As Canadians prepared to go to the polls on October 19 to vote in a federal election, members of one church were offered the opportunity to think through the considerations Christians should use in deciding how to cast their votes.
On the eve of the election, about 90 people gathered at West End Christian Reformed Church in Edmonton, Alta., to listen and ask questions of an expert panel moderated by West End pastor Bob De Moor.
Mark Huyser-Wierenga, a criminal lawyer and crown prosecutor for the government of Alberta, is a member of Fellowship CRC. He represented and spoke about Citizens for Public Justice (CPJ), a nonpartisan, faith-based organization that grew out of the CRC in the sixties. He pointed out the rich resources CPJ has for voters. One of those is the election kit it produces before elections, outlining what it sees as key election issues. Faithful citizenship, CPJ says, demands that we design, debate, and promote policies and practices that reflect God’s call for love, justice, and the flourishing of creation.
Michael De Moor, also a member of Fellowship CRC, is an associate professor of social philosophy in politics, history, and economics at The King’s University in Edmonton. De Moor walked participants through passages from Scripture that can help provide political orientation. For example, expanding on God’s concern for widows, orphans, and strangers, a repeated refrain in the Old Testament, what political party will make life better for people who are vulnerable in Canadian society?
Geoff and Larissa Vogan, members of West End CRC with four young children, were among those who gathered to hear the panel and ask questions. Although he had expected more of an analysis of party policies and platforms, Geoff said, “It definitely made me want to vote. It made me more conscious of the social responsibility of voting.” For his wife, however, listening to De Moor changed her mind about who to vote for. “He gave me criteria. I knew I couldn’t support the current government mostly because of the way it was handling the Syrian refugee crisis.” Feeling more informed and confident as she went to vote, Vogan stated afterward, “I felt good this time about voting.”
The Vogans appreciated the closing reminders from the panel: Vote, but don’t stop with voting. Stay informed. Organize with groups, meet with people you don’t agree with, meet with elected representatives, find out where their heart is, be involved in the shared, common life of your city.
Participants left with echoes in their ears of Jeremiah 29:7, one of the texts quoted by De Moor: “Seek the welfare of the city to which I have sent you, and pray to the Lord on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare.”