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

Equipping the Church to Vote

Chapter 9: Voter Guides

“The sins of some men are obvious, reaching the place of judgment ahead of
them; the sins of others trail behind them.  In the same way, good deeds are
obvious, and even those that are not cannot be hidden.” (1 Tim 5:24-25)

Many churches use voter guides to inform their membership of stances candidates have taken on issues viewed as important to the Christian community.  Though challenged legally over the years, guides that treat all candidates equally with the same questions are able to continue to develop, publish and distribute their material each election.  Like any aid used to help make a decision, guides need to be objectively evaluated along with other information.  This chapter addresses advantages and disadvantages of guides, not to trivialize their importance, but to help place them in their proper context.

Advantages of Voter Guides

  • Without them, there is generally an appalling lack of objective investigation made into candidates and their positions on moral issues (Acts 6:3)
  • They provide a consistent level of information about each candidate seeking office as well as selected ballet measures (Job 13:9, 1 Tim 3:1-13)
  • Each candidate’s position is addressed as accurately as possible on issues of importance to the Christian community (Prov 5:21; Matt 6:33)
  • They address moral issues that will give insights into the candidates’ true character and decision predisposition (Matt 7:15-20)
  • They provide accountability of the candidate's positions on issues so comparisons can be made with their record in office afterwards (Ecc 5:1-7)
  • Many times a small percentage change in voting patterns can have significant impact on the results.  Guides can be the deciding factor
  • They provide a common format of response from all candidates uncluttered with rhetoric (Prov 10:19a)
  • They can provide a focus for the Christian community in the vacuum of anything else available
  • They provide a convenient summary that can be taken into polling booths

Possible Shortcomings of Voter Guides

  • Experience of the candidate for office is generally not addressed.  The user still needs to read about and calibrate on their qualifications (Prov 22:29; Rom 12:6-8)
  • Only a selected group of issues/questions is covered.  These may or may not be the ones of greatest concern to you, though some will be
  • Past candidate history does not ensure continued, consistent stance on a particular subject (bait and switch)(Psalm 118:8-9)
  • A solid moral stance may not imply expertise to operate effectively within the political structure, but it does help assess whether they are willing to stand for a righteous goal (Acts 4:13)
  • Some candidates may not have responded in time, or it was lost, therefore inadvertently giving the impression of refusing to respond
  • Sometimes the full text of the question asked of each candidate is not available, only a short summary statement of the issue.  This provides little opportunity to determine if it was a fair question or not
  • There is no opportunity for the candidate to give the reason for their response to a question, however, a solid "yes" or "no" could mean a great deal since the candidate is willing to commit one way or another and not waffle (Matt 5:37)
  • Voting records are not necessarily indicative of a person's stance, since proposed legislation may have had other "riders" that were offensive and caused the entire bill to be rejected
  • Use of the guide can become a crutch for a voter to lean on, instead of doing their own homework (Prov 21:5)
  • When organizations endorse candidates or ballet measures, they are generally single issue focused and may miss a larger context.  Also, many endorsements are provided strictly because of contributions made to the organization – not because of deeply held convictions
  • Some guides use conservative (or objective) sounding names to disguise their actual biased leaning (e.g., Nonpartisan Candidate Evaluation Group)

Besides certain well recognized Voter Guides, there are other sources of information you’ll probably receive either within or outside your church environment.  Whatever you have, it’s important for you to do your own homework.  One of the greatest failings of many voting Christians is that after waiting until the last minute, they pull out their trusty Voter Guides, and expect them to define exactly what to do.  This may be better than being swayed by last minute TV and radio candidate blitzes making “startling” new claims, but it isn’t fulfilling our responsibilities to be an informed voter.

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