should next do a piece on the flat Earth society so we can laugh at them too.
why do you have to mock, i'm not going to go to church or anything but if people want to they can, freedom of religion.
People get a little defensive when they hear any combination of religion and politics.
We're sick and tired of being told the law will be set according to someone else's personal faith and the rest of us will just have to live by it.
Yeah, mandatory transväginal probes are nothing to worry about. Let the religious make whatever laws they want and won't affect anyone adversely, right aurora?
...who the Hell is Mohamet?
you know who.
I say we worship a different god each day of the year
Let us start today November 4 with Huixtocihuatl, aztec goddess of salt.
i do enjoy salt
Which one is God of Maple Syrup?
How do I reconcile my adoration of Hux.... Hicks..... that goddess you mentioned and the fact that salt is bad for my health?
Can Sticky Yum Yum be the name of the syrup deity?
To what depths...? The Communist News Network (CNN) is now politicizing Jesus. Attempting to make Christians feel guilty should they vote for Romney. Just doesn't get lower. Are there really sane human beings who will do such deception? If there are, they work at the Communist News Network (CNN). Would a sane person still work for a concern knowing what they produce is knowingly deceptive and misleading? Would you? Why no investigation into Libya? It was the Communist News Network (CNN) who discovered the smoking gun!!! The ambassador's diary!!! The Communist News Network was inside the compound long before it was "safe enough" for American investigators. The headline for that b$ should read 'COVER UP". An now the Communist News Network (CNN) is helping to cover up, just part of the deception. And the people who work there are either so dumb (which I doubt) or they are willing players. In which case that makes them very evil and hateful to the American people and should be exposed, for deceivers they certainly are. Deception: Malice with forethought. Feeding fuel and frenzy to fire. They are not American – the farthest thing from it – but take advantage of the American system, which many do.
Obama is attempting to bring America to it's knees and should he win he will destroy the America most have known.
When Obama loses I will no longer have to return to this 'rag' and comment on it's deception because it (the "rag') won't matter. Unless the Communist News Network (CNN) begins to promote civil unrest as I think will happen when he does lose.
Fear mongering, eh.
"Or" this is how this guys feels in terms of his religion?
Dude you need help – unplug.
Do you even know what "Communist' means? The early Christian communities were probably some of the best examples in history of true Communism (not the state-centric totalitarianisms that misappropriated the term).
Should I be investing in a 10 mpg Edsel to welcome Mitt?
My loyalty is with Jesus, not Mohamet
considering Muhammad and Jesus are good buddies hangin out with God...your comment is really pointless and dumb....
Jesus is awesome...its stupid hayseed Christians that suck
That's what I'm talkin' about!
And you call us Christians haters?
My 17 year old died of bone cancer...3 days after the doctors removed 72 tumors from his lungs he met and hugged Jesus in his room...those who disbelieve ought to rethink it for sure.
And Jesus answering said unto them, Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and to God the things that are God's. And they marveled at him.
Christian citizens have obligations to government. Allegiance to God is primary, but one ought to do both without neglecting the other. I applaud you for wanting to take communion, but you should vote first. If you are not obedient to God's word, you are out of fellowship with him and communion is pointless.
Christians believe our country has an obligation to care for the poor, the elderly and the unrepresented. We believe in Peace for our country and the World. We believe that all Men are Created Equal. We also believe that it is not OUR JOB to judge others. Are you a Christian?
LanaG, I miss-read your Post, my apologies.
When Jesus said render to Ceasar what is Ceasars the question was put to him about taxes because he was teaching to be of no part of this world( do not participate in human government) and he answered by explaining that the money was Ceasar's property and part of Ceasar's government and if Ceasar wants it back he can have it. The "only" government Christian citizens have obligation to is toward God's government and not man's. However people make the mistake of merging patriotism with Christian beliefs all the time but the bible makes it clear that they are incompatible because you must not be part of this world and you must only have one master.
I'm still trying to find out what ballot Jesus is on.
Did you find Jesus yet, Forrest ?
It amazes me the amount of anger here. So much anger, so little time on earth.
I agree ELong. Christians, especially, should mediate on the fruit of the Spirit. This pastor is lost and he is leading a flock into wrongdoing. I don't feel anger. I feel pity.
Yes, and why is the anger coming from people who "profess" to believe in nothing? Why direct hate and vile comments at people who believe? You rarely see a believer spewing this same vile toward an atheist. I think it comes down more to their elitism- they are just above the simple minded. Yet, they are generally the liberal minded Dems who want tolerance for all, i guess with the exception of believers. Hypocrites.
Mock if you will, but I garantee you will bow before the real king of this world Jesus.
I think jebus will be in shock to find out that I am the king of the world not him
you can worship this jeebus guy if you like, but I guarantee you that you will bow befor His Noodliness and repent to the Flying Spaghetti Monster.
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.