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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. JimM

    This guy is exactly why we have a separation of church and state.

    November 4, 2012 at 7:13 am |
    • Ronald Regonzo

      Well kiss that phony separation good bye under President Romney. Romney / Ryan 2012

      November 4, 2012 at 7:21 am |
  2. jemzinthekop

    I'm voting for the guy the oak tree in my back yard tells me too.... that is about as rooted (like my pun?) in reality as Jesus.

    November 4, 2012 at 7:13 am |
    • John Q Public

      Careful, you're likely to find that tree blown over into your house.

      November 4, 2012 at 7:31 am |
  3. David Evan Karasek

    A far less gentle Jesus threw the money changers out of the temple, and called out the religious leaders of his time as hypocrites. What would he think about the billion dollars spent on this election instead of caring for the millions in need of food, housing and basic health care?

    November 4, 2012 at 7:11 am |
    • John Q Public

      Exactly, that applies on both sides equally. How much do those union thug leaders make a year? How much do they have to give? How can Buffet whine and cry that rich people aren't paying their "fair share" when he's suing the IRS to keep from paying, and refuses to willingly pay himself?

      It's ashame Obama didn't take McCain up on his offer in 2008 to campaign ONLY on federal campaign dollars instead of using the $1B outside special interest dollars he received, further inflaming those that caused the rise of the SuperPACs.

      November 4, 2012 at 7:30 am |
  4. Sparkyinnyc

    I am a Former Christian.
    Given all the hatred, and Hypocrisy I can no longer associate with those who call themselves Christians these days.
    When I was younger, Christian's loved everyone, They did not shove their religion and way of life down everyone's throats. They did not try to sway the legal rights afforded to people
    They did not interfere with politics and Elections.
    The Church has changed.
    I think it is time for their tax free status to end.

    I hope the church can sort itself out. If there are Christians remaining of the old style – It is time for them to address the hatred and political ways of their brethren. Otherwise fewer and fewer will want to belong to the modern day KKK

    November 4, 2012 at 7:11 am |
    • truth be told

      There is no such thing as a former Christian, once you are in Gods care you are kept, you may be a former hypocrite, a former church attender but you were never a Christian.

      November 4, 2012 at 7:19 am |
    • goinmad2009

      If you stopped being a Christian becoz of people then you really weren't a Christian to begin with. Your loyalty was to Jesus, not to individuals in a church. Too bad for you. I hope someday you see realize that if you were looking for perfect church. Then you yourself couldn't be part of it becoz you aren't perfect. I in no way condone the failings of churches. But in no way can I have the audacity to become self righteous enough to reject Christ coz u didn't like some individuals. Good luck.

      November 4, 2012 at 7:21 am |
    • John Q Public

      You are so right, I'm sorry you just haven't found the real Church yet. You're correct we do need to speak out against the current hatred and vitriol that come from those who claim to be Christians but just like the corrupt Catholics and their actions during the crusades, are anything but. However, our ways are supposed to be Grace, and moving from Grace, so you will not see us stirring up trouble as that's not what we're instructed to do, rather to make peace.

      November 4, 2012 at 7:24 am |
    • whitman30

      Just because he said he isn't a Christian, doesn't mean that he doesn't believe in the Messiah; it probably means he doesn't believe in the church or people, and I get what you are talking about. Many will vote for a NonChristian- Romney over Obama, simply because Obama is black, which isn't very Christian but that isn't God's fault- remember few are chosen, which means many of the people who sit in church every Sunday aren't really followers.

      November 4, 2012 at 7:57 am |
  5. Maxwell

    Will CNN stop covering this nonsense. Articles about people making election choices based on fairy tales, ignoring science, logic etc is the purview of Fox and Fools.

    November 4, 2012 at 7:11 am |
    • Scott

      These kind of stories are destroying CNN's credibility. I found this as the front page story on the website. To lead with a story about people letting their belief in a fairy tale character affect the way that they participate in democracy is utter nonsense. Sure a majority of Americans claim to be religious, but data clearly shows that those who actually practice religion are very much in the minority, albeit a vocal minority. I'm afraid CNN is beginning to go the way of FOX.

