Earlier this month, the ecumenical group Evangelicals and Catholics Together (ECT) published a statement on Christian witness and the US elections on the website of First Things. ECT was first convened in 1995 by Richard John Neuhaus and Chuck Colson out of a desire to give a common Christian witness in the public square, in the spirit of unity for which Jesus prayed (John 17). Over the past twenty-five years, the group has issued statements on a range of both social and theological issues, most recently on “The Gift of Children.”
I’ve participated in ECT over the past few years, and have learned immensely from my fellow ECT members. ECT is that rare thing: an opportunity to meet regularly with fellow Christians with whom I disagree about important questions, in order to seek truths that we can affirm together. Our discussions are fraternal yet often blunt, even heated. (For example, as an Anabaptist committed to nonviolence I hold quite different convictions about a Christian approach to government and politics than Catholic or Reformed participants.) What’s so rewarding in these exchanges is the way that disagreement repeatedly leads us back to the words and example of Jesus, our common master.
ECT’s “A Statement on Public Officials and Public Office,” which appears below, is actually not a new ECT document but rather a brief reaffirmation of three basic principles from prior statements. As such, it’s not a direct comment on the Trump-Biden contest, much less a recommendation on how to vote in November, or indeed on whether to vote at all.
That said, the three principles it includes are far from toothless platitudes. Culture of life: What can we as a society do to better uphold the sanctity of life – for the unborn, for the elderly and disabled, and for all the vulnerable ones to whom Pope Francis refers in his warnings about today’s “throwaway culture”? Religious liberty: How will freedom of religion and of conscience be safeguarded in a secularizing culture? Marriage and family: How can we ensure that as many children as possible grow up with their own father and mother, in strong families based on strong marriages? These questions remain as crucial today as ever, and for that reason I gladly endorse the statement.