Talking about ... politics in church
The First Amendment of our Constitution states: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…" Under the Internal Revenue Code, 501(c)(3) organizations are prohibited from directly or indirectly participating in, or intervening in, any political campaign on behalf of (or in opposition to) any candidate for elective public office. In light of this amendment and regulation, and in the context of the political division in our country, how do we conduct ourselves as people of the Gospel who are also responsible citizens?
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Background reading (optional)
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Now that you are all together, here we go!
This Living Room Conversation flows through five rounds of questions and a closing. Some rounds ask you to answer each question. Others feature multiple questions that serve as conversation starters — you need only respond to the one or two you find most interesting.
Before you begin your conversation, please go over the Conversation Ground Rules with your participants.
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One. Why are we here?
What interested you or drew you to this topic?
Two. Your core values
- what sense of purpose or duty guides you in life? What is your mission statement?
- what would your best friend say about who you are and what makes you tick?
- what are your hopes and concerns for your community and/or the country, now and long-term?
Three. Your thoughts and concerns.
Remember that the goal of this Living Room Conversation is for each participant to listen to and learn about the different opinions within the group to see where you might share interests, intentions and goals.
- do you see religion as generally speaking a positive or negative influence in society? Why?
- what does a separation of church and state mean to you when it comes to the role of religion in society?
- what role should faith/religion play in our political system? Are there appropriate limits — or are there too many limitations in place already?
- what is the appropriate relationship between faith and science — and are there ways to make that interaction more productive?
- in one sentence, share what was most meaningful or valuable to you in the experience of this Living Room Conversation;
- what new understanding or common ground did you find within this topic?
- has this conversation changed your perception of anyone in this group, including yourself?
Five. Accomplishment and moving forward
- name one important thing that was accomplished here;
- is there a next step you would like to take based upon the conversation you just had?
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