Oct. 26, 2016
“Should I vote during this election?” “Does my vote even count?” Those are some of the questions that you might be asking yourself as November 8th gets closer and closer. I would say “yes” to both questions. You should vote during this election. Your vote does count. Of course, the next logical question is, who do I vote for? To answer this question, many arguments could be made and the potential for disagreement is high. However, that does not detract from the point that voting this election is something that all Christians in the United States should take seriously. To lay a foundation for why you should vote during this election, we will take a look at statesmen, statistics, the Supreme Court, and Scripture.
With the recent success of the Broadway musical Hamilton, there has been a renewed interest in the life of Alexander Hamilton, the United States’ first Secretary of the Treasury and signer of the U.S. Constitution. As one of our Founding Fathers, we should strongly consider what he has to say about voting. He said, “A share in the sovereignty of the state, which is exercised by the citizens at large, in voting at elections is one of the most important rights of the subject, and in a republic ought to stand foremost in the estimation of the law.” Samuel Adams, Founding Father and cousin of John Adams, said, “Let each citizen remember at the moment he is offering his vote that he is not making a present or a compliment to please an individual—or at least that he ought not so to do; but that he is executing one of the most solemn trusts in human society for which he is accountable to God and his country.” Hamilton and Adams, as did many of the Founding Fathers, recognized the importance of voting and being involved in the political sphere.
So how have we, as evangelical Christians, done in our stewardship of the privilege of voting? The answer frankly is we have done a poor job. Statistics from the 2012 general election tell us that there were around 90 million Christians of voting age in the United States. Of those 90 million Christians, only 77 million Christians were registered to vote. Of those 77 million, only 51 million voted in the election. That means there were about 39 million eligible Christian voters who were either not registered or just decided not to vote. Breaking down the 39 million, we know that approximately 13 million Christians were not registered and 26 million decided not to go to the polls. The importance of these statistics is made particularly clear, for example, when we know that Mitt Romney lost the popular vote to Barack Obama by a margin of just 3,476,755 votes.
Yet all of our focus should not just be centered on the presidential race. We should remember the critical state and local elections that will be taking place this November. It is perhaps at the state and local level that one person’s vote counts all the more. For example, in the 2013 New Jersey General Assembly District 2 election, the race was decided by a margin of just 40 votes. The 2014 Arizona Second Congressional District election was decided by only 179 votes. In what has been such a polarizing presidential election, people often forget that there are other important races. The executive branch is just one-third of our government. Elections this November, for example, will decide who will be in control of the Senate going forward. The involvement of people of faith who will choose to vote their values in these races, especially the battleground states like Florida, North Carolina, and Ohio, will probably be a big factor regardless of whether we have a red or blue White House in January.
Another factor to consider this upcoming election is the vacancy in the Supreme Court left open by the recent passing of Justice Antonin Scalia. It is worth noting that our next president will potentially appoint not just one, but possibly as many as four justices to the Supreme Court. Since 1970, the average Supreme Court Justice has served for about 25 years. In light of this, the new president’s appointments will have lasting effects that will endure well beyond their four-year term. It is also worth noting that not only does our next president have power to appoint new Supreme Court justices, but he or she will have the power to potentially appoint judges to any of our nation’s 94 federal district courts and 13 courts of appeals.
The importance of the Supreme Court is further highlighted by its recent decisions that were split 5-4. There are times when a 5-4 vote has gone down in our favor, such as the decision to uphold religious liberty in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby. Yet we are also particularly cognizant of the times when an unfavorable split decision was rendered, such as the recent Obergefell v. Hodges case that gave us court-created same-sex marriage. With the court currently at eight seats, whoever will be the ninth Justice will play a crucial role in future cases that go before our nation’s highest court.
Your vote counts. It is as simple as that. We cannot afford to stay home this upcoming election. In Mark 12:17, Jesus said, “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” The general principle we can take away from this verse is that Christians are to be in the world but not of it. We know that God is sovereign and in control of everything. He is our ultimate authority and deserves our utmost allegiance. Since living under a democratic government is a blessing from God, we have been given an incredible stewardship that is not given to everyone. That means that if we have the opportunity to vote, we should vote. Vote your values. Exercise your right and privilege in this country to vote and do not forget to vote all the way down the ballot. There is much at stake this election, so this November 8th be sure to get out and vote. If you have not registered yet, visit FRCAction.org to get helpful tools on registering to vote, important deadlines, voter guides, and more. Thanks for reading and thanks in advance for voting for faith, family, and freedom.