Should Christians Vote?

Those of us who straddle the two kingdoms (as all Christians do to some extent) are often perplexed at election time. Voting is taking place soon in both Canada and the USA; Christians are wondering what to do.

Those who belong to groups that were originally Calvinist think along the lines of influencing the government, voting in Christian politicians (at least those with whom they agree) and favouring an agenda that looks traditionally Christian. They will vote in blocs.

Those who may have come out of the Roman, Anglican or non-Calvinist Protestant churches are less likely, perhaps, to be concerned about how their church votes, but vote their own conscience.

The Anabaptists, for the most part, avoid voting.

Caveat: I do not vote. I am not able to vote in Canada as a non-citizen, and I do not keep a permanent address in the Untied States so I can’t vote in absentia.

I don’t see much use in voting. All political parties look about the same to me. They serve different groups of special interests, but even that shifts frequently. We don’t make much money, so paying taxes isn’t a big deal. We are willing to pay our share – we do use government services because there isn’t much choice. Roads need to be maintained, safety personnel hired, hospitals subsidized. Public school is necessary for most families. There are legitimate community needs that are supported by tax dollars.

Keeping personal income low is one way to avoid subsidizing  the war economy, the environmental degradation sponsored by government-backed resource exploitation companies, and unnecessary expenditures that fatten the wallets and Swiss bank accounts of government contractors. Don’t earn much, don’t buy much, and the government can’t take much.

The sad, sad truth is that greed fuels governments – not government as an abstract concept, but government as an industry in itself. The people in charge encourage us to earn and spend, or at least borrow and spend, because sales taxes make up a hefty portion of taxes, as do import duties on the things we buy. We buy megatons of stuff imported across the Pacific, and all of that gets taxed in more than one way. The importer pays duties and port fees; we pay sales taxes when we buy it; we pay local property taxes so it can be hauled away by our municipality when it’s broken a few weeks later. We all pay income taxes on the money we earned to buy this stuff, or on the money earned by selling the junk.

I think Christians need to avoid this black hole, or at least stay outside the event horizon. (An event horizon around a black hole in space – a black hole being a collapsed star with a huge gravitational pull – is the “line” beyond which it is impossible to escape.)

For the love of money is the root of all evil.

The rich man loses sleep over the profit he has made cornering the grain market. He needs to build bigger barns. He plots how to get richer, and how he will spend his money in pleasure.  Then in the still watches of the night, he hears a voice whispering in his mind, “You fool! Tonight your life will be taken from you. What good are your barns and profits now? Someone else will have them. You have wasted your time.”

The system of tax collecting is always rife with abuse. It always favours the rich; but what good does that do their souls? I’m not sure why anyone wants to be rich beyond the necessities of life. I am not a pleasure seeker myself; I do not have interest in status objects or activities.

Staying off that event horizon has made me wary of the governmental system. I would rather live my life quietly and under their radar.

14 thoughts on “Should Christians Vote?

  1. The tax collection system favours the poor, wildly. That’s what a progressive tax rate is. Not to mention that nearly the bottom half of income earners will pay no net income tax.

    I have known many rich people and none had particularly disturbed sleep. the fellow who built up barns — he was enabling people to be fed better and more efficiently. That seems as good a way to spend one’s life as any other. When he dies the business he built will support his children, and his wife if he goes first.

    • I am at the bottom, and we pay income taxes on what little we earn – no zero net tax here! Sales taxes are inevitable and higher than ever in Canada. Import duties and transportation facility fees are built into the prices of the things we buy. Americans have a different perspective – most people are taxed at much higher rates than they are. Of course, the USA carries a huge government deficit.

      I have known many rich people and very few of them were happy. (I did their taxes.) The fellow who built up barns is in a parable given by Jesus. Most likely, in first century Palestine, taxes and creditors and the Roman government would have claimed most of what he left as an estate. His wife would have had few legal rights. I think again you have missed the point. He wasn’t concerned about his wife and children, just his own status and pleasure. He was not right with God; wealth availed him nothing when faced with certain death.

      • Do Americans have a different perspective? I think that the rate in most states ends up being the same as in Canada. In some places it appears to be harder.

        Many, many Canadians pay no tax. If you earn less than your deductions and exemptions, you will pay no tax. You may well end up getting money back. This is why the CRA has a benefit phone line. Many provinces even cut you a check for the amount of sales tax you pay.

        When was the last raising of the sales tax? There was the harmonization, yes. But it’s hardly “higher than ever.” In fact, Canadian taxes have been reduced according to a set plan for almost ten years.

