By Jesse T. Jackson -September 23, 2021
ChurchLeaders recently interviewed Paul Isaacs, vice president of national outreach for My Faith Votes, to get his thoughts on why voting as a Christian in America matters. My Faith Votes is a “non-partisan movement that motivates, equips and activates Christians in America to vote in every election, transforming our communities and influencing our nation with biblical truth.” The organization calls on Christians to “Pray, Think and Vote” to protect four core pillars of faith, which it names as “religious freedom, the sanctity of life, strong families and marriages, and compassion and support for those in need.” My Faith Votes says it aims to reach Christians to “stand boldly for these values in every election and in every community and city across our nation.”
Isaacs is a graduate of Bob Jones University and has served as a local church pastor, college minister and director of collegiate recruiting for The Navigators. He’s also the president of Save the Storks, a pro-life organization. He has served alongside prominent Christians such as Kirk Cameron, Matt Hammitt (former Sanctus Real lead singer), and Museum of the Bible founder Steve Green.
ChurchLeaders: Why does it matter for a Christian in America to vote?
Isaacs: As a Christian, I think one of the best ways to come to a reasonable answer is to look at what the Bible says. At this point, you may think, “The Bible never commands or instructs us to vote.” But let’s start with another question before answering the one being asked. Is voting a good thing? I think the entire world would agree that the power to have a say in the direction of their local, state and national government is a blessing. Voting is a gift. It is a peaceful way for Christians to promote Kingdom values that are good for all, even those who are not Christians. People from all over the world have come to the United States because of opportunities and freedoms that living here affords, and those opportunities exist because the people have the power over the government through the vehicle of the ballot box. But I’ll go even deeper than that in my explanation. If Christians don’t vote with a Biblical worldview, then who is voting, what worldview is being promoted, and what policies are being enacted as a result?
I believe that, as a Christian, [voting] is important for two overarching reasons.
First, it demonstrates love for your neighbor. Jesus told us in Matthew 22 the second greatest commandment is to “love your neighbor as yourself.” Using our voice and our vote as Christians to influence the political landscape of our country is one way we can show love to our neighbor (Galatians 6:10).
Second, Christians must bring the influence of faith into all aspects of life. James 2:26 says, “As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead.” As we act on our faith, living out biblical principles in every area of our lives, we become a source for good in our communities and our nation. The purpose of voting is not to advance one political party’s ideology; the objective is to use our vote to advance biblical truth for the good of our communities (Jeremiah 29:7).
I conclude my answer by addressing the often-used and somewhat trendy argument that goes something like this: “You can’t legislate morality.” A simple response to that is this: Someone’s morality is being legislated. The question is ‘whose?’ How can freedom survive without moral restraints? Look at nations in the world where women are subjugated and abused. There are countries where it is acceptable to sell children for sex. Read the history of recent Europe and look at what happened when Christians did not stand against injustice and tyranny? By that I mean Germany in the 1930’s and the unwillingness of the Church in Germany to speak out against Hitler. Bonhoeffer seemed to be the lone voice “crying in the wilderness,” but there was no opportunity to vote then. I’ll say it again: voting is a gift. It is a good thing.
“Churches do not have to endorse candidates or political parties (God doesn’t ride on the backs of elephants or donkeys), but the church must have a voice at the voting booth to stand for biblical values.”
As Americans, we are allowed the unique opportunity to influence our laws. If we, as Christians, begin to remove ourselves from politics, this opens the door for moral decay and culture shift, inevitably changing the direction of a government that honors God.
And so, as promised earlier in my response, we go to the Bible in James 4:17 and read, “So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin.” That is sobering.
ChurchLeaders: How would you reassure Christians who question whether it’s worth it to vote?
Isaacs: I can tell you this: It has never been about how many votes a candidate gets to win an election. It’s always been about who counts the ballots. The Bible tells us that the heart is deceitfully wicked. As Americans living in a fallen world, we will always be forced to guard the integrity of elections and that is not a partisan statement. It simply doesn’t matter who is in the majority. Power corrupts and the temptation to get it or hold on to it causes many people to do things that compromise election integrity.
