My blood pressure spiked recently when I read an election commentary on a popular evangelical website. The writer quoted extensively from a 1956 W.E.B. Du Bois essay and explained why the famed civil rights leader wouldn’t vote in this election. In a nutshell: There is but one evil party with two names, so people of principle should vote by not voting.
Du Bois, the co-founder of the NAACP, would possibly have similar objections to our 2012 options, but it’s important to note he was also an agnostic—not a Christian. Du Bois disparaged religious people, refused to pray when called upon to do so in public, and once said, “I think the greatest gift of the Soviet Union to modern civilization was the dethronement of the clergy and the refusal to let religion be taught in the public schools.”
For a more Christian view on voting, we can look to leaders such as John Piper, who in a recent blog post made the case for going to the polls. He said the main good in not voting comes in talking about it, “so why not let the blogs roll down like rivers against the defects of it all, and then take a few minutes to vote anyway?”
Piper correctly points out that it’s virtually impossible for two candidates to do exactly the same amount of good and evil once assuming office. Thus, we’re left to prayerfully consider who would do the most good in the position. Piper’s suggestion: “Tell as many people as you can the good reasons why you are disaffected with the whole thing; then go to the polls and take a burden-bearing, pro-active risk rather than staying home and taking a burden-dropping, reactive risk.”
Another leading evangelical, John MacArthur, cautions against placing eternal hope in temporal politics but also encourages Christians to express their political beliefs in the voting booth. MacArthur said “pious apathy” toward government and politics reveals a lack of appreciation for the ability God has given us to enact civil change. “Complete noninvolvement would be contrary to what God’s Word says about doing good in society,” he wrote on his ministry’s website, noting Galatians 6:10 and Titus 3:1-2. “It would also display a lack of gratitude for whatever amount of religious freedom the government allows us to enjoy.”
A glance across the country reveals those religious freedoms are quickly disappearing (for example, see the rash of lawsuits against the Obama administration’s contraceptive mandate or a college administrator coming under fire for signing a petition to allow a vote on same-sex “marriage”), and we have a stark contrast at the ballot box.
It may be true that W.E.B. Du Bois wouldn’t have voted in this election, but Christians should.