Jesus Isn't Running For Office
As November 8 approaches, we are perhaps fatigued by years of campaigning. And yet, voting is a part of our religious as well as our civic heritage. Jesuit Saint Robert Bellarmine, (1542-1621) laid out the notion of the right of people to elect their leaders, an idea that was later to influence Thomas Jefferson and others as they laid the foundations of our nation.
Preparing for the 2016 elections, we are conscious that there are many political parties, large and small. The Church supports no party, no individual.
However, it is the responsibility of the Church to describe the principles that should underlie our voting decisions. These values are drawn from God’s Natural Law, from divine revelation (especially the Scriptures) and from the lived experience of the People of God over 4000 years of history. To promote these principles is not an attempt by the Church to take over the country. Rather, it is the Church fulfilling our call to speak the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15).
In these times of relativism and morality-by-popular-opinion, many are unaware that God created and sustains the world with some moral absolutes. These include the dignity of the human person, the value of life, the freedom of the individual to choose the good, the right of peoples to national security, the sanctity of marriage and the family, respect for the property and rights of others, the dignity of work and freedom of religion (not only freedom of worship).
And so, I offer you three invitations:
- Each of us, citizen or not, has a profound responsibility to pray for our country and the election process.
- Those who are eligible to vote should register. And those who are registered should read the United States Catholic Bishops’ document Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship.
- Accept the fact that Jesus is not running for office. There is rarely a candidate who is going to be 100% acceptable to anyone. We must avoid the mistake of voting based solely on a single issue, no matter how important. Each candidate brings a composite of values, ideas, positions, past moral activities and promises. The mature Christian voter will pray and then vote for the most acceptable (or least unacceptable) candidate. Staying away from voting is equivalent to abandoning the future of the nation and the future of our children. Even if you have to hold your nose, vote for someone. Don’t leave the choice of our future leaders in the hands of others.
“I urge that entreaties, prayers and petitions be made on behalf of all who are in authority, so that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity.” (I Timothy 2:1-2).