Here is a note from a sensitive reader, and one that feels the weight of the anabaptist tradition in approaching the election this year. I am posting the letter today and I will respond one or two times over the next week.
Greetings from a faithful JesusCreed reader and fellow TEDS alum and blogger! I hope your semester is starting off well at North Park. This will be my first semester teaching so I’m a bit apprehensive but looking forward to it. As an adjunct, I’m teaching both a Bible and a Philosophy course, though I’m not sure if I’m truly qualified for either!
I’m writing to ask your advice–from one convert to anabaptism to another–about what to do in this year’s election (or any for that matter). For the first time in my life I am truly torn, morally torn, about how (or whether) to vote.
Just to give you a bit of background, I grew up in a home where Rush Limbaugh was like another member of the family and TV meant Fox News (and, of course, ESPN). When the World Trade Center attack took place I was as supportive of our wars in Afghanistan and Iraq as they come (as well as capital punishment, anti gun control, etc). Then over a long process of deprogramming and rethinking faith and politics (and thanks in large measure to a professor), I experienced a second conversion of sorts to a more holistic anabaptist way of viewing my commitment to Jesus, which among other things meant becoming a pacifist.
And herein lies my dilemma. On the one hand, I want to distance myself as far as possible from my old way of thinking, which clearly means not voting for McCain with all of his “storming the gates of hell to capture Osama” talk. On the other hand, I feel like voting for Obama would be primarily based on emotive reasons: not voting Republican for once, being a part of “history-making”, going along with many in the missional-emerging crowd, etc. But then there is the very real issue of (partial-birth) abortion, which I can’t in good conscience ignore, as it is just as violent as anything McCain stands for, not to mention the fact that Obama isn’t really a true anti-war candidate (if there is such a thing at the Presidential level).
I searched your blog to see what you’ve written before on the topic and found this statement:
On politics I strive as much as possible to let my passions be for God and for the Church and for others (the Jesus Creed). I place no confidence in redemption by way of politics. The political hope ebbs and flows every 8 years now; I don’t get all riled up if a Republican or a Democrat wins; I don’t think it matters that much to what we are called to do on a daily basis.
I’m with you 100% here but wondering how this plays out for you in the details. Does placing “no confidence in redemption by way of politics” justify a least-of-two-evils vote in November? Does voting for a candidate who I know will support immoral policies not implicate me with those policies? Would it be better to conscientiously abstain from voting? Or is that simply a moralistic cop-out? Should I perhaps consider voting for one of the “protest candidates” like Ron Paul, who I know won’t win but still allows me to do my “duty” to vote?
I’m sure your uber-busy this time of year, but I would really appreciate any guidance you (or even your blog readers) might have. Thanks so much!