Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Polling us apart?

From Eastern Mennonite University, Harrisonburg, VA 22802, USA
Photo: Ken Wilson, under CC lic.
It's mid-term election day and I'm astounded by the amount of Facebook swag being proudly displayed by many of my friends exercising their civic right to do so. There is no such digital reward for people like me...

After having voted in all presidential elections since I was eligible to do so (2000), I've spent a good healthy portion of this year thinking about - to use a phrase borrowed from a small John Howard Yoder book - the Christian witness to the state. Early on, for a complex of reasons I won't get into in this post: I decided not to vote this in this year's mid-term election. I feel a profound sense of peace about this (not just today, but over the course of the year).

To keep this post short, I'll simply point to an excellent 2005 essay by Mennonite historical scholar, John Roth, which was written in the wake of the 2004 presidential elections. (Thx to my seminary friend on F'book who pointed me here...)

Polls Apart by John Roth

Roth's four points are worth quickly listing here:
  1. Not voting in the presidential election might be understood as a practical expression of our pacifist convictions.
  2. From the perspective of an Anabaptist Christian, differences among the presidential candidates are illusory.
  3. Voting our faith represents “Constantinian logic.”
  4. The individualism and privacy of voting is in sharp tension with our communal understanding of faith.
  5. Not voting in national elections may have a symbolic and pedagogical value.
Did you vote today? Why or (more interestingly) why not?

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