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.
A few questions should help shed light on the relationship between religion and rational thought.
The completely absurd theory that all 7,000,000,000 human beings are simultaneously being supervised 24 hours a day, every day of their lives by an immortal, invisible being for the purposes of reward or punishment in the “afterlife” comes from the field of:
(c) Economics; or
You are about 70% likely to believe the entire Universe began less than 10,000 years ago with only one man, one woman and a talking snake if you are a:
(c) NASA astronomer; or
I have convinced myself that gay $ex is a choice and not genetic, but then have no explanation as to why only gay people have ho.mo$exual urges. I am
(a) A gifted psychologist
(b) A well respected geneticist
(c) A highly educated sociologist
(d) A Christian with the remarkable ability to ignore inconvenient facts.
I honestly believe that, when I think silent thoughts like, “please god, help me pass my exam tomorrow,” some invisible being is reading my mind and will intervene and alter what would otherwise be the course of history in small ways to help me. I am
(a) a delusional schizophrenic;
(b) a naïve child, too young to know that that is silly
(c) an ignorant farmer from Sudan who never had the benefit of even a fifth grade education; or
(d) your average Christian
Millions and millions of Catholics believe that bread and wine turns into the actual flesh and blood of a dead Jew from 2,000 years ago because:
(a) there are obvious visible changes in the condiments after the Catholic priest does his hocus pocus;
(b) tests have confirmed a divine presence in the bread and wine;
(c) now and then their god shows up and confirms this story; or
(d) their religious convictions tell them to blindly accept this completely fvcking absurd nonsense.
I believe that an all powerful being, capable of creating the entire cosmos watches me have $ex to make sure I don't do anything "naughty". I am
(a) A victim of child molestation
(b) A r.ape victim trying to recover
(c) A mental patient with paranoid delusions
(d) A Christian
The only discipline known to often cause people to kill others they have never met and/or to commit suicide in its furtherance is:
(c) Archeology; or
What is it that most differentiates science and all other intellectual disciplines from religion:
(a) Religion tells people not only what they should believe, but what they are morally obliged to believe on pain of divine retribution, whereas science, economics, medicine etc. has no “sacred cows” in terms of doctrine and go where the evidence leads them;
(b) Religion can make a statement, such as “there is a composite god comprised of God the Father, Jesus and the Holy Spirit”, and be totally immune from experimentation and challenge, whereas science can only make factual assertions when supported by considerable evidence;
(c) Science and the scientific method is universal and consistent all over the World whereas religion is regional and a person’s religious conviction, no matter how deeply held, is clearly nothing more than an accident of birth; or
(d) All of the above.
If I am found wandering the streets flagellating myself, wading into a filth river, mutilating my child’s genitals or kneeling down in a church believing that a being is somehow reading my inner thoughts and prayers, I am likely driven by:
(a) a deep psychiatric issue;
(b) an irrational fear or phobia;
(c) a severe mental degeneration caused by years of drug abuse; or
(d) my religious belief.
Who am I? I don’t pay any taxes. I never have. Any money my organization earns is tax free and my own salary is also tax free, at the federal, state and local level. Despite contributing nothing to society, but still enjoying all its benefits, I feel I have the right to tell others what to do. I am
(a) A sleazy Wall Street banker
(b) A mafia boss
(c) A drug pusher; or
(d) A Catholic Priest, Protestant Minister or Jewish Rabbi.
What do the following authors all have in common – Jean Paul Sartre, Voltaire, Denis Diderot, Victor Hugo, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Immanuel Kant, David Hume, René Descartes, Francis Bacon, John Milton, John Locke, and Blaise Pascal:
(a) They are among the most gifted writers the World has known;
(b) They concentrated on opposing dogma and opening the human mind and spirit to the wonders of free thought and intellectual freedom;
(c) They were intimidated by the Catholic Church and put on the Church’s list of prohibited authors; or
(d) All of the above.
The AIDS epidemic will kill tens of millions in poor African and South American countries before we defeat it. Condoms are an effective way to curtail its spread. As the Pope still has significant influence over the less educated masses in these parts of the World, he has exercised this power by:
(a) Using some of the Vatican’s incomprehensible wealth to educate these vulnerable people on health family planning and condom use;
(b) Supporting government programs that distribute condoms to high risk groups;
(c) Using its myriad of churches in these regions to distribute condoms; or
(d) Scaring people into NOT using condoms, based upon his disdainful and aloof view that it is better that a person die than go against the Vatican’s position on contraceptive use.
BULL SH IT
Way too much time on your hands. Go out and help someone.
you do realize that nobody will read a post that long, right?
