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An election resource from the Centre for Public Ethics at Waterloo Lutheran Seminary.

What You and Your Faith Community Can Do

The people of Ontario go to the polls on June 7, 2018, to choose their next provincial government. The Centre for Public Ethics has prepared these bulletins to help members of faith communities discuss issues and deliberate on their electoral choices.

What Can My Church or Faith Community Do in the Provincial Election?

There are many ways your congregation or faith community can get involved in both the campaign and the election. Some people may just want to make an informed choice on for whom to vote, while others might want to be more directly involved.

Your faith community may want to provide educational opportunities for young adults, first-time voters, and even for seasoned voters. Faith communities can model events for voters by being safe and civil centres for moral discussions and deliberation.

The following information provides some ideas on how you and your faith community can be involved in the election. The suggestions have been ranked according to their level of engagement. You can choose the level of engagement you feel most comfortable with. There are a few things to remember as you consider your involvement:

  • Individuals can promote particular candidates and are allowed to share with others the candidate they support.
    • Note: It might not be appropriate for individuals to do so — in effect campaign for particular candidates — at faith group/church events.
  • Faith communities can host public events (e.g., all candidates meetings).
    • Note: Faith communities must remain non-partisan. A faith community or its leader should not endorse a candidate on behalf of the faith group. Faith leaders are not telling their members whom to vote for, but rather are encouraging and helping their members participate in exercising their franchise and fulfilling a civic responsibility.
  • Faith communities have a public responsibility to host events in a civil, safe and hospitable manner. Faith communities should model civility in the way people discuss contentious issues.

Individuals

Low Engagement

  • Read the campaign platforms.
  • Be informed on the issues by following the news media.
  • Make a financial contribution to a candidate/party (Note: you can donate money without becoming a member).

Medium Engagement

  • Attend an all candidates meeting.
  • Organize a small group to attend meetings, and invite youth and friends to accompany you.
  • Email/write your views to candidates.
  • Follow election social media (e.g. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram).

High Engagement

  • Become a member of a political party.
  • Volunteer on a campaign.
  • Write a guest column or letter to the editor.
  • Attend all candidates meetings alone or with other members of your faith community.
  • Ask candidates questions through social media.

Faith Communities

Low Engagement

  • Pray for candidates and the party leaders by name in your public worship events.
  • Distribute elections materials.
  • Host an orientation for young adult voters using Elections Ontario materials.

Medium Engagement

  • Publicize local and regional all candidates meetings.
  • Invite each of the local candidates to speak to your leadership or community (e.g. at social event or "coffee hour" after worship, to the youth group etc.).
  • Invite a politician to talk to a religious education class about why faith is important to the elections and politics in general.

High Engagement

  • Organize a public event at your place of worship.
  • Organize a group of youth or young adults to visit each candidate at their campaign office to discuss the issues.
  • Provide an orientation on how to cast your ballot.

With Community Groups

Low Engagement

  • Attend events on issues hosted by political parties or community groups.

Medium Engagement

  • Invite community groups to come and speak about how they are affected by the issues (e.g. low-income groups, Indigenous peoples, visible minorities, etc.).

High Engagement

  • Attend public events or media conferences with community groups to help support their positions.

A Prayer for Ontario

For creation where many long for the good earth, clean water, and a clear sky, For food where many are hungry,
For a home where many are homeless,
For a livelihood where many still can’t find work, For neighbours and friends where many are lonely, For enough for all where some have too much,
We pray for wisdom to discern justice, to work for peace and to sustain God’s gift of creation.

For leaders offering to lead this province,
For Kathleen Wynne (Liberal), Vic Fedeli (Interim-PC), Andrea Horwath (NDP), Mike Schreiner (Green Party),
For all willing to stand as candidates in their ridings

Especially we remember... (Insert name of candidates in your riding),
For all the families of candidates and for those who work to support them,
We give thanks and pray they may be guided by wisdom, compassion, civility and a commitment to the good of all, especially the most vulnerable among us.

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