Honor, Privilege, Duty
Americans are blessed to have a “government of the people, by the people, and for the people.” But democracy has one key requirement: our participation.
And the most basic democratic participation is voting. Yet it can also have the most profound impact. When you vote, you help determine who will lead our nation, make our laws and protect our liberties.
More than a right, voting is a privilege that millions of people in other parts of the world can only dream about. Still, many Americans choose not to vote.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, as many as 25 to 35 percent of eligible Americans are not registered to vote — that’s 45 to 65 million people! Less than half of the voting-age population actually votes in any given election.
What’s worse, according to the Republican National Committee (from data provided by The Pew Research Center, Voter News Service, and Gallup and Zogby polls), only one out of four eligible evangelical Christians voted in the 2000 elections. Of 59 million potential evangelical voters, 24 million of them were not registered to vote. Only 20 million of the 35 million registered evangelical voters went out and actually voted. 1
The Influence of Faith
Author Jim Nelson Black, in his book When Nations Die, wrote: “One of the greatest reasons for the decline of American society over the past century has been the tendency of Christians who have practical solutions to abandon the forum at the first sign of resistance. . . . In the parable of the talents, Jesus Christ did not warn us to run away, to flee to the hills, or hide our eyes, but to go into the fields and bring forth the harvest.” 2
Our faith in God should influence our values in life, and that includes the political arena. We shouldn’t be bashful about injecting notions of right and wrong into public debates. These ideas come from moral standards, which are essential to a free society such as ours, to prevent it from sliding into social chaos. People of faith, grounded in moral truth, must be prepared to discern those candidates best able to uphold moral values.
As Christ’s representatives on earth, we are under a mandate to be “salt and light” in our culture (Matthew 5:13–16). Dr. James Dobson wrote, “We live in a representative form of government where we are its leaders. It means that every citizen has a responsibility to participate in the decisions that are made . . . and that includes people of faith . . . [using] his or her influence for what is moral and just.” 3
Voting Your Values
Here’s more sobering news: Many believers fail to consider their biblical values when voting, often choosing candidates whose positions are at odds with their own beliefs, convictions, and values. A recent study by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life shows that nearly two-thirds of Americans say their faith has little to do with their voting decisions.
But Charles Colson, founder of the Prison Fellowship ministry, highlighted the need for something more than voting the party line when he wrote:
Societies are tragically vulnerable when the men and women who compose them lack character. A nation or a culture cannot endure for long unless it is undergirded by common values such as valor, public-spiritedness, respect for others and for the law; it cannot stand unless it is populated by people who will act on motives superior to their own immediate interest.
Keeping the law, respecting human life and property, loving one’s family, fighting to defend national goals, helping the unfortunate, paying taxes — all these depend on the individual virtues of courage, loyalty, charity, compassion, civility and duty. 4
A Final Word!
It is absolutely critical that Christians be registered, be informed and vote our values. As believers, we have a duty to be involved in the democratic process.
But our charge is not simply to vote our geographic origins, our denominational affiliation, our party or even our pocketbook. Instead, we must vote our values, our beliefs, our convictions.
An informed vote takes effort. The choice is not always easy, but it is always significant.
Taking Action: Register to Vote
Here are three simple steps:
- Use the voter registration form accompanying this brochure. (If you don’t have a voter registration form, you can obtain and complete one at http://www.iVoteValues.org.)
- Print. Sign. Seal. Address with label. Stamp.
- Mail to your Secretary of State. (To locate the address, see http://www.iVoteValues.org.)
Register Your Friends
Help organize a voter registration drive in your local church or community. A special Voter Impact Toolkit is available from Focus on the Family. Call 1.800.A. FAMILY for information.
Vote Your Values
- Educate Yourself on Election Issues: The website above is a great place to start.
- Pick Your Party: Consider how each political party’s views on moral issues line up with your core values.
- Choose a Candidate: Know what the candidates stand for. Weigh the candidates’ values against the life principles found in God’s Word, and choose the candidates whose views most closely match.
Pray for the Election
Election Day, November 2, 2004, is fast approaching, and there is much at stake. In many ways, the future of our nation hangs in the balance. We encourage all concerned Christians to devote themselves to focused prayer for the election and for our nation. A great prayer guide can be found at http://www.iVoteValues.org.
- Candi Cushman, “Remember Florida,” Citizen, July 2004, p. 24.
- Jim Nelson Black, When Nations Die: America on the Brink: Ten Warning Signs of a Culture in Crisis, (Wheaton, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, 1994), p. xix.
- Dr. James Dobson, Focus on the Family Newsletter, June 1996.
- Charles Colson, Against the Night: Living in the New Dark Ages, (Ann Arbor, MI: Servant Publications, 1989), p. 67.