Nov., 23, 2020
The Maine Council of Churches is calling on Maine’s Congressional delegation to insist on a timely and orderly transition of government.
As a non-partisan organization of seven denominations who represent 434 congregations and 55,000 members in Maine, the Council has long advocated for civil discourse and integrity in our public servants. The Council does not support or oppose political candidates but focuses instead on the principles and values at stake in elections and public service.
Our churches are rooted in Hebrew and Christian scriptures and our mission is clear: “to inspire congregations and person of faith to unite in good works that build a culture of justice, compassion and peace.” Loving our neighbors – near and far -is a tenet that springs from those roots in all our denominations and is at the center of our lives, our faith, and our work. We believe that we are merely stewards of all that has been given to us- faith, community, environment and governance- and we have a God-given responsibility to turn over to the next generation all that we have been given in better condition than it was handed to us.
2020 has been a year to test all that we hold dear.
The COVID-19 pandemic has taken lives of loved ones, impacted businesses, caused job loss, stopped in-person worship, and impeded our children’s education and activities. Social isolation has robbed us of the comfort of hugs and hand holding in times of joy or suffering. The world is a dangerous place with expanding international tensions, civil unrest, rampant hunger and disease. A long, tense election has finally ended and most of us are quite glad to see ads for cars and game shows.
It is time to move on and, in the spirit of our Constitution, initiate the orderly presidential transition that has been the foundation of our democracy for over 200 years. Such a transition is an essential hallmark of this experiment in democracy and a model for emerging democracies around the world. Having candidates who are willing to take the risk of running for office and then to abide by the outcome of the election is a process that marks us as civilized human beings.
Transitions are not easy, but they have been easy to take for granted. Until now.
In his First Inaugural Address, President Ronald Reagan praised our collective achievement:
“To a few of us here today this is a solemn and most momentous occasion, and yet in the history of our nation it is a commonplace occurrence. The orderly transfer of authority as called for in the Constitution routinely takes place, as it has for almost two centuries, and few of us stop to think how unique we really are. In the eyes of many in the world, this every 4-year ceremony we accept as normal is nothing less than a miracle.”
In 1960 Richard Nixon refused to contest a narrow popular vote, telling a friend that “our country cannot afford the agony of a constitutional crisis.”
As people of faith, we are gravely concerned that delaying the transition is impacting the ability of the government to address the surging pandemic and will further impede the distribution of the much-needed vaccine, thus causing additional, unnecessary loss of life.
The 9/11 Commission reported that a delayed transfer of power would reduce our capacity to defend ourselves. We believe it also reduces our capacity to respond appropriately to international crises.
“Our Board of Directors thoughtfully and prayerfully discussed this situation and concluded that they could not be silent when people’s lives were at risk, in this country and around the world,” said Rev. Jane Field, Executive Director of the Maine Council of Churches. “It is our duty as people of faith not to cower at a time of crisis but to lift our voices and ask others to join us.”
And so we make this public plea to Senators Collins and King, and Representatives Pingree and Golden: Do all that you can to ensure immediate cooperation from the current administration in effecting a peaceful and orderly transition of power. Lives depend on it.