Stepping forward as a public church that witnesses boldly to God’s love for all that God has created…

He has told you, O mortal, what is good;
and what does the Lord require of you
but to do justice, and to love kindness,
and to walk humbly with your God?

~Micah 6:8

As a public church called to witness to God’s love for all God has created, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) affirms the importance of participation in society by all people, including people of faith. The ELCA social statement, The Church in Society: A Lutheran Perspective, which guides our public speech and ethical actions, commits us to “work with and on behalf of the poor, the powerless, and those who suffer, using [this church’s] power and influence with political and economic decision-making bodies to develop and advocate policies that seek to advance justice, peace and the care of creation.”

Scripture reveals God’s presence in all realms of life, including political life. This church understands government as a means through which God can work to preserve creation and build a more peaceful and just social order in a sinful world. The electoral process is one way in which we live out our affirmation of baptism to “serve all people, following the example of our Lord Jesus,” and “to strive for justice and peace in all the earth.”

An important part of faithful civic engagement is abiding by the law: any participation by churches in the electoral process must be strictly nonpartisan, transparent, and legal. Following and engaging with the issues that come up during the electoral process is an excellent way to get to know our local and global neighbors and their concerns, and become better equipped to do justice, love kindness, and walk humbly with God through our actions in the public square.

Our Christian faith compels us to attend to the world through the lens of our relationship to God and to one another. As a public church, we have a responsibility to step outside our comfort zones and challenge ourselves to address issues that affect families, communities, and neighbors throughout the world. As a church body, the ELCA uses its prophetic voice boldly to address important political, social, and economic issues that affect local and global communities. This work grows out of our theological understanding of God at work in the world and is articulated in the social statements of this church, which you can find at www.elca.org/socialstatements on the Web.

The issues addressed on this web page grow out of these social statements and can be raised with candidates in all forums. Each community will have its own particular issues of concern beyond those on the national and global scale, of course, which require careful thought. These issue briefs are intended to be a resource for us as we engage in conversation, Bible study, reflection on Lutheran theology, and discussion of the ELCA social statements, as well as our personal, prayerful discernment about how we will vote.

It is my hope that this information will be a useful tool as you and your congregation wrestle with faithful responses to difficult issues in this election cycle and those to come. Remember that voting is the first step towards faithful civic participation; many more opportunities to use your voice on behalf of those in need are available at www.elca.org/advocacy.


May the Holy Spirit guide you as you consider how to use the voice given to you by God and the vote given to you by this country.

In God’s grace,

The Reverend Mark S. Hanson
Presiding Bishop
Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

Notable Social Justice Quotes (courtesy www.ONE.org):

“Poverty is the worst form of violence.” ~Mahatma Gandhi

“It is poverty to decide that a child must die so that you may live as you wish.” ~Mother Theresa

“The curse of poverty has no justification in our age. It is socially as cruel and blind as the practice of cannibalism at the dawn of civilization, when men ate each other because they had not yet learned to take food from the soil or to consume the abundant animal life around them. The time has come for us to civilize ourselves by the total, direct and immediate abolition of poverty.” ~Martin Luther King, Jr.

“The US cannot win the war on terrorism unless we confront the social and political roots of poverty.” ~Colin Powell

“It’s not about charity, it’s about justice.” ~Bono