        Duties and import taxes are of course built into prices. This is why it is important to support free trade.

        What I don’t understand is why you are always criticising what _other_ people are doing. _Those_ people — who are rich, who shop, who go to malls (rather than have their clothing custom made), who use driers. You compare them unfavourably to you and your husband — _real_ Christians. Did Jesus say anything about that?

      • Jesus would say that real Christians (little Christs) do criticize and critique the system. He did it. Yes, it got Him executed, and it may get some of us killed – but we are still commanded to do it. I shall keep criticizing the world. Sorry, I live in Canada, know for sure that taxes have gone up because I am paying them, and the sales tax rebate is only a partial rebate for low-income people. Experience, once again, trumps internet-research.

        I’m not sure why you keep coming back to my blog, since you disagree with what I do and what I say. Do you think you are going to argue me into another position? Prove me wrong?

  2. Most people in the industrialized world are rich but we forget it. I have food on my table, an apartment which to many people worldwide would be close to a palace, a job, good friends and loved ones. I feel rich because I remind myself of this and I refuse to call myself poor although teachers are underpaid in relation to their long study time (here in Sweden a high school teacher studies a minimum of 4,5 years at the university) and despite the fact that I even have a low salary for being a teacher. However, I can afford everything I need and many things I just want as well.

    I vote although it is not a perfect system but I feel it is an obligation to vote for the least bad alternative. In Sweden we have a racist party in our parliament (or they say they are not but if you have half a brain you can see they are) and I find it important to say that I do not in any way stand up for that kind of politics.

    The political scene here in Sweden is so different from the US, the majority of the people in our conservative party would support Obama if they lived in the US and for people like me who are in comparison much further left on the political scale there would be no major candidate to support at all. I would not vote for Obama just like I would not vote for the Swedish conservative party.

    • And Swedish people are better educated about the rest of the world than North Americans! I don’t think I can name any Swedish politicians or government leaders.

      • I must admit that I find politics boring most of the time and I do not know the names of all members of the government myself. That is bad being a teacher and all but at least I do not teach social science so I hope that is a small excuse to this lack of knowledge.

        Swedish politicians are not very famous outside of Sweden so I am not surprised at all that you do not know any of them but to add to your knowledge the prime minister (statsminister) is Fredrik Reinfeldt who is also the leader of the conservative party. The government consists of two mainly liberal and two mainly conservative parties and the opposition consists of the social democrats, the left party, the green party and the Swedish democrats (which I and many more consider racist). The current government is a weak one as it does not have sole majority and could possibly but not likely be overthrown by the other parties. However, the rest of the opposition do not want to work together with the Swedish democrats so the government being challenged is unlikely.

  3. We do the same as you about living simple and small: it makes it easier to keep the ethical issues associated with our decisions and choices easier to track.
    It’s important to me to aim for some kind of integrity in how I earn money, how I invest it, where I spend it – and the issues certainly aren’t straightforward.
    As to voting – someone, I can’t now remember who, said that no matter how she voted it always ended up being a politician that got elected; which made me smile. But we cannot escape the reality that we belong to one another. All of us vote. The people who didn’t go to the ballot simply helped elect the party that got in.
    In the UK, the public services (roads, hospitals, police etc) come out of our Council Tax (householders’ tax) not our income tax. That makes it easier for me. Like you, I don’t mind paying into that fund for the common good. I do object at the deepest level to paying in support of invading otther countries and dropping bombs on people. I hate it. Passionately.
    So I keep a discipline of simplicity.
    And I always vote – not for the party that looks after my interests necessarily, but for the party that will take the best care of the poor, the disabled, the very old, the very young and the disadvantaged. As I understand it, that’s what my vote as a Christian citizen is for.

  4. Hi Stealth, I hope your still reading. I can understand your not understanding this way of life we tend to talk about. What we, and most plain people, are practicing is separation from the world and in doing this, some of us believe we are led by the Holy Spirit to do it more extremely than some. I believe God sends messages to the world via all sorts of people today, just as He did in the Old Testament. It is involves a conviction that you cannot escape any more than Jonah could escape his mission. There are some scriptures in the New Testament which not only support what we do, but mirror OT scriptures and concepts. In 1 John 2:15 – 17 ” Love not the world, neither the things of the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. And the world passeth away and the lust thereof, but he who doeth the will of God abideth for ever.” There are other scriptures about coming out of the world, not being unequally yoked with unbelievers ( and obviously participate in what they do.). James 2:6 ” But ye have despised the poor. Do not the rich men oppress you, nad draw you before the judgment seats? James talks more about treating the rich better than the poor. Romans 12:16 Be of the same mind one toward another. Mind not the high things, but condescend to men of low estate. Be not wise in your own conceits. We are told also with food and raiment to be content, to choose modest clothes, not costly array, to not let our outward adornment be with gold and pearls. Very paraphrased, but it is all in there. Jesus does say it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of the needle than for a rich man to enter heaven.

