Compassion & Conviction: The AND Campaign’s Guide to Faithful Civic Engagement
By Justin Giboney, Michael Wear and Chris Butler (InterVarsity Press)
Compassion & Conviction is written for those new to the political process and those who have lost faith in it. As such, it should be required reading for teenagers, young adults and new citizens or those seeking citizenship in the United States. It is intended to be read in groups.
One of the most helpful aspects of the book is the authors’ critique of all sides in current American politics. This is seen clearly, for example, in Chapter Five when they charge Republicans and Democrats with disingenuous or deceptive rhetoric. That particular chapter provides guidance for taking in and responding to political language and messaging.
One of the best pieces of advice offered in the book is in Chapter Five: Don’t take names and slogans at face value, but make politicians and organizations earn your trust by assessing their words and agendas.
Scheduled to be released July 21, Compassion & Conviction is a quick read broken into eight chapters that build on one another. Each chapter concludes with questions and group exercises. To make the material even more accessible, chapters are further broken into clear sections. Some chapters provide charts with biblical examples of civic engagement. Chapter topics include race, advocacy, protest and civility.
The authors begin with a biblical foundation and “a gospel-centered framework.” They contend that Christians should be engaged in politics because “it gives us a significant opportunity to actively love our neighbors.” Furthermore, Christians should engage in politics because if “we are not applying our values to our advocacy and voting, then we’re applying someone else’s.”
They explain the purpose of government using Paul’s words in Romans 13 and provide a brief overview of the branches of U.S. government, political parties and the significance of the Establishment Clause in the First Amendment.
Christians are exhorted to use critical thinking and not to be boxed in by false choices between one side or another or one issue and another. The framework of “truth in love” (Ephesians 4:15) enables Christians to avoid that trap. Critical thinking also is crucial when considering whether to partner with non-Christian entities. Chapter Four provides a guide for studying such potential partnerships.
Following the author’s advice in Chapter Four about studying up on organizations and people with whom we might want to partner, the AND Campaign was formed to promote biblical values and social justice. Their specific aims are described here.
Justin Giboney is an attorney, a past delegate for the Democratic National Convention and a leader of the AND Campaign. Michael Wear was on staff in the Obama White House, continues as a political strategist and is a member of the executive team of the AND Campaign. Chris Butler is an associate pastor at Chicago Embassy Church and has been involved in community organizing.
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Eric Black, editor