A Weblog Dedicated to the Discussion of the Christian Faith and 21st Century Life

A Weblog Dedicated to the Discussion of the Christian Faith and 21st Century Life
I do not seek to understand that I may believe, but I believe in order to understand. For this also I believe, –that unless I believed, I should not understand.-- St. Anselm of Canterbury (1033-1109)

Friday, October 28, 2016

Quakers and Voting

You may not agree with everything in this article. I don't. But it should help all followers of Jesus to consider that as the church--as kingdom citizens-- our relationship to the nation state is secondary to our primary allegiance as God's kingdom people.
Why Quakers Stopped Voting

Paul Buckley October 1, 2016

Voting creates a contractual relationship. In exchange for the right to vote, the voter confers legitimacy on the resulting government. Voters grant the election winners the right to act on their behalf. The government speaks in the name of all, not just those who favored the victors. Friends in the eighteenth century realized one implication of voting was that when the resulting government waged war, it was entitled to act in the name of all those who voted. Every voter bore an equal share of guilt for the blood spilled. To Friends, voting ensnared them in an inherently violent and corrupt system. Complete withdrawal seemed the only acceptable option.

There is another element to this decision. From its earliest days, the Society of Friends saw itself as called to an alternative way of living-- to model what they called the kingdom of heaven on earth. The Quaker community testified that people should treat all others as vessels for that of God. It demonstrated that a society did not have to be founded on violence and coercion. When people follow the guidance of the Inward Light as best they are able, they become servants of the one God and together form the blessed community. Voting would subordinate them to the authority of the state-- they would be serving two masters: God and the government.

Withdrawing from government service, politicking, and voting did not require Friends to be indifferent to the outcomes of elections or the governments formed as a result. Nor did it disqualify them from petitioning lawmakers. In fact, modeling a different way to live uniquely empowered them to lobby the governments of their day. As William Penn said, "They were changed men themselves before they went about to change others." Having freed their slaves, they had the moral authority to advocate government action to abolish slavery. Having surrendered the shelter of armed force, they could urge the government to do likewise from a demonstrated position of experience.

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