    It is love of money, not having money, yes. But being rich is not something many can do without being corrupted. 1 Timothy 6:10 “For the love of money is the root of all evil; which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.” How true!!!
    I hope this helps you to understand where we are coming from Stealth. We are trying to avoid the worldly snares that leave us so few choices and yet, most of us can not escape the snares. However, we have faith that if we do our best we will be blessed and helped. And are not we all wanting to draw closer to our Father? It is so much easier to do that when we shut out unnecessary din from the world. Then, we can focus on Him and what He wants.

    May G-d Bless you richly ( I spelled like that in respect for you, asking a blessing for you specifically. I suppose I should have done it all through. I am always in such a hurry.)

  5. Magdalena and commenters,

    Voting in Australia is compulsory, with a $250 fine for abstaining. (if a household of four voting age persons abstains, there’s $1,000 up in smoke). On the other hand, casting an invalid vote is not an offence – Australia is the birthplace of the ‘Donkey vote’ after all!! 🙂 We underwent a Federal election mid-year in which the highest recorded invalid voting rate occured(6% of all votes cast) in an election whose results were knife-edge – decided by a handful of votes only in many electorates. Our tax system supports health, Education, Community Welfare, with roads, rubbish, public amenities (such as parks, public libraries, public swimming pools etc coming out of local Council rates paid by all home owners whether the home is owned outright, an investment property or still with mortgage payments owing).

    The GST is divided up federally between the states and supports police, education and health state by state, partially, with other state and federal tax revenue also contributing. Our universal health-care system is one of the best in the world. Our public education system depends on where one lives (unfortunately) which has led to fully one third of Australian children and young people receiving a private education (often at comparitively low cost religious or independant schools). Home education is much lower than in places such as the US, but ‘School of the Air’ is one of our unique home education options for those in rural and remote Australia. SOTA and the Rural Flying Doctor Service are unique worldwide (RFDS is no more costly than general medical services here, partially funded by Govt. and partially funded by donations. though it works within the various state health systems, it is an NGO in its own right.

    University was completely free from 1972-1989. After this, the Higher Education Contribution Scheme was introduced whereby the Govt. will pay for university education with the student paying back the costs out of their salary once working when said salary rises above a certain rate. For those studying in semenaries or theological colleges, the ‘Fee help’ system ( identical to all intents and purposes, to HECS) is available.

    Though we have generous government welfare, we do have a homeless population of 100,000 (a disgrace for a developed nation like Australia) and World Vision operates programmes within various indigenous communities (also a shameful state of affairs).

    Re the fundamental option for the poor (a central tenant of Liberation Theology),

    Matt. 25: 34-40
    Acts 2: 42-47
    James (from Ch 2 onwards)

    set a strong precedent.

    Concerning our use of god’s creation

    Rev 11: 18 (especially the last statement of this passage).

    We are called to responsibly exercise ownership of private property and the goods of this earth.

    Keep up the good work, and continue labouring in your ministry to a broken, disfunctional world.



  6. Magdalena,

    All Christians should be indignant!!

    Capitalism/Communism has failed, and is failing God’s creation – humanity and the Earth upon which we live and wholely depend.

    As a people, we need to ask ourselves some sobering questions about how we make, use and dispose of technology; we also need to ask those self same questions regarding those who make this tech and the materials from which it is constructed and demand an overhaul of the system that it may be managed at every level with far more wisdom and prudence than is currently exercised. Technology is invaluable to many of us (I have discussed the incredible difference it makes to my life as a person with significant vision impairement, in previous posts).

    We as a people need to truly think, discern and act.

    Food for thought…

    producers and marketers of technology need to be held to account.

    The genuine question also arises within this process, for those of us who rely upon technology due to disability or medical condition how we can best navigate the ethical maze when choices are limited and the technology itself is necessary.

  7. I am in US and have voted twice in my life. Believe me it turned out horrible both times. I no-longer vote but do pray that those who are appointed will ask our Lord for His Will to be known. I know we can not usually trust politicans to do as the promote, but I trust in a higher power.

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