11.06.2005

On Church and State

Billy Graham said that "bad politicians are elected by good people who don't vote." I think the same is true of "bad propositions" passing because good people decide to stay home on election day.

This Tuesday, California (among many other states) has a special election. Statistics say that an average of 5% of registered voters get out to vote in an off-year election. What's worse is the truth so beautifully, yet sadly, written by William Butler Yeats': "The best lack all conviction, while the worst are full of passionate intensity." Where is the passionate intensity in those who are called to be the salt of the earth and the light of the world?

My pastor has asked me to take a few minutes to share with the congregation the importance of voting on the issues on the ballot for the upcoming election, in particular Proposition 73 (more election coverage this week). He often asks me to share before elections or on national holidays regarding political matters. This makes some people nervous. It shouldn't. The Internal Revenue Service has laid out clear guidelines for churches and non-profits in the 501 (c) 3 category regarding political matters.

Churches can discuss the issues. Churches can talk politics 10% of the time! There are 52 weeks a year. That means that a pastor taking five full Sundays every year to discuss political matters in the nation would not risk losing the church's tax-exempt status. Here are more guidelines.

Beyond the permission churches are given by the IRS, I believe that people of faith are obligated, in order to hold true to their convictions, to speak the truth in love in all matters, including political issues. If the truth we hear within the four walls of a church does not apply outside that building, then I have to question either that truth or the integrity of the believer.

If you are in a state with an election this week, vote. You have the right to complain about our government. But, it sure is wasted if you don't do anything with your right to bring about change. Edmund Burke said, "All that is necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing." I urge you, do something!

P.S. For those who didn't see where Hugh Hewitt linked to yours truly, here's the link. It was quite an honor! :)

10 Comments:

At 11/06/2005 10:15:00 AM, Anonymous aj4runner said...

"This Tuesday, California (among many other states) has a special election. Statistics say that an average of 5% of registered voters get out to vote in an off-year election. What's worse is the truth so beautifully, yet sadly, written by William Butler Yeats': "The best lack all conviction, while the worst are full of passionate intensity." Where is the passionate intensity in those who are called to be the salt of the earth and the light of the world?"

If only 5% of registered voters turnout in California for an off-year election this coming Tuesday then registered voters not voting there should be deported to a long lost deserted island somewhere in the Pacific Ocean. ;)

Here's a story from the Rocky Mountains News regarding the turnout for our off-year election last Tuesday Nov. 1st.

---

Estimate: Nearly half of state's voters went to polls

By Stuart Steers, Rocky Mountain News November 2, 2005

A total of 46.3 percent of Colorado voters cast ballots in Tuesday's election, according to Secretary of State Gigi Dennis.

Precinct reports compiled by the News indicate approximately 1,112,630 people voted in the statewide election on Referendum C. Colorado has roughly 2,328,000 active voters.

---

Our off-year election also included many local ballot initiatives in cities, towns and counties all over the state.

The propositions being voted on in California this coming Tuesday are so important to the future of the state that I'd expect the turnout to be at least 50% of all registered voters. With Arnold out there promoting his opinion on these issues it will be looked at as a failure on his part if only 5% of registered voters show up at the polls. I guess we'll see what happens.

In California I also expect at least 1% to 2% of the total turnout to be folks voting twice or multiple times, 'dead' people voting and those not registered to vote.

 
At 11/06/2005 10:38:00 AM, Anonymous aj4runner said...

"In California I also expect at least 1% to 2% of the total turnout to be folks voting twice or multiple times, 'dead' people voting and those not registered to vote."

Follow-up to my previous comment - I'd expect nothing less from the democratic party's get out the vote effort. Voting more than once, getting the 'dead' to the polls and paying people not registered to vote with cigarettes is the foundation of their get out the vote efforts.

 
At 11/06/2005 03:25:00 PM, Blogger The WordSmith from Nantucket said...

Voter turnout is predicted to be significantly less than it was for the 63% turnout during the total recall election campaign.

