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Christian Citizenship Council
of San Diego
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“When the righteous thrive, the people rejoice; when the wicked rule, the people groan.” (Prov 29:2)

Equipping the Church to Vote

Chapter 4: Voting Statistics

“So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for
the glory of God.” (1 Cor 10:31)

Early in my life I was told there were three types of lies: “Lies, darned lies, and statistics”.  Unfortunately, over time, I’ve found this to be quite accurate.  Be that as it may, a few statistics seem to be appropriate when discussing elections, and the importance of a person participating in this precious right we have.
I can’t vouch for the accuracy of the listing below, but I know it’s been quoted numerous times on Christian Coalition pamphlets as well as in other publications.

  • One vote in 1868 saved Andrew Johnson from impeachment
  • One half vote average per precinct in 1960 gave John F. Kennedy victory over Richard Nixon
  • One vote or less per precinct decided Averell Harriman’s gubernatorial election (1954), George McGovern’s Senatorial campaign (1960), and John Warner’s Senate race (1978) 1

A little closer in history, everyone can remember the Presidential Election of 2000.  Of 101,455,899 votes cast nation-wide for either George W. Bush or Al Gore, 50,456,002 went to Bush (47.87%), and 50,999,897 (48.38%) went to Gore 2.  But the ½ of 1% edge that Al Gore had in the popular vote didn’t carry the day – the 537 more votes Bush received in Florida (0.009% margin) determined the ultimate outcome.  Does every vote count?  In this election, every single vote in Florida became nationally important.  For Christians, we know that each decision we make counts, including every vote that we cast.  For this particular history making election the importance of every Christian’s involvement and active engagement in exercising citizenship rights became even more pronounced.  But this isn’t the end of the story.  Let’s take a closer look at who voted and what some of the implications are for us.

It’s been reported that among adults, “born again Christians” are generally more likely to be registered to vote (85%) than are non-Christians (75%).  What is interesting, however, is that for the two major political parties in the United States, born again adults are equally registered as Democrats and Republicans (35% each).  Another interesting fact is about 43% of born again Christian voters consider themselves to be conservatives, which was seven times higher than the number that described themselves as liberal 3.  It’s difficult to find reliable statistics on the percentage of Christians registered to vote, and how many vote once registered.  If nation-wide statistical percentages give any insight, we find in the Presidential election of 2000, there were about 205,815,000 eligible voters in the United States.  Of these, 76% were registered, but only 51.3% of all eligible voters actually voted.  This is only a little over half of all that could potentially vote.  Considering the number of elections (candidates and propositions) that are decided by an incredibly close margin, this is very disturbing in many ways.

A Harris poll conducted in September 2000 gave some insights into how people generally align themselves when it comes to politics and voting. Respondents identified themselves “a lot” as: male or female voters (44%); political party members (29%); a particular age group (26%); a member of a particular religion (24%); or as a member of a racial or ethnic group (20%).  This is quite a commentary on the place religious convictions plays on a person’s political leaning and voting decisions.  Is it any wonder Biblical principles are not a driving factor in selecting who will rule over us, or what laws should govern the land? 4

What do we make of the above?  First, it’s obvious a single vote will rarely change the course of a particular election.  However, if the estimates are true that upwards of 57 million (or more) born again Christians live in the United States, this can be a powerful force for righteousness.  What’s particularly disturbing, however, is the lack of any particular unity in voting patterns amongst this community.  Either this is a result of believing there is no substantive difference between the major political parties, or it reflects an appalling lack of well informed, Biblically based Christian decisions in the voting booth.

Though both of the above causes can be true, I believe from my own experience in dealing with many different churches and individual believers that the latter is the most crucial.  If the foundation is weak or non-existent, how can a Christian be expected to make a decision any different than anybody else.  As a matter of fact, I personally believe it may generally be better for a believer not to vote than to vote in an ignorant way.  Why?  Because an ignorant vote may be based upon feelings and emotion instead of deeply held convictions, reasoning, and understanding rooted on the solid foundation of Biblical truths.

The media would want you to believe Christians are an ignorant, uneducated lot, led around by the nose.  We are portrayed as clueless about the major problems facing our culture and around the world, and in many cases we are actually pointed to as the reason for the problem to begin with.  I would contend we are typically very knowledgeable about the way of salvation, what God requires of us as husbands and wives, mothers and fathers, and how we are to work hard and live a righteous life.  Where we fail, however, is being knowledgeable about how to apply a Biblical worldview to the issues and problems society experiences around us.  Remember Proverbs 11:14

“For lack of guidance a nation falls…”

I believe it’s time for churches to include citizenship training in their arsenal of ministries to equip believers.  But this training must be from a Biblical worldview perspective and not from a vested, narrow self interested perspective.  The ballot box is just one small component of our arsenal of weapons to influence the world, but it’s an important one.  I believe Christians, of all people, are called to be examples of good citizens – and good citizens vote knowledgeably.  Only then, in my mind, will each vote truly count.

1 “Your Voice Matters” by James Dobson, October/November 2004 issue of Focus on the Family Magazine
2 Federal Election Commission; “2000 Official Presidential General Election Results”;
3 Barna Research Ltd; “The Faith Factor in Election 2000: Christians Could Be a Swing Vote”; February 17, 2000;
4 Harris Poll of September 2000 as found at

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