American Christians have a mixed record on political engagement. Christian scripture was used to abolish slavery, but scripture was also used, unjustly, to maintain it. Christian reformers have successfully led fights to expand economic and political opportunity, but powerful religious voices have also employed religious rhetoric as a justification for complacency and quietism. Today, we benefit from a generation of Catholic and evangelical Christians who insisted our national conversation on life was not over, but we also wrestle with the ramifications of some of the tactics that were used to advance that goal.
In light of this history — which is not separate from, but a part of the greater political dysfunction for which all Americans, religious or not, are culpable — many Christians have chosen to either withdraw from politics or emulate the power-hungry, hyper-partisan approach that is dominating so much of our politics today.
Public Faith offers a different Christian voice. Our voice is one of confidence grounded in humility, and of conviction aimed toward the common good. Our approach to politics is distinctly Christian, but our aspiration is to represent a Christian voice, not to claim we are the Christian voice. We take the gospel too seriously to try to confine it to or define it by politics.
The Founding Members of Public Faith, and those who sign up to join us, do not all agree with each other on every issue. We may vote differently this November. We may not agree on the best policy to accomplish our vision on some issues. Those who join us by signing the vision statement will disagree with each other, too. And that is OK.
The reason we are joining together is because of what we do share: a faith in Jesus that affects all we do and think, a belief that politics is a way to love our neighbors and therefore Christians ought to be a force for good in politics, and a desire to see a Christian political voice that is led not by partisan pursuits, but Christian conviction. The Vision Statement is a expression of these ideas. It expresses the core aims our politics should have in this moment over issues such as the dignity of human life, religious liberty, poverty, racial injustice, families, and creation care. Our advocacy will flow directly from the platforms listed in this statement. We will affirm politicians when they act to support these values, denounce contrary acts, and promote dialogue over policies that best accomplish these goals.
We launch Public Faith without a grand, twenty-year plan for political change, or financial support, or a staff. This is a step of faith motivated by our longing for a kind of Christian political posture that has been far too rare this election, and that we believe our nation needs. We have heard from so many who share this sense Christian political discourse must be more consistent, more gracious, more prudent, more truthful, more charitable, and more faithful, and this effort is for you. We ask that you support us by signing up to affirm the Vision Statement, to join your voice with ours and reject the temptations of withdrawal or political idolatry. By affirming this statement and sharing it with friends, you are demonstrating to other Christians that there is a better way forward, you are showing the watching world that evangelical politics is not monolithic, and you are calling public officials to support policies that promote human flourishing and the common good. We ask God for His blessing on this effort, that His will be done, and if it is to be so, that this effort might play a small role in restoring confidence in the value of a Public Faith.