Voting as Damage Control

By Shane Claiborne 10-30-2008

Every day I am asked how I will be voting.

Principled Christian non-voters and secular anarchists have written to urge a public statement on voting abstinence. Good folks in both parties and plenty of journalists are frustrated that we won't answer with a simple endorsement. That just seems too easy. Jesus was far too slick to get boxed into any political camp.

One of the ways the Religious Right went wrong was telling folks what to do rather than stirring people to think for themselves. Our whole Jesus for President project has been about provoking imagination and action. The decision we make on November 4 is an important one -- perhaps no more important than how we live on November 3 and November 5 -- but important nonetheless. We have done all sorts of discussions and studies to try and discern the most appropriate Christian witness to the state (by the way, if I might recommend one book for this week, it would be John Howard Yoder's Christian Witness to the State). Let me share a few of the things I will be considering as I choose the most faithful action on November 4.

As a follower of the enemy-loving God, it is difficult to vote for a commander in chief of the largest military in the world, especially when no candidate seems to be preaching "blessed are the peacemakers" or creating a plan for turning swords into plows.

If you are completely paralyzed by imperfect choices, writing in "Jesus" is an option but should also come with grave responsibility. Just because you don't vote doesn't mean you can't critique any more than owning stock should be a prerequisite for decrying the patterns of Wall Street. However, if we do not vote, we had better be spending every day of our lives trying to create alternative solutions to the questions of how 48 million folks can have health care, how we can live without fuel, how we deal with violent people

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