With that said, there are many people working on the security and integrity of elections. We are doing our due diligence at My Faith Votes. You can check out what we are doing right now at http://www.electionintegritynow.org.
As we work to safeguard the integrity of elections, let’s make every effort to pray for every vote to be accounted for honestly. I believe the enemy, Satan, wants to discourage God’s people in this area, but Paul tells us to not grow weary in doing good (voting is included in that) because we will reap a harvest if we do not faint.
ChurchLeaders: What is National Voter Registration Sunday?
Isaacs: National Voter Registration Sunday is about encouraging Christians to bring the solutions of their faith into the ballot box. Registration is the critical first step in the voting process. We want to challenge every church in America to hold at least one voter registration drive each year, whether that’s in person, online, or both. By hosting a Voter Registration Drive at your church, you can help people register to vote, request an absentee ballot, access voting information, and receive election reminders so that they never miss a single election.
The goal of each Voter Registration Drive is to equip and resource your church to increase voter turnout. Why? Because our faith has something essential to contribute to the issues in our communities and in our nation.
National Voter Registration Sunday is September 26, 2021; more information can be found here.
ChurchLeaders: Explain whether you believe churches should be engaged in politics.
Isaacs: Churches are already involved, whether they admit it or not. What do I mean by that? The word “politics” in Greek means “affairs of the city.” Should a church be part of the affairs of the city in which it meets? Should a church feed the poor? Should a church seek to have a voice in the arts, media, education, family, but abandon other spheres of influence like government and the economy? If the church does abandon it, who or what are we abandoning it to? If God cares about the people in the farming communities, the cities, the states, and nation states, why would we avoid being salt and light as residents of these places?
Our founders believed that our nation must be influenced by those who practice solid faith. One of the founding fathers of the United States, Patrick Henry, is quoted as saying “The great pillars of all government and of social life [are] virtue, morality, and religion. This is the armor, my friend, and this alone, that renders us invincible.” Churches do not have to endorse candidates or political parties (God doesn’t ride on the backs of elephants or donkeys), but the church must have a voice at the voting booth to stand for biblical values.
As to issues of justice, the church is political, whether it speaks or doesn’t. Dietrich Bonhoeffer said, “Silence in the face of evil is itself evil: God will not hold us guiltless. Not to speak is to speak. Not to act is to act.” Bonhoeffer, understood that the true Church does not have the option of avoiding the “affairs of the city.” If Christians choose silence, it does not absolve them of responsibility.
Perhaps even more poignant is what the late Francis Shaeffer said when he boldly stated, “Every abortion clinic should have a sign in front of it saying, ‘Open by the permission of the church.’ ” Do we bristle at that thought? Perhaps that statement makes us uncomfortable, but it gets at the heart of the question. Should Christians be involved in the affairs of the city? Is abortion an affair of the city? I think it is. Is educating the next generation an affair of the city? I think it is. Should the church concern itself with this injustice, economic issues, and the moral issues of the day? I’ll let you decide how to answer that. I truly hope my point is clear.
ChurchLeaders: How can the church encourage non-voters to register on National Voter Registration Sunday?
Isaacs: I think we should not try to convince people. I think we should take the posture of serving our pastor and the church. Jesus said in Mark 10:45 that He didn’t come to be served, but to serve. It’s natural to be passionate about our responsibility to vote as Christians, but the thing that will stop it dead in its tracks is a posture of aggression, shaming, or condemnation.
The other thing that will go a long way to seeing this come to fruition is to prepare well for the meeting with your leaders. At My Faith Votes, we have put together a helpful guide that will prepare you with a plan for the event, a free toolkit with materials, resources and videos for the promotion, and information about options for your church registration. Those two things — a servant’s posture and sound preparation — will be beneficial as you seek to serve your local church in this way.
Paul thank you so much for your time and giving us at ChurchLeaders a biblical pathway into why we as Christians should find it important to vote.