- I am more interested in voting on issues rather than specific candidates.
If I could vote in the upcoming election, I would vote for the same people or issues as my parents.
- The media and poll results highly influence my political opinions.
My life experiences (where I’ve lived, people I have interacted with, etc.) shape how I vote.
- I would vote for a candidate based on their appearance – what they look like, etc.
- A candidate’s technological knowledge (internet use, etc) is very important.
- A candidate’s sexual orientation (if they are gay or straight) would influence my vote for them.
- I think the only way to honor the separation of church and state is to not talk about politics at all at church.
- I think the faith of a candidate is important when deciding who to vote for.
- My faith influences who I would vote for.
Invite youth to read the following scripture passages aloud and then share with them the corresponding comments and questions:
Genesis 17: 1-7
When Abram was 99 years old, God appeared to him … and said, “As for me, this is my covenant with you: You shall be the ancestor of a multitude of nations. No longer shall your name be Abram, but your name shall now be Abraham … I will make you exceedingly fruitful and I will make nations of you, and kings shall come from you. I will establish my covenant between you and me and your offspring after you … to be an everlasting covenant, to be God to you and to your offspring after you.
Notice: Faith and politics were connected in ancient Israel. The ancient people believed that God’s promise to be in relationship with them was intertwined with their political system (anointing kings). The theological claim they are making throughout scripture is that God cares about what they do and how they act, including who they give power to and how they rule.
Psalm 9:7-8 and Psalm 10:16a
The Lord sits enthroned forever. God has established God’s throne for judgment. God judges the world with righteousness; God judges the peoples with equity. . . .The Lord is king forever and ever.
Question: Is this still a good comparison (God – king) to help us understand who God is today? What is important to God in our world today (this question will be answered more fully in later exercises)?
Give therefore to the emperor the things that are the emperor’s, and to God the things that are God’s.
Question: Do you know people of faith who refuse to pay taxes today, as an act of civil disobedience? (because the taxes support war efforts, etc.)?
The Pharisees asked Jesus when the kingdom of God was coming, and he answered, The kingdom of God is not coming with these things that can be observed; nor can we say “Look, here it is!” or There it is!” For, in fact, the kingdom of God is among you.
Notice: Jesus talked a lot about the kingdom of God. He used language and concepts with which the people were familiar (kingdoms). The kingdom of God was completely different from any kingdom the people had known, though. The kingdom of God was a “place” in which God’s values – of righteousness and equity – dominated; completely opposite from any kingdom that the people were familiar with (in which the rich and powerful oppressors ruled). The people had a very hard time understanding the concept of this new kingdom of God.
The kingdom of God is not food and drink but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.
Question: How can we create the kingdom of God and live in a world that would be in line with God’s values today?
PART 3: HOT TOPICS THIS ELECTION SEASON
Consider passing out copies of your local ballot (likely available on the internet from your local board of elections.) Review with youth the ballot issues and candidates,, making special note of interesting facts (i.e. there are actually several people running for president!).
The youth may want to spend more time discussing the specifics of the hot topic current issues in your community. If time permits, ask if any of the youth have any strong feelings – as people of faith - about any of these ballot issues or candidates. This is a question which has the potential for leading into a heated debate. You will need to be careful to allow youth to express themselves respectfully, without allowing the discussion to get out of hand and lose control of the session.
PART 4: FAITH PRIORITIES
Option Two: Invite youth to pick one of their faith priorities and find two other youth who also share that faith priority. As a team, challenge them to brainstorm how they might get involved with this issue. What sorts of things can they do – as teens today – to affect the political process concerning this issue? Have the teams then create a poster that promotes their ideas and then show the posters to the whole group at the end of the discussion.