Yesterday was the primary election in Alabama and I didn’t vote. For the first time since I turned 18 and after some deep thinking, I abstained from voting.
It wasn’t because I was was lazy or didn’t care. I care about politics very much. It fascinates me just as much as it frustrates me. I care because I do believe that decisions made in Washington (and in Montgomery) impact my daily life. But this time, because I care, I could not vote – for anyone.
This isn’t about republican versus democrat. This is about the issues. I think that this election, especially this primary season, will be incredibly focused on the issues, due mostly to social networks, which provide a forum for people to bring the issues front and center.
I wasn’t always so concerned about the issues. I was a republican because my parents and pretty much everyone I knew at UA were. I wore my Greeks for Bush shirt proudly and passed out voter registration cards for Young Republicans. But as I got older, and maybe wiser, I started to pay attention to what *I* believed, what I thought was important. And I began paying attention to the politicians whose beliefs matched mine.
What does this have to do with Christianity you ask? A whole lot actually. I am a white, southern Christian. Statistically I should be a republican. I should be in favor of the second amendment, prayer in schools, abstinence education, pro-life, and be anti welfare, raising taxes, and big government. I should really like Rick Santorum and think that Rush Limbaugh was just saying what everyone else was thinking.
I actually am a lot of those things (except the Santorum and Limbaugh thing, because, whoa and no thank you). I just look at them in a different way. I happen to really like the second amendment. Do I believe in gun control and trying to limit the black market? – absolutely. But if you are old enough and have a permit, you should have a gun if you want one.
I like prayer. I pray a lot, multiple times a day; I prayed in school all the time, both out loud with friends and silently. It fills my heart to know that I live in a place that allows me to do that. But do I believe in school or teacher led prayer? No. Do I believe in requiring every student take the Pledge of Allegiance? Absolutely not. Why not either of these things? Because not everyone shares the belief of the school or the teacher. Some might be Christians, some Jewish or Muslim, or Hindu, or an atheist. By forcing prayer, and thus your beliefs, on them, you are infringing on the right to religious freedom.
I believe in abstinence education…as part of sex education as a whole. You cannot depend on parents to discuss the issues with their children, and getting information from their friends or the Internet is not the way to go. Multiple options should be presented – safe sex, STDs, and abstinence as the only way to prevent all of this. Teens are going to have sex whether we like it or not, so let’s prepare them the best that we can.
I am pro-choice. This, more any other issue, gets people’s dander up. I’m going to be straight forward and blunt here: It is no one’s decision but my own on what I can and cannot do with my body. The government has no right to limit my ability to get an abortion, Plan B, or birth control pills. The government should stay completely out of all of it, except to regulate the facilities and drug companies just like they do with every other clinic/hospital/whatever and drug company. I am over 18 and therefore no one can limit my choices just because they think it’s wrong.
I know this goes directly against the teachings of the Church. I am aware and believe that all life is precious. But I also don’t believe that anything that cannot survive outside the womb is a baby, with rights. I don’t believe that birth control pills are different than any other contraceptive, or any other drug on the market. I believe that the Lord gave me free will and this is way of exercising it. If that makes me liberal, well then I guess I am.
Welfare is a tricky thing, almost as tricky as reproductive rights. I like welfare, unemployment benefits, and food stamps. I know some really great, very smart people who have accepted government help when they couldn’t make ends meet. Do I believe that the system is flawed and people take advantage of it? Of course I do. However, Christ gave to the poor, asked us to give to the poor quietly and humbly (see Matthew 6:2). Sure that means giving to charities, volunteering, donating items, but isn’t paying your taxes to fund programs that help those who cannot help themselves a form of charity, a way to help the poor? “For you know the generous act of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that by his poverty you might become rich” (2 Corinthians 8:9 NRSV).
Being a Christian does not mean that you have to turn your back on what you believe to be right. Accepting Christ into your heart gives you a certain freedom, free will, so that you can think and make decisions on your own. If you vote or support causes just because you are a Christian and that’s what “Christians” support, then you are a hypocrite, and as Isaiah prophesied, “This people honors me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me” (Mark 7:6). The Lord does not want you to be a hypocrite. He wants you to be truthful to your beliefs and your faith. So yes, you can be a liberal Christian or you can be a conservative Christian, but no matter what you should know where you stand on the issues, so you can make the best choice for you politically, religiously, and in all aspects of life.
There was no one in this election who mirrored my rights or that I did not find hypocritical. Thus, I could not vote and stay true to myself – a Christian and a liberal.
*Disclaimer: These are MY opinions only and do not reflect the opinions of my family, friends, the Church, or any political parties. I only ask that you throw soft things at me. 😉 *