Yea, stupid lazy religious people don't take the time to read much of anything that makes sense. Just read the buyBULL and keep your head buried in the Bronze age
no, i liked your top 10 post, very good, but this one was just way too long...
you have to know the reality of the world you're working in, and people are lazy, or at least you have to realize the different mindsets people come to different situations, and work with it to win the battle, not simply say 'i am right and you are wrong' and never win anyone over or get your point across
I read it!
I am the only the only true god! Who is this Jesus and his christans that you speak of? I only took a little nap...
Sorry about the theft of fire, dude! Turning off my computer now!
"My vote is for Jesus" He couldn't do any worse than the last two presidents....
Poor leadership is Gods curse on a nation.
Those who pray will have a wonderful and prosperous day, those who don't ..... You get my point. Evolution yes. No creator, come on people. A higher power set the universe in motion. Even the most gifted minds still can't explain what or who took all of the mass in the universe which existed in a infinitely small point and expanded it in less that a millisecond into a vastly, infinitely large space we call the universe. That force is my higher power. The sooner you accept that the more peaceful and rewarding your life will become. If you have a better explanation, I'm all ears.
Top Ten Signs You're a Christian
10 – You vigorously deny the existence of thousands of gods claimed by other religions, but feel outraged when someone denies the existence of yours.
9 – You feel insulted and "dehumanized" when scientists say that people evolved from other life forms, but you have no problem with the Biblical claim that we were created from dirt.
8 – You laugh at polytheists, but you have no problem believing in a Triune God.
7 – Your face turns purple when you hear of the "atrocities" attributed to Allah, but you don't even flinch when hearing about how God/Jehovah slaughtered all the babies of Egypt in "Exodus" and ordered the elimination of entire ethnic groups in "Joshua" including women, children, and trees!
6 – You laugh at Hindu beliefs that deify humans, and Greek claims about gods sleeping with women, but you have no problem believing that the Holy Spirit impregnated Mary, who then gave birth to a man-god who got killed, came back to life and then ascended into the sky.
5 – You are willing to spend your life looking for little loopholes in the scientifically established age of Earth (few billion years), but you find nothing wrong with believing dates recorded by Bronze Age tribesmen sitting in their tents and guessing that Earth is a few generations old.
4 – You believe that the entire population of this planet with the exception of those who share your beliefs – though excluding those in all rival sects – will spend Eternity in an infinite Hell of Suffering. And yet consider your religion the most "tolerant" and "loving."
3 – While modern science, history, geology, biology, and physics have failed to convince you otherwise, some idiot rolling around on the floor speaking in "tongues" may be all the evidence you need to "prove" Christianity.
2 – You define 0.01% as a "high success rate" when it comes to answered prayers. You consider that to be evidence that prayer works. And you think that the remaining 99.99% FAILURE was simply the will of God.
1 – You actually know a lot less than many atheists and agnostics do about the Bible, Christianity, and church history – but still call yourself a Christian.
AMEN and AMEN!
Jesus also wanted nothing to do with those 47% non-wealthy, he preached a gospel of riches, power and war. A gospel of hatred and the need to judge others who are different, poor, disadvantaged. So vote GOP! Woo Hooo!!
Poop in one hand... pray in the other... which one will fill up first?
You do THAT in your hand??????
The world would be a lot better and happier place if people would give jesus, mohamed, etc. a REST.
I would like to see a candidate that doesn't believe in ancient mythology and ignorant superst!tions.
Just the word mythology is offensive. Let's call this christianity what it is. A religion for slaves that piggy backed on a civil war and Constantine need for man power. The lame Jesus character is nothing but a mickey mouse for slaves. You want a real god, worship Sparticus and let the whole jesus lies rest.
This election day I am proclaiming my loyalty to Mars the god of War.
Romney seems to like war.
No, clearly a vote for Obama is a vote for gun violence. I mean actual Mars, you mean jewy banker stuff. But you are right Romney is clearly a money muslim oil jew who will sell arms to towel heads. I want real war though like white riots.
I'm an agnostic, so I say this without any kind of religious bias, but you atheists are far more arrogant than any religious zealot. Why do you leave incendiary comments on these articles? Why do you read them? Is it just so you can belittle and ridicule people? You seem awfully angry at someone you purport to not believe in. For me, the truest words ever spoken came not from the Bible but from wise old Socrates, "True wisdom is knowing that you know nothing.". Keep that in mind the next time you are pushing your non-beliefs on others.
@ Brandy. Thank you for shedding sensibility and civility into the conversation.
Agnostic = Coward.
And arrogant? The entire world is populated by people who think that the UNIVERSE was created personally for them, with NO evidence to support the idea. Arrogant? Faith is the WORST way to approach ANY issue. It is pure ignorance and stupidity cloaked in completely undeserved respect. It gives power to the few who know how to wield it.
Brandy, its not their atheism but rather their elitism and hypocrisy that is so very evident. They are truly a minority in that sense.
