Faith Communities Today
New Fact Information
Only one in ten Adventist churches provides voter registration services for their own members or as a community service. That is less than the 16% of all religious congregations in America who do so.
Historically, African American congregations are more likely to provide voter registration and related information services. Much of this activity dates back to the civil rights movement and it can be controversial among Adventists, as well as other denominations. The prominence of right-wing, evangelical Christians in the current administration and congressional majority have sharpened feelings on this topic.
Some mistakenly believe that nonpartisan voter registration activities actually violate the law prohibiting nonprofit organizations with a Federal tax exemption from political activities. Others simply see it as a breach of the Adventist stand on separation of church and state despite the fact that the church standard on social justice, as outlined in the Church Manual, clearly requires that church members register and vote.
A few Adventist churches host the local polls in the voting precinct where they are located. This is often initiated by the government elections department or electoral commission, but in some areas these local government entities are actually looking for overtures from community institutions willing to share their space about one day a year or less.
1. Has our church ever provided voter registration services for our own members or as a community service?
2. Have we ever provided use of our facilities for the local voting precinct? Do we have facilities that would be useful for this purpose?
3. Is this a community service that we should explore? If so, shall we appoint an individual or a small task force to do some research?
As you plan for your outreach program, check the Adventist Congregations Today book and CD-R for insight into issues affecting how we share our faith. Learn more about the Faith Communities Today (FACT) research, click here.
Center for Creative Ministry
Creative Pastor e-Newsletter, February 22, 2006, Center for Creative Ministry