Many metro-area churches and faith-based groups are urging congregations to take their faith into the voting booths come Tuesday.
Southern Baptists in Oklahoma and Roman Catholics across the state have been encouraged to read and study the issues at hand using voter guides written especially for the 2012 presidential election.
A group of northeast Oklahoma City churches is gearing up for a march to the Oklahoma County Election Board on Saturday to urge the members of their predominantly black congregations to exercise their right to vote.
And a downtown Oklahoma City church plans to host an election-focused prayer vigil Monday.
“Our hope is that in preparing to go vote that believers will examine the platforms of the two people vying for (presidential) office and they will examine their consciences relative to that,” Paul Moody, a member of the Capital Baptist Association's Ethics and Religious Liberty Committee, said Wednesday.
“We want them to vote and vote their conscience. We feel like when we do that, then we'll be OK.”
The Rev. Mark McAdow, senior pastor of First United Methodist Church of Oklahoma City, citing 1 Timothy 2: 1-2, said Christians have a biblical mandate to pray for their leaders. He said that is one reason why his church, 131 NW 4, will host a prayer vigil beginning at 7 a.m. on the day before the election.
“To be well-informed voters, we need to be praying about each candidate's character and stance. We want men and women of good character and faith,” he said.
The Rev. Ray Douglas, senior pastor of Greater Mount Olive Baptist Church, said the planned pre-Election Day “Taking Our Souls to the Polls” march and rally is designed to increase voter awareness.
“It's nonpartisan — we just want the people to get out and vote, and we're trusting that God will lead us,” he said.
Moody said his committee of Southern Baptist clergy and lay leaders, printed and distributed copies of a prayer guide for the 40 days leading up to the election, the “40/40 Prayer Vigil,” created by the Southern Baptist Convention's Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission. The Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma also created an election prayer guide for Oklahoma and another guide, “Forty Days of Seeking God.”
Moody, a member of Southern Hills Baptist Church, said efforts to raise awareness about the importance of voting are sometimes stymied by some Christians' beliefs that people of faith should not be involved in the political realm. He said he tells these believers that some issues that have been deemed political are moral and ethical concerns they should weigh in on.
Like Moody, Alfred Overton said it is important that people of faith understand the issues they are voting on. Overton helped coordinate a nonpartisan community action forum held earlier this week at his church, Northeast Church of Christ.
“We're not trying to say ‘Hey, you have to vote this way.' Sometimes people may not understand what the total ballot is about. We believe the more you know, helps you,” Overton said.
Douglas said people participating in the “Souls to the Polls” event will meet at 9 a.m. Saturday at Greater Mount Olive, 1020 NE 42, for prayer and presentations before walking to the Oklahoma County Election Board at 4201 N Lincoln Blvd.
He said in 2008, excitement was high in the northeast Oklahoma City community as the presidential election neared with the then-potential first black president Barack Obama on the ballot.
“I think some of that excitement has died down but this election is a very important election,” Douglas said. “Sometimes people become complacent and we don't want them to continue to allow other people's vote to shape their destiny.”