A Statement on the Election

We all woke up this morning to a country that has been revealed to us as more divided then most of us knew.  We woke up this morning to the realization that there are more people than most of us realized who feel themselves to be on the margins of our society.  We woke up this morning to the realization that there are more than most of us realize who do not believe that there is anyone who cares about them.

It would be easy to jump right to taking sides.  It would be easy to gather around us people who voted the same way we did, whichever way that was.  It would be easy for each of us to circle our wagons and pull back into our circle of family and friends and to listen only to voices that reinforce our own beliefs.

I believe that our responsibility as Christians is to do the opposite.  I believe that as followers of Jesus Christ we must seek out those with whom we disagree.  I believe that as followers of Jesus Christ we must truly listen to those who disagree with us.  I believe that as followers of Jesus Christ we must work to find and build places where all of us can stand together.

One of the promises of our Baptismal Covenant is that we will respect the dignity of every human being.  That means that we must respect the dignity of those who voted for Hillary Clinton.  We must respect the dignity of those who voted for Donald Trump.  We must respect the dignity of those who voted for Gary Johnson or Jill Stein.  We must respect the dignity of those who felt themselves unable to vote at all.

The first step in respecting that dignity is to acknowledge that we are all people of faith, that we are all people of good will, that we all, equally, want what is best for this country.  That is what our Baptismal Covenant calls us to do.

We are called to listen to why those who disagree with us feel the way that they do.  We are not called to agree with each other, but we are called to accord each other respect.

There are people in your congregation who are rejoicing that their voices were heard yesterday. There are people in your congregation who are feeling that their most closely held beliefs were rejected yesterday.  There are people in your congregation who are afraid of what the future will bring for them or for those they love. There are people in your congregation who are unsure of what might happen next.  Our congregations must be places for all of those people.

From the days of its founding, the Episcopal Church has prayed for the President of the United States in our liturgy.  I expect that all of the congregations in Western New York will include prayers for Donald, our president-elect in those places in the prayers of the people where we pray for Barack, our president.

In the days to come, I urge you to listen to one another, to pray for one another and to find and build places where we agree and can come together.

I close with the prayer for sound government from the Book of Common Prayer (p. 821)

O Lord our Governor, 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. Lord, keep this nation under your care.

 To the President and members of the Cabinet, to Governors of States, Mayors of Cities, and to all in administrative authority, grant wisdom and grace in the exercise of their duties. Give grace to your servants, O Lord.

 To Senators and Representatives, and those who make our laws in States, Cities and Towns, give courage, wisdom and foresight to provide for the needs of all our people, and to fulfill our obligations in the community of nations. Give grace to your servants, O Lord.

 To the Judges and officers of our Courts give understanding and integrity, that human rights may be safeguarded and justice served. Give grace to your servants, O Lord.

 And finally, teach our people to rely on your strength and to accept their responsibilities to their fellow citizens, that they may elect trustworthy leaders and make wise decisions for the well-being of our society; that we may serve you faithfully in our generation and honor your holy Name.  For yours is the kingdom, O Lord, and you are exalted as head above all.  Amen.

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2 Responses to A Statement on the Election

  1. Beverly Fortune says:

    Great reflection Bishop Franklin. This needs to be said.

  2. Benjamin Phillips says:

    Dear Bishop,

    A radical suggestion for my fellow Episcopalians, if I may. Immediately divorce from ALL political parties immediately. George Washington got it right in 1791 when he declared that political parties are a bad idea in the first place. Political platforms –even when they’re coherent– are, at best, a nuisance to our Baptismal Covenant as I understand it, and, at worst, they run counter to it. The disaffected among us whose anger has been so shockingly garnered by this election cry out for RADICAL, not passive, Christian hospitality. It’s hard to see how we can extend radical hospitality tainted by partisan politics.

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