Sunday morning I talked with the "Early Edition" Sunday school class at Ainsworth United Church of Christ about the ballot measures Oregonians will be considering this November. Ecumenical Ministries of Oregon - our state's council of churches - has made recommendations on the measures. My own views are in line with EMO's:
Measure 70: Veterans Home Loans Expansion. Vote YES
Measure 71: Oregon Legislature Annual Sessions Amendment. No Position
Measure 72: Authorizes exception to $50,000 state borrowing limit for state property projects. No Position
Measure 73: Increases mandatory minimum sentences for specified crimes. Vote NO
Measure 74: Regulated Medical Marijuana Supply System Act. No Position
Measure 75: Authorizes Multnomah County Casino. Vote NO
Measure 76: Continues dedicated funding for parks, wildlife and water shed protection. Vote YES
City of Portland Measure 26-108: Continues City public campaign financing for Mayoral, Commissioner and Auditor candidates. Vote YES
You can download EMO's voter guide here. It contains an explanation of each measure and EMO's rational for each recommendation.
I will be voting YES on Measure 71 and I'm learning toward a YES vote on Measure 74 (though I agree this issue really ought to be considered by the Legislature and not by initiative - if only wishing made it so - and if I do vote YES it will be a vote to keep the debate alive rather than strong support for the measure as written). I have not come to a conclusion on Measure 72. These three measures are ones that EMO did not make recommendations on for various reasons.
So why should churches be making recommendations on ballots measures? The United Methodist Church provides the best answer in their Social Principles:
The United Methodist Church believes that the church has the moral imperative to act for the common good. For people of faith, therefore, there are no political or spiritual spheres where their participation can be denied. The attempt to influence the formation and execution of public policy at all levels of government is often the most effective means available to churches to keep before humanity the ideal of a society in which power and order are made to serve the ends of justice and freedom for all people. Through such social action The United Methodist Church generates new ideas, challenges certain goals and methods, and help rearrange the emphasis on particular values in ways that facilitate the adoption and implementation of specific policies and programs that promote goals that are congruent with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. This task of the Church is in no way in contradiction with our commitment to a vital separation of Church and State. We believe that the integrity of both institutions is best served when both institutions do not try to control the other. Thus, we sustain with the first amendment to the Constitution that: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof;” We live in a pluralistic society. In such a society, churches should not seek to use the authority of government to make the whole community conform to their particular moral codes. Rather, churches should seek to enlarge and clarify the ethical grounds of public discourse and to identify and define the foreseeable consequences of available choices of public policy.
The recommendations made by EMO are just that - recommendations. People of faith can come to different conclusions on difficult issues.
These recommendations come from "a" Christian perspective but not "THE" Christian perspective. There is room for debate and dialog.