      November 4, 2012 at 7:19 am |
    • John Q Public

      Careful where you point that finger. Definition of a fool: The fool hath said in his heart, there is no God.

      November 4, 2012 at 7:20 am |
  6. Harrison

    This should be a no-brainer for Christians. They have baptized Christian canditate and they have a Non- Christian candidate to choose from. One who has spent his life in public service putting the interests of the poor, elderly and un-represented over the interests of the wealthy and powerful. The other candidate's life so far represents the exact opposite.
    The Holy Bible is clear as day on the subject of Heresy and those last four verses in the Book of Revelation are emphatic. Christians need to remember that none of this changes suddenly because we like or dislike political candidates.

    November 4, 2012 at 7:10 am |
  7. God hates New Jersey

    Where was your God and Jesus when Sandy destroyed the coast, leaving many without power, heat, food, or homes?

    November 4, 2012 at 7:10 am |
  8. Daniela

    I think this is a great reminder to stop the "cult" mentality many people are developing with their political affiliations. These are human beings running for office who are just like you and me. They should not be worshiped (or destroyed in word) and the focus on what is really important is lost in the world of politics if you ask me. I find it all to be ridiculous and cannot stand when people go off with their opinions on it. I'll put my trust in the Lord...

    November 4, 2012 at 7:10 am |
  9. at thomas

    jesus doesnt need a birth certificate because he isnt black... or is he?

    November 4, 2012 at 7:09 am |
  10. mlblogslotus65

    The acceptance of America, maybe the "resignation" to the idea that a religion, specifically a Judeo-Christian model should control the direction of policy is not at all, in any way different from the rule of the Taliban.
    America needs to PLEASE consider that religion is good and needed for many, but also comes in different flavors and all those faiths need to be EQUALLY supported by our federal government to insure our right to (or NOT to) practice the religion we accept for our own lives.
    That brings me to my second point, which is:
    Religion needs to be defined ONLY within the boundaries of a persons individuality. Used only for personal or professional growth and inner peace and/or penance. Once a believer exits their own PERSONAL spaces and into PUBLIC spaces, religion should be held as a very dear and cherished PERSONAL issue, and carefully used to guide ones own not dictate another's existence.

    November 4, 2012 at 7:09 am |
  11. Jand Meditz

    Outside of the Holy (c)atholic Church, I look for what I want in a candidate or leadership: (1) example of Jesus (2) best expert, AND, I look for what I don't want in a candidate or leaderhip: (3) goals or signs a candidate wants to change the morals of a Church.

    November 4, 2012 at 7:09 am |
  12. ObamaJoe

    Latter day Fake = Mitt

    November 4, 2012 at 7:07 am |
    • Rena

      Try living the Word instead of quoting it. Obama spent 24 years in a church that spewed hatred and then turned on his mentor when the truth came out. That's about as fake as you can get.

      November 4, 2012 at 9:18 am |
  13. Caron

    I hope this is the first step toward taking religion out of politics except to the extent that it guides the hand of the voter at the polling booth. The bully pulpit is for politicians - the pulpit is for pastors. I am tired of being preached at and dictated to by religious zealots who are plitical activists. They do not even remotely sound like they know the teachings of Christ, His love and His compassion. They just sound like hate behind fear. You see, I believe Christ was a liberal. A "give to the poor" kind of guy who loved everyone equally, who brought people together in love. I don't see that in politics. Politics is fear driven.

    November 4, 2012 at 7:07 am |
  14. whitman30

    Well, then you must be voting for Obama because he is the only candidate that says he is a Christian in the presidential race. Obama has been opening his rallies with an invocation. He says he is a Christian; however the other guy says h is a Mormon, which isn't a Christian.

    November 4, 2012 at 7:06 am |
    • John Q Public

      Anyone can say they're Christian but that's not what matters, it's in our actions where it shows. I'm sure there are some Muslims out there I'd rather vote for, who live by better Christian style values and care more about this nation than the President, who claims to be Christian.

      November 4, 2012 at 7:12 am |
    • at thomas

      except a mormon is a christian.. a christian who believes jesus talked to an american through cuecards read inside of a hat

      November 4, 2012 at 7:12 am |
    • Cane89

      Just because he says that he is a Christian means nothing; his actions and policies tell a different story about Obama. I am an African American Christian and will vote for Romney.

      November 4, 2012 at 7:13 am |
    • whitman30

      Mormons aren't Christians. They believe in something entirely different than a traditional church. They believe: dark skinned people are cursed, the second coming will be in Missouri, they will become a god- like Jesus, that Satan and Jesus were brothers, and they do not believe in the Trinity. It is a sector that broke away from Christianity and created their own stuff. According to Christianity- it is the spirit of antiChrist. It is a totally different religion much like the Muslims, who took the Bible and changed it. They believe in Jesus too, as a prophet, etc....

      November 4, 2012 at 7:43 am |
  15. Mike.

    It's evident that Santa Claus or the Easter Bunny has a better grasp of domestic and international affairs than Jesus, though Jesus, the precursor to today's scruffy, counter-culture, hippie-emo would probably give the Easter Bunny a good fight for the gay vote.

    November 4, 2012 at 7:04 am |
  16. Howie76

    Tax the churches!

    November 4, 2012 at 7:04 am |
  17. rs1201

    I'm amazed but then maybe not so much that CNN would print this drivel. With all the events happening right here in our country and around the world...CNN with all its "wisdom" chose to have this nonsense at the heart of its website...wow...

    November 4, 2012 at 7:03 am |
    • rose

      No, I think that CNN is desperate and can see that religious groups/people are NOT going to vote for NOBAMA. They are trying to convince the ones that can be brain washed (young people) to vote for NOBAMA by criticizing the fact that they are voting against him. Let's be real here: we ARE a political society and social issues like unemployment, freedoms, liberties are important to all of us, despite our creeds. NOBAMA has been desguised as the "I care about you people" when we all really know how BIG he has failed this country. We need CHANGE and we need to move FORWARD but with somebody else. We already know what NOBAMA could have done and didn't do. This is like a woman in a relationship with a man who beats her and keeps on promising it is not going to happen anymore. We ALL KNOW it will continue happening. We need a new president and if Romney does not do anything in 4 years we will find somebody who can.

      November 4, 2012 at 7:14 am |
  18. Willa45

    Prayer is important but religion should not be used as a political platform and neither should an individual's personal religious beliefs. It's the reason why in the United States we have Separation of Church and State.That's why it's wrong for a candidate to use religious issues just to get votes. It also means that when you go to the voting polls, Religion has to take a back seat and (non-religious) platforms should take precedence. It's OK to pray for your candidate to win, but a person's particular brand of faith (Christian, Mormon, Muslim, Buddhist, Jewish, Catholic, or Atheist etc.) should never be the deciding factor on who you vote for. It's just as wrong as a political candidate who would use your religion or your religious issues just to get your vote.

    November 4, 2012 at 7:02 am |
    • mlblogslotus65

      It's also why the media needs to stop boldly promoting the acceptance of a potential/eventual Cristian state right here... CNN.

      November 4, 2012 at 7:11 am |
  19. Mark

    Just u tube "Mitt Romney speaking about Mormon faith"

    November 4, 2012 at 7:01 am |
    • ObamaJoe

      Latter day Fake = Mitt

      November 4, 2012 at 7:06 am |
  20. Thomas

    Before Jesus can run he will need to produce his birth certificate.

    November 4, 2012 at 7:01 am |
    • allenwoll

      EXCELLENT comment ! ! !

      He will ALSO need to produce HIMSELF ! ! !

      November 4, 2012 at 7:08 am |
    • at thomas

      jesus wont need to provide anything to please trump because jesus isnt black... or is he...

      November 4, 2012 at 7:14 am |
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About this blog

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.