It's not a sin to vote for a Democrat. Nor is it a sin to vote for a Republican.
As a pastor, I believe that the pulpit is not the place to tell people how to vote. Nowhere in the ancient scriptures that guide my religious tradition (Lutheran Christianity) do I find any indication of God's party affiliation, and in my experience, sincere people of faith have a variety of political beliefs ranging from quite liberal to very conservative.
I do have opinions, however, shaped by my faith and political beliefs, that move me to support particular ideas and candidates. If you ask me, you might find that I hold quite strong opinions on issues like:
the wisdom and morality of the war in Iraq;
how well we are doing as stewards of the environment;
whether we are fulfilling the call to care for the least among us; and
how we can hold our leaders accountable for the consequences of their actions.
You might also find me working for a candidate, sporting campaign bumper stickers on my car, or erecting candidates' signs in my yard, and I encourage you to get involved as well.
But I will never, ever tell you that you are a less faithful Christian, Jew or Muslim if you happen to disagree with me.
Above all, I believe that my faith compels me to be a staunch advocate for civil discussion and mutual respect among political opponents as well as adherents of different religions. On Sept. 11, 2001, our nation received its most recent reminder of the horror that can be brought about by fanatics who believe that those who disagree with them are condemned by God. My prayer is that our nation can engage in spirited and substantive debate during this election season while retaining our sense that we remain one nation united by respect and care for one another.
Rev. Allen H. Brill is a Lutheran pastor (ELCA) and member of the bar in South Carolina and co-founder of "Why Not, South Carolina?", an organization supporting the work of South Carolina progressives. Email firstname.lastname@example.org.