Election Zoom Gatherings Slated

Note: The following was featured in the October 14, 2020 edition of the Sierra Pacific Synod newsletter.

In November, the people of the United States will elect a president and others to public office. This election occurs at a time of change in our national and church life, a time when the Holy Spirit is at work in mysterious ways, and a time when many of our relationships are being changed and challenged.

This election occurs in a time of global pandemic, racial injustice, economic hardship, sickness, suffering, loss and death. For many, this election also occurs in a time of great divisions between family, friends and neighbors.

These divisions can seem deep, wide and potentially injurious to our democracy and our sense of community.

As people of faith, claimed by Jesus, we believe that the role of the church is to support and pray for the well-being of the world, for wise leaders to be raised up, and no matter what the outcome that we will be given the gift of “peace that passes all understanding that guards our hearts and minds through Jesus.” (Philippians 4:7)

Region 2 bishops and leaders – the Sierra Pacific, Pacifica, Southwest California, Rocky Mountain and Grand Canyon Synods of the ELCA – invite all who wish to gather for a time of prayer and reflection to join us as we pray for our nation, for those seeking office, for God’s beloved community, and for rostered ministers as they seek to lead in their specific contexts during these conflicted times.

These livestream gatherings will be:

Sunday, November 1 – 6:00 pm PST

Thursday, November 5 – 6:00 pm PST

Note: Pastors and deacons are invited to open conversation via ZOOM immediately following the Thursday prayer service. You may register HERE.

LEAN Says ‘Yes’ On Question 4

Add Voters’ Bill Of Rights To Nevada Constitution

A number of years ago, when LEAN was LAMN (Lutheran Advocacy and Ministry in Nevada), the organization published a “voter guide” that considered each election’s nonpartisan ballot questions in light of the ELCA Social Statements. That habit has fallen into disuse due to reorganizations and personnel changes, though it may be revived in the future.

However, this election year, voting is such a hot topic that the LEAN advisory board decided to highlight one Nevada ballot question.

Ballot Question 4 proposes enshrining in the Nevada Constitution a “Voters’ Bill of Rights,” to ensure that Nevadans will always be able to raise their voices and votes.

All Nevadans are struggling with how to vote safely in this unusual election year. Though special procedures are in place to ensure everyone can vote—including historically marginalized people—the pandemic, a special legislative session, and a few lawsuits, the rules have spurred several changes, so it’s hard to know what to do.

In the midst of all the chaos, which is similar to what is happening all across the country, the ELCA Church Council issued a Social Message titled, “Government and Civic Engagement in the United States: Discipleship in a Democracy.”  (Social Messages are second in rank behind Social Statements in terms of official church teaching.) The Message notes that fewer than 20 percent of people trust government to do the right thing, but also says that it’s part of the Lutheran vocation to get involved, to not just stand back and be cynical.  The Message encourages many types of involvement, but recognizes that for many people, voting may be the only act of engagement, and that it is very powerful: “This church strongly affirms voting, guided by faith-based values, as an exercise in citizenship.”  It also notes that “We have the responsibility to raise our voices and votes against misuse of government.”

This Voters’ Bill of Rights already exists in Nevada law—it’s been there since 2002. In 2017 the Nevada Legislature proposed the rights be enshrined in the Constitution.  The proposal was confirmed unanimously in 2019. 

The Bill of Rights is a list of eleven items which are not controversial:

  • Receive and cast a ballot that is written in a format that allows the clear identification of candidates and accurately records the voter’s selection of candidates.
  • Have questions concerning voting procedures answered and have an explanation of the procedures for voting posted conspicuously at the polling place.
  • Vote without being intimidated, threatened, or coerced.
  • Vote during any period of early voting or on Election Day if the voter has not yet voted and, at the time that the polls close, the voter is waiting in line to vote at a polling place at which, by law, the voter is entitled to vote.
  • Return a spoiled ballot and receive a replacement ballot.
  • Request assistance with voting, if needed.
  • Receive a sample ballot that is accurate, informative, and delivered in a timely manner as provided by law.
  • Receive instruction on the use of voting equipment during any period of early voting or on Election Day.
  • Have equal access to the elections system without discrimination.
  • Have a uniform, statewide standard for counting and recounting all votes accurately as provided by law.
  • Have complaints about elections and election contests resolved fairly, accurately, and efficiently as provided by law.

Because they’ve been the law for nearly twenty years, placing these provisions into the Constitution will add no expense to the state budget.

In light of ELCA teachings, the LEAN advisory board and officers recommend a “yes” vote on Question 4.