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"Having Faith" in the Democratic Process

October 28, 2008

Sioux Falls, SD – As Election Day grows nearer and the campaigns continue to heat up, South Dakota voters are sorting through their options this week. Association of Christian Churches of South Dakota Executive Director Gene Miller believes that, with such a wide range of candidates and issues on the ballot, a voter's faith can be a very important and helpful guide.

Miller cautions, however, that the nation's democracy is best served and protected when candidates refrain from using church-based organizations and institutions for partisan gain.

"We're not into 'bully pulpits,' we don't want people getting 'beat up' with theological ideals. But we certainly want people to be theologically informed about their faith traditions and vote with their conscience."

Miller points out that, from social issues to the war in Iraq and the economy, it's important for South Dakota voters to ensure the candidates they support have views in line with their own. That, he says, requires paying keen attention.

"In our churches, our people hear sermons every Sunday that don't necessarily give a political point of view, but the point of view of their particular faith tradition - and those obviously inform our votes when we go into the polling booth. The first thing the Association of Christian Churches would say to everybody is, 'Please, go and vote.'"

Miller notes that this election is historic, with choices that include the first prospective African-American president who is a Democrat, and the first female as a prospective vice-president, who is a Republican.

David Law/Kevin Clay, Public News Service - SD