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From Our Bishops

Election 2011: time to stop, pray and act

By Archbishop Colin R. Johnson

Dear friends:

Where are we going as a nation? Do our country’s public policies, legislation and budgets reflect our values? Do they help to make real our faith in a God of justice, compassion and peace?

These may not be questions that spring to mind when we first wake up, or even during the course of a typical day. But they are questions we should be thinking about and acting on. And they’re questions we should consider as the federal election campaign unfolds. These are the deeper issues that we should ponder before getting caught up in partisan argument or in other election commentary — much of it negative, even downright cynical. Despite what you might hear, public office is a noble calling. I know this well, because my father was a politician who served in the Ontario Legislature for 15 years.

This election provides us with an opportunity to deepen our involvement as an Anglican faith community in the justice issues of our time, and we should be keen to grasp that opportunity. Structures of injustice and inequity prevent all too many of our neighbours from enjoying the dignity that God wants all of us to have, and we as Anglicans have been speaking out about this. In recent months, we have added our voice to those of many other Canadians calling for action on poverty and homelessness. General Synod called for national strategies to address these urgent concerns. We’ve spoken in opposition to plans for stiffer prison sentences and more jails that are more about retribution than restorative justice.

This is a unique moment in our shared lives to think about the best next steps on these, and other, critical issues. Let’s take advantage of it. And let’s not be shy about expressing our views to others, be they friends, neighbours or other Anglicans.

I encourage you to use the election resources and questions for candidates being produced by Anglican and other faith partners. The Primate has highlighted poverty, Indigenous rights, climate change and international development as key priorities in a letter to all Anglicans (pdf). The Evangelical Lutheran Church has produced a “Compassionate Justice Election Resource.” Citizens for Public Justice offers a range of election resources. PWRDF urges Anglicans to quiz candidates on global development issues. You can also use the questions (pdf) provided by the diocesan Social Justice and Advocacy Committee.

I will not tell you who to vote for, but I will tell you, as part of your Christian as well as your civic duty, to vote for the candidate or party that you believe will best serve the values you espouse. Encourage your children and grandchildren to vote as well. If they are unsure about the voting process, please explain it to them.

This is also a time for prayer for those seeking public office. I invite you to use this prayer from the BAS: Lord, keep this nation under your care. Bless the leaders of our land, that we may be a people at peace among ourselves and a blessing to other nations of the earth. Help us elect trustworthy leaders, contribute to the wise decisions for the general welfare, and thus serve you faithfully in our generation to the honour of your holy name; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

In Christ,

Archbishop Colin Johnson