"knowing that you know nothing"
And then creating an entire system around that nothing to control billions of people. Atheists are the only truly honest people on the planet. We are truly humble before the true nature of the universe and don't claim to know anything beyond what can be proven to be a part of nature. You're position is one of moral cowardice.
How are non-believers hypocrites? What do we espouse that we do not follow? Unlike the religious who are completely consistent...
@malcolmr, thank you for proving my point. You believe in nothing, stand for nothing, yet you like so many other vile haters here accuse me of moral cowardice. I give you my best Joe. Biden imitation: snarky laughter.
I see the anger and hate slip out on both sides of the issue. Some atheists lash out from time to time and some believers lash out at about the same rate. I try not to let the issue get to me too much, but I'm guilty of lashing out as well. I don't hate a deity, or a belief in that deity. What I care about is what people do with their belief.
@MalcolmR, read the comments for yourself. I am not questioning your "belief" which i guess is based on a negative since you "believe" in nothing. My point and Brandy's original comment was that the vast majority of comments made by your fellow atheists were condescending and elitist in nature. We get it, you don't believe in anything. Why then go out of your way to ridicule and demean those who do believe as if they are not intelligent? As i stated, I find that to be typical of elitist liberals and quite hypocritical since liberals are constantly "preaching" tolerance. So maybe you really smart atheists can just be tolerant of us non intelligent believers.
You're not an agostic you dip shit. You're just a Christian who has doubts but doesn't have the balls to admit it.
I don't think the vast majority of either sides posts have been hate-filled. I don't think believers are less intelligent anymore than I think non-believers are more intelligent. People should and do believe whatever they want. I hardly think either sides arguments have converted anyone.
My problem lies not with the belief itself, but what is done with that belief.
Reblogged this on My Hopebox and commented:
Worth the read. I wish I could say that I was joining him in NOT watching the results come in Tuesday night, but I know I won't be able to stay away.
remember, Jesus loved the rich and hated gays – that's where your vote should go Tuesday!
And apparently he was totally OK with Heresy too.
Anyone who really believes that some creator of the universe came down to an illiterate, barbaric part of the middle east 2000 years ago and knocked up a virgin for a human sacrifice as part of a divine plan is what I call "retarded". As Hitchens said, these people should be on a street corner, holding a cardboard sign, and selling pencils from a cup. Not only is this philosophy not compelling, but it's just downright stupid!
Stupid followed to its logical conclusion becomes atheism.
Well said. Christians have to be the most gullible people on Earth.
I find it hard to believe that you just ARE with no rhyme or reason. Your existence has more meaning.
"Stupid followed to its logical conclusion becomes religious zealotry"
There, fixed it for you. You're welcome.
Atheism does not mean that people think their life has no meaning. I go to work, be the best parent I can, have fun hanging out with friends and family, read, play music from time to time. Just because I don't think I'm going to some Magical Land when I die does not mean I find life without meaning.
May I say (even as an agnostic) that this is one of the few sane articles I have read by any minister, and beautifully done.
Instead of voting, they're going to church. Wow, then they'll complain when things aren't going their way, like EVERYONE does when they don't vote.
As Friedrich Nietzsche Has said; god is dead
Yes we killed him by curing the sick, by planting kidney, heart, liver, etc. in patient’s body to keep him/her alive; the patient that god had decided to kill.
We killed god with theory of “Natural Selection”, by excavating fossils, by inventing all kinds of gadgets that god did not want us to have. It began with the invention and manufacture of stone tools. Since then we constantly and steadily have been choking god to death. To me and 25% of people on Earth god is dead but unfortunately it is still breathing inside the mind of other 75%, what a pity.
It's a clear choice between Jesus and Ayn Rand.
Unfortunately those poor fools don't know who Ayn Rand was. Folks she was an Athiest whose ruthless Win at all cost Economic Philosophy is the Bible of today's GOP.
only if Jesus was running.
Shame! Shame in those who deride someone's faith. Those who out faith in only money or man will only find salvation when it is to late! Shame!
religion is only worthy of ridicule.
Free people do not need salvation. Slaves do
I don't deride the faith. I deride what is done in the name of that faith.
Right and we are all slaves to sin, we all need salvation
Sorry, but I have no respect for stupidity. And it deserves none.
You have faith in ritualistic cannibalism, there is probably still a bo*ogey man under your bed too. Grow up, think for yourself. Amen
Why are people so unwilling to say 'hey, I'm a human, I make mistakes, the best thing I can do is to own up to them and try to do better the next time this situation comes up'?
There is ONLY one true god and that is the Flying Spaghetti Monster (FSM) and his followers (pastafarians) worship him and love him (al dente)
Spaghetti molds and rots very quickly,God is eternal. Guess which i'll be choosing.
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.