Politics in Faith Communities
The First Amendment of our Constitution states: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…” Under the Internal Revenue Code, 501(c)(3) organizations are prohibited from directly or indirectly participating in, or intervening in, any political campaign on behalf of (or in opposition to) any candidate for elective public office. In light of this amendment and regulation, and in the context of the political division in our country, how do we conduct ourselves as people of faith who are also responsible citizens?
Let's Get Started!
Why We're Here (~10 min)
Share your name, where you live, what drew you here, and if this is your first conversation.
How We'll Engage (~5 min)
These will set the tone of our conversation; participants may volunteer to take turns reading them aloud. (Click here for the full conversation agreements.)
- Be curious and listen to understand.
- Show respect and suspend judgment.
- Note any common ground as well as any differences.
- Be authentic and welcome that from others.
- Be purposeful and to the point.
- Own and guide the conversation.
What We’ll Talk About
Optional: a participant can keep track of time and gently let people know when their time has elapsed.
Getting to Know Each Other (~10 min)
Each participant can take 1-2 minutes to answer one of these questions:
- What sense of purpose / mission / duty guides you in your life?
- What would your best friend say about who you are and what inspires you?
- What are your hopes and concerns for your community and/or the country?
The Intersection of Faith and Politics (~40 min)
One participant can volunteer to read the paragraph at the top of the web page.
Take ~2 minutes each to answer a question below without interruption or crosstalk. The group may choose to have everyone answer: A) whichever question speaks to them individually or B) the same question with an option to pass. Once everyone has answered, the group may take a few minutes for any clarifying or follow up questions/responses. Continue exploring with other topic or related questions as time allows.
- What does separation of religion and state mean to you when you gather for worship?
- How and where do you want to talk about the pressing issues of our communities and country?
- What does “political” mean to you?
- What does “social justice” mean to you?
- What community worship experience affirms your faith and helps you live into your values in your daily life?
- Has there been a time when you’ve seen merit in a position you disagree with?
Reflecting on the Conversation (~15 min)
Take 2 minutes to answer one of the following questions:
- In one sentence, share what was most meaningful or valuable to you in the experience of this Living Room Conversation?
- What new understanding or common ground did you find within this topic?
- Has this conversation changed your perception of anyone in this group, including yourself?
- Name one important thing that was accomplished here.
- Is there a next step you would like to take based upon the conversation you just had?