I stay updated with a very respected brain surgeon, Dr. Ben Carson, whom I voted for in the primaries earlier this year. I was moved by his kindness, his honesty, and his reasoning. His constant telling of ways to “use your brain” and “do your own research” spoke to me. I hoped it would speak to the others in my generation as well. I truly wanted him to be President.
Since dropping out of the presidential race, Dr. Ben Carson went on to become the Honorary National Chairman of My Faith Votes, a non-profit organization focused on inspiring Christians to vote according to their faith.
I admire what My Faith Votes is trying to do and support their cause entirely, however, I’m afraid a lack of incentive will hinder their outreach. If it is true what their website says, that 25 million registered voters who are Christians did not vote last presidential election, it’s because voters did not have an incentive to vote. It might be that they are stuck in a paradigm of thought keeping them from it. In order to understand why so many people are staying home on Election Day, we must explore the paradigm they are in, and the possible hindrances that are causing them not to vote.
One possibility is the social impact that culture has on modern Christians. Popular opinion says: truth depends on who is talking, not on one, solid source; everybody has their own way of living; nobody should tell anyone what to believe; to be American is to be free; to be free is to be free to think anything. While a Christian will usually accept the Bible as truth, today’s Christian interprets that truth through the viewpoint of popular opinion: not judging means not discriminating, loving means accepting all races, religions, and genders, and following Jesus means being free to live life however one pleases. This viewpoint, part of the paradigm, results in Christians who are without incentive to do anything but allow things to be, letting the future unfold before their eyes, without doing anything more than maybe praying a prayer for “God’s will be done”.
A second possibility that stops Christians from voting is peer pressure. Take my life for example. When I turned 18, I didn’t shout for joy that I was the age to vote. “I don’t really like politics. It’s not for me,” I said. Really, I didn’t want to vote because having an opinion meant judging, which I thought was basically the same as discriminating. As a millennial, my generation taught against anything that would impose on another person’s wellbeing. As a woman of God, the Bible verse 1 Timothy 2:11-15, instructing women to remain submissive, gave me a way out of having my own opinion, which was just going to make people mad and offend them. Most of my friends were liberal non-Christians, while my family was conservative Christians. Since I chose to be a listener, not a warrior, I was backed into a corner of silence and “indifference”. That became my reason not to vote. I chose to be silent because it was the right thing to do for my friends, for my family, for God, and ultimately, for me. Not voting meant the same to me as caring.
These two hindrances, popular opinion and peer pressure, created a paradigm of thought that influenced Christians like me to decide not to vote in the last presidential election. The danger WAS voting: if I chose to vote conservative, my non-Christian friends would judge God as being hateful because of my political stance; but if I voted liberal, my Christian family would be judgmental against me for not doing as God wants. I did not want to give either of the people I loved the stumbling block into sin. That caused me to see voting as a dangerous act of rebellion. My status with friends and my respect with family was more important to me than one vote which may or may not matter, considering it is only one vote, anyway, so what difference does it make?
Therefore, I truly am afraid that a lack of incentive will hinder the outreach My Faith Votes wants to have. As for me, I have done my research this year and I am deciding to vote. Back in 2012, nothing felt at stake. Now in 2016, I can’t sit out of it this time, not when my freedom is in question, my faith ridiculed, and my values forgotten. The USA does still offer freedom of religion, but for how long? How many years ahead will we be able to speak about our faith in public? Tomorrow, I’m not sure. The world is changing. The nation is changing. The leaders are changing. There’s more at stake – authorities are contemplating on how to take away the rights of Christians, our rights to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ and our ability to share our faith with others – and that’s why I am going to vote and my vote is going to be the conservative choice this year. I wish I had the ability to tell every Christian who doesn’t want to vote what I know, what I learned from the research I have done. I can only pray that God’s will be done…. but this time, I’m going to vote, because my faith matters.
Kat’s pledge: Kat is making a pledge to vote this November. She also wants to challenge you (if you’re American, if not, no worries) to make your own pledge.