It’s election season. Even if you haven’t given much thought to the ballot yet, you’ve probably been bombarded by lawn signs, attack ads on TV, and unwanted text messages and phone calls, all trying to sway you toward a particular candidate or stance. There’s another place you might encounter political opinions you didn’t ask for: Sunday morning church. 

These past few years have been such a minefield of politicized topics that discussions on politics seem almost unavoidable. A chat about the weather can easily spiral into a debate about climate change. Someone sharing about their health can find themselves furiously discussing the government’s response to the pandemic. And then there’s the upcoming November election and then the 2024 one. 

Personally, I feel even tenser when these subjects are brought up in church. What’s the old saying? “Never talk about religion, politics, or money”? Maybe the extra anxiety is because of the double threat of talking about religion AND politics at the same time. Maybe it’s because I’ve been drifting away from the politics of many other members at my church lately. Or maybe it’s because I so desperately want us to agree. Because no matter how strongly I disagree, they’re still my church family, and I care about what they think.   

I’m all for church families discussing touchy subjects. And I know that our politics often flow out of our deeply held beliefs and will, of course, be influenced by our faith. The problem is that we often (wrongly) judge each other’s morals and even salvation by our political opinions. There’s an extra emotional and spiritual investment with a church family, and that gives us enormous power to hurt each other. But that doesn’t mean we should avoid talking about politics altogether. Here’s a short cheat sheet for having political conversations at church (or anywhere) that don’t turn loud and ugly. 

Understand Your Own Point of View

Communicating effectively with another person starts with really understanding our own minds first. This may seem obvious, but it’s often trickier than it might seem. We need to honestly dive into why we think the way we do. Is it because we have good reasons based on the Bible? Because we’re drawing on life experiences? Because we heard someone we respect say so? Make sure you’ve done your research into the subjects you want to talk about and have carefully analyzed the sources of your information. That way, you’ll have rock-solid ground to stand on when talking to another person. 

Don’t Be Afraid to Say What You Think, But Do It Kindly

I instinctively avoid conflict, which means I tend to flee political conversations when I know I disagree with the other person. But that isn’t the right approach. Difficult conversations are an opportunity to show love to another person, especially if we disagree. We should be able to be honest with each other about our beliefs and not hold back because of fear. However, make sure you can talk about the topic in a loving way. It’s okay to walk away or change the subject if you feel your emotions may lead to a conversation that isn’t loving or God-honoring.  

Try to Understand the Other Person’s Point of View in the Best Light Possible

Give them the benefit of the doubt, and assume that they, too, have done their research and have good reasons for what they believe. Ask questions. If they don’t have good reasons, genuine and gentle questions may help them later reevaluate their stance. Try to get beneath the vocabulary and party-line jargon that often divides us and look for the underlying convictions that cause someone to believe what they do. You may be able to find common ground there. 

Avoid Outrage 

Be wary of an instinct to react with outrage or assume the worst about people’s intentions. Remember, the news thrives on outrage, so they seek to create it in people. Outrage is an addicting feeling. It feels good to feel so right and know that others are so wrong. It makes us feel somehow better than other people. The harm comes when outrage becomes a habitual response to things and people we disagree with. Remember that Christians regularly come to different conclusions about all sorts of things. It’s fine to question ideas and platforms we feel are wrong, but it’s not okay to attack the person who holds those ideas. 

Keep Sight of the Most Important Thing (Hint: It’s Not Politics)

We can tend to get so passionate about something that we quickly get upset or angry, resulting in arguments that don’t honor God. When you talk about politics or any dividing issue, don’t have the goal of “winning.” Instead, make your goal to show the other person love. In the New Living Translation, 1 Corinthians 14:1 says, “Let love be your highest goal!” When you disagree, remember that it doesn’t matter who’s right in this moment. What matters is that you can use this opportunity to build a trusting, respectful, loving relationship with another Christian. 

It is possible to talk about politics without contention and retain respect for each other even when we disagree. We may not change each other’s minds, but as the church, we can set an example and practice this type of healthy discussion for the rest of the world.


Author Hannah Rau is a Michigan-based writer and writing tutor. Hannah earned degrees in English and rhetoric and minored in Bible. She enjoys exploring literature, media, and culture through the lens of her Christian faith. And drinking coffee. Lots of coffee.