Updated: Oct 30, 2020
by Gabriele Eubanks
Many people can agree that voting is already a controversial topic and has been ethically debated far and wide from almost every perspective there is. From what party you vote for to the process of voting, everyone seems to have an opinion and can become very vocal about which way is correct.
The climate surrounding voting for many people can be uncomfortable, but it becomes especially tricky when religion becomes involved. Voting as a Christian in America can have many connotations or even obligations depending on who you ask. For many people, voting is a civic duty that everyone should uphold and some go further to say it is a Christian's duty as well. Dr. Keith Huey, a religious professor at Rochester University said, “The politics of the nation is made sacred and people confer sacrality of voting as some sort of obligation.” As a Christian, Dr. Huey believes that voting should not be considered a Christian duty. He explained it to be that the nation Christians live in is not the kingdom of God and that Christians should not feel tied to any one country.
“Nations come and go, but the kingdom of God is lasting,” Huey said. From another perspective, some people consider voting to be a way of actively participating in Christian duties through the political system. Dr. Naomi Walters, head of the Theology Department at RU, said, “A good motivator for Christians to vote is the idea that God cares about how we set up our lives in community with one another” meaning that God does care about how we create a community with others and the way we take care of others systemically.
Walters also said, “We start to get nervous that it’s tied to a political party, but from a Christian perspective we have to hold on to a communal morality, not just personal morality.” Understanding that Christianity is not tied to one party or another is a very grey area for many people. Many people vote one way or another to preserve the Christianity of the nation.
Huey said, “Christians should not fall into partisan traps and if a Christian cannot see from both sides, they will fall into one.” Huey firmly believes that people who vote as an act of Christianity are turning voting into an act of worship, which it should not be. Many people turn voting into a sacred act of nationalism, which Huey warned against as being close to idolatry. The question is then raised, is it possible to vote without participating in this ‘sacred nationalism’?
One way to detract from this is by utilizing your vote for the good of others. A main narrative of the bible is serving others and doing good for others over yourself. Walters said, “The way that I look at it is, what does it look like for me to vote like I love my neighbor?” Meaning there is a way to utilize our right to vote as citizens to improve the society we live in and care for one another as a form of loving our neighbor. As Christians, there will always be differing opinions as to what is right, but I believe it is shown to be a matter of personal conviction.
However, it will always be imperative to remember to act in love with one's neighbor, whether that be through politics or through a way of living. Though voting is not necessarily a Christian obligation, loving and serving others is and it is important to remember that when choosing whether or not to vote, as well as who to vote for.