By Barry Howard
Nov. 2 is Election Day around the country. In the state of Florida, where I live, citizens will be electing a new governor and a new senator in hotly contested races, and several other important local offices in a variety of cities. In my city, Pensacola, residents will be choosing our city’s first strong mayor, consolidating the positions of mayor and city manager.
During this past month at our church we have been asking a variety of questions focused around the central question, “What Would Jesus REALLY Do?” These inquiries have included mostly lifestyle questions investigating what it means to be a follower of Jesus in 2010. These questions have encouraged us to take a deeper look at stewardship practices, social issues, ethical dilemmas, e-communications management and community responsibility.
Last week we asked: If Jesus were going to the polls on Tuesday, would he vote for Democrats, Republicans, or independents? While we cannot know exactly who Jesus would vote for, I think it is possible to look at the life of Christ, his emphasis on citizenship and his ethical teachings and ascertain a few things that would influence Jesus’ voting habits.
Based on Jesus’ emphasis on civic responsibility, I think we can say for certain that Jesus would vote. Although Jesus did not live in a democratic society, his respect for political authority implies that he would participate in the electoral process and he would encourage his followers to do the same.
And based on what we know about Jesus’ values, I have a hunch that Jesus would vote based on the character of the candidate and not their party affiliation. I can’t imagine Jesus voting according to any party line. Admittedly, the Pharisees and Sadducees were more religious sects than political parties. However, in his interaction with them, Jesus seems to have had a thorough knowledge of their practices, and yet he demonstrated an independent spirit in dealing with their agendas. If Jesus were voting in this year’s election, I think he would vote according to his convictions for individual candidates, regardless of the parties they represent.
I am intrigued at the variety of factors that influence how an individual casts his or her vote. Here are a few of the factors that influence voting habits:
- Voting a straight ticket according to a preferred political party.
- Voting for the candidate whose name sounds most familiar.
- Voting against the incumbent.
- Voting for the one who sent the least political advertisements, or the one who made the least calls to one’s home.
- Voting for the candidate who had hymns, scripture, or a picture of a Bible in their ad.
- Voting for the candidate who talks about family values.
- Voting according to a voter’s guide.
- Voting for the candidate who is going to best represent one’s business or protect one’s job.
- Voting based on the gender, age, or race of the candidate.
- Voting for the candidate who promises change.
This upcoming election is a crucial one, for our country, and for many states and municipalities. As this election approaches, l encourage you to join me in exercising the responsibilities of our citizenship in the following ways:
- PRAY for the candidates and for the election.
- VOTE your personal conviction.
- SUPPORT those who are elected.
- WORK to make our nation, your state and your community a better place to live, work, and raise a family.
While the process of sorting through political motives and deciding who to vote for can be challenging and frustrating, voting is a privilege and a responsibility and should never be taken for granted. Be as informed as possible and cast your ballot according to your conscientious convictions. I think that’s what Jesus would do.