The Historical books of the Old Testament record a sometimes confusing mixture of good and bad kings in Israel and Judah. The kings either led the people to renew their faithfulness to God’s Covenant or led the people in rebellion against Him.
When the faithful kings led the people in the ways of God, the land was blessed. When the unfaithful kings led the people in sin the land was cursed, and God allowed their enemies to come in and overrun them. This was not a political problem; it was a spiritual problem. The Old Testament is theological history.
And so it is today. Our leaders in civil government will either lead us in the ways of God or they will lead us in rebellion against God. It’s not that people get up and say, “Let’s rebel against God.” Rather, they get up and say, for example, “Marriage is not necessarily between a man and a woman, and we want to pass laws to legitimize gay marriages.” Or they will say, “I’m pro-choice. A woman has the right to abort her child.”
It’s no better than King Ahab setting up sacred pillars to Baal and giving the people an opportunity for false worship.
Great men of God had the opportunity to challenge kings who departed from God’s law. You and I in our nation have the opportunity not only to challenge them but to choose them.
Yet too many Christians are not even registered to vote; polls in the 2000 elections, in fact, showed only half of Christians registered, and only half of those going to the voting booth. Yet our participation in the election process is an obligation for us. To take part in this process is a virtue. It is not a virtue to stay home and just pray on election day. We’ve got to get out there. Here’s what our bishops have written on the subject:
“We encourage all citizens, particularly Catholics, to embrace their citizenship not merely as a duty and privilege, but as an opportunity meaningfully to participate in building the culture of life. Every voice matters in the public forum. Every vote counts. Every act of responsible citizenship is an exercise of significant individual power…We get the public officials we deserve. Their virtue or lack thereof is a judgment not only on them, but on us” (1998, Living the Gospel of Life, n.34).
Various national Christian organizations are preparing to join Priests for Life to announce National Voter Registration Sundays. This is simply a way to encourage pastors to do what any Church is entitled to do: to give their congregation an opportunity to register to vote, if they are not registered already. It only takes five minutes, filling out some information about one’s name, address, and citizenship. The first four Voter Registration Sundays will be June 15, September 7, November 9, and January 18. Interested pastors and parish volunteