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Monday, April 03, 2006

What is Important in the Voting Booth 

I have no objection to a Christian voting his or her conscience, and in fact am surprised that people oppose such a practice. A voter should be motivated by things that are important to him or her, and to suggest that religious people should not let their religion influence their decisions is positively batty.

I will grant, however, that one must examine one's conscience and one's reasons for voting a particular way before deciding to vote. For example, if your religion claims that murder is a bad thing, does that necessarily give you the right to not only decide that murder is a bad thing for you to do, but is also a bad thing for others to do? After all, why should you impose your religious rules on other people for whom murder is just fine?

As the readers roll their eyes, they are thinking to themselves, "O, you stupid jerk, there's a difference between things that affect others and things that only affect yourself. Murder obviously affects other people." But are there truly any victimless crimes? For example, if you buy a joint and toke it in the privacy of your own home, after hiding your car keys first, is there a possibility that the money you paid for that joint may be used to kill Americans in Colombia?

Having said that, there are obviously a variety of ways in which a Christian can vote. Here is a list of "key faith and family issues" that were important to the Christian Coalition in the 2004 election:

Passage of a Federal Marriage Protection Amendment
Permanent Extension of the $1,000 Per Child Tax Credit
Educational Choice for Parents (Vouchers)
Unrestricted Abortion on Demand
Federal Funding for Faith-based Charitable Organizations
Permanent Elimination of the Marriage Penalty Tax
Permanent Elimination of the Death Tax
Banning Partial Birth Abortions
Public Financing of Abortions
Federal Firearms Registration & Licensing of Gun Owners
Adoption of Children by Homosexuals
Prescription Drug Benefits for Medicare Recipients
Placing US Troops Under UN Control
Affirmative Action Programs that Provide Preferential Treatment
Allowing Younger Workers to Invest a Portion of their Social
Security Tax in a Private Account

Such voter guides were satirized as follows:

Should our tax dollars be used to rip little babies from their
mothers’ wombs and hack them to pieces in a Democratic
Party-sponsored Planned Parenthood butcher shop?

Do you support a political party that uses an ass as its
symbol because that is exactly what each and every
person who votes for liberal garbage is?

Will you throw out the liberal so-called “constitution” and
replace it with the Holy (KJV-1611) Bible?

Do you want to persecute Christians and force their children
to submit to child molestation by satanic homosexuals in the
boy scouts?

Will you fund our military to the point that we can kill
anybody we want -- any time, any way we want?

Will you snatch our guns from our cold, dead hands until
the only people who have guns in this country are them
criminal colored folks?

Will you cheer when babies are aborted on purpose but
arrest folks if they run over a spotted owl by accident?

Will you support special rights for homosexuals, such as
the so-called “right” to keep a job if their boss finds out
what a disgusting perverted sinner they are?

Do you support taxpayer money going to the people who
most need it, such as televangelists and Baptist churches?

If elected, will you shut down churches, put Satan in
control of the White House, force children to look at
pornography, force everyone to become homosexual and
generally work to destroy everything that is good and
decent in America?

But some argue that different issues are "Christian":

[T]hree liberal groups released a post-election poll in which 33 percent of voters said the nation's most urgent moral problem was "greed and materialism" and 31 percent said it was "poverty and economic justice."...

The nationwide telephone poll of 10,689 voters was conducted by Zogby International for the Catholic peace group Pax Christi, the New York-based civic advocacy group Res Publica and the Washington-based Center for American Progress, a think tank allied with Democrats.

Meanwhile, up north, MCC Canada is considering other issues:

1. Canada’s commitment to refugees is most clearly demonstrated by the annual immigration levels....In light of the increasing overall immigration levels, how will the parties ensure that refugee numbers increase correspondingly?

2. A home is much more than a physical dwelling....Yet 1.7 million
Canadians were unable to find shelter that is adequate, suitable, and affordable. Those most affected include refugees, people who have been incarcerated, people living with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder, those living with mental health concerns, Aboriginal people, and low income Canadians. What measures will your candidates take to help ensure that these groups can access appropriate housing?

3. What should Justice mean to our politicians?...With fewer than 50 percent of victims of abuse, assault, or theft reporting their victimization to the police and only $2 million dedicated to meeting victim needs, what can be done by the Canadian government to meet the needs of victims? In comparison, how could the $10 billion we spend be used more effectively?

4. International Development continues to be a crucial issue....What do the parties envision as Canada’s role in international development? In line with the “Make Poverty History” campaign, what will Canada’s political parties do to increase aid, provide more debt relief to hard-pressed developing nations, and promote justice in international trade?

5. Work on issues of international peace is also urgent....What are the most effective ways of promoting our own security and that of our sisters and brothers the world over?

6. Water is life. Its multiple uses offer us spiritual, physical, economic, and social sustenance....Ask your candidates what concerns him or her about water in Canada and around the world.

Obviously, some political movements emphasize one part of the Bible, and others emphasize others. The Mennonites don't care about the babies killed before birth, and the Christian Coalition doesn't care about the babies who die after birth.

The closest that I've found to a non-political religious philosophy was exhibited by one of my Catholic friends, who spent much of the 1980s protesting abortion and nuclear proliferation. Needless to say, the political parties hate people like that.

From the Ontario Empoblog (Latest OVVA news here)

I completely agree with you that we cannot separate our spiritual beliefs from the voting booth.
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