Apparently the Gubernator is being outspent by his opposition, 3 to 1. They've raised about $80 million in campaign funds to defeat Ah-nuld's Proposition measures. Everytime the TV is on, there seems to be an anti-Arnie commercial.

I'm pretty confident that Prop 73 will pass, if nothing else. That's got to speak to a lot of parents, no matter which side of the political spectrum you lean in....unless you lean waaaaay out there in left field.

 
At 11/06/2005 04:16:00 PM, Blogger Travis Fell said...

"He often asks me to share before elections or on national holidays regarding political matters. This makes some people nervous. It shouldn't."

Generally, my church's leadership has been open to voter registration drives and handing out non-partisan voter's guides. But they choose not to discuss from the pulpit very often. I don't think it's fear of the feds but fear of the more liberal church attenders who will complain about the "divisiveness" of taking a stand on a controversial issue....even if the stand is totally biblical. I've encountered some of this liberal angst in informing believers about the Texas Marriage Amendment. Read more here:
http://austinvitw.blogspot.com/2005/10/why-christians-should-support-texas.html

BTW: I checked out your Site Stats link at the bottom of the page...looks like you got a "Hugh-icane" of nearly 1500 new visitors. I'm in awe ;-)

 
At 11/06/2005 05:59:00 PM, Anonymous david said...

I'll part ways with you here on the issue of speaking about politics at church. It's not a matter of the IRS issue, it's just that I don't think that kind of political discussion has a place during a religious service. I have no problem with church buildings and so forth being used for those purposes, as long as it is not during the service. Just a personal opionion.

 
At 11/06/2005 06:14:00 PM, Blogger William said...

David: I think that you are right to a degree. Do I think that we should use the service to talk about our political slant regarding the War in Iraq? I don't think so because there is no biblical precedent for relative legislation. I could be wrong.

I do think that on issues where the the Bible is clear, then we should use 'church service time' to address those issues. That said, all citizens should be encouraged to vote whether liberal or conservative, and the church should NOT shy away from the political arena.

 
At 11/07/2005 02:11:00 AM, Blogger Poison Pero said...

Voter turnout in America is a crime, regardless of election type or season.

Our forfathers gave their lives to give us a democracy........Then we had successive battles to increase voter rights for all (Civil War, Women's Movements, Civil Rights Movements, etc).

Yet we still get a pathetic rate of turnout during elections.....Even during Presidential Election years.

It's sad and it's a disgrace.
----------
Hell, over 63% of Iraqi's show up to vote in their elections........And they have the risk of being killed for doing so.

Here in the U.S. people bitch about waiting in lines.........Then claim they were disenfranchised when they were too stupid and lazy to get off their couches and have their voice heard.

Don't get me started, Lores.....Don't get me started.

 
At 11/07/2005 09:09:00 AM, Blogger Sleep-Deprived said...

I think it is great that voting is brought up at church. It's a reminder to everyone that it is our duty as citizens and Christians.

And as for turn-out - can anyone say ABSENTEE BALLOT!

I personally like to go to the poll to vote, but it has gotten a little more complicated with small children. So for now I request an absentee ballot to be sure my vote gets counted.

See you at the polls! (sort of) :)

 
At 11/08/2005 05:29:00 AM, Blogger Travis Fell said...

David and William,
Regarding politics from the pulpit, I think a reasonable thing for pastors to do is instruct people on how to think biblically about issues of the day. That is, clearly explain the biblical worldview and show people how to connect the dots to the morning newspaper. Of course, speaking clearly about issues where the Bible is explicitly clear should also be countenanced.

 
At 11/08/2005 05:32:00 AM, Blogger Lores Rizkalla said...

here's a portion of my response to David in an email exchange we had today.

"I do think that there is a difference, though, between picking apart one candidate's record and simply addressing the issues from a biblically based perspective. That is, to simply teach on:

1. a citiizen's responsibility to vote

2. the qualities of leadership, as defined by the Bible

3. scriptures that apply to issues of the day

I think it's possible to teach what the Bible has to say about government, society, leadership without turning it into a partisan issue. If we do it honestly and biblically, both parties will shine in some aspect and both parties will fail miserably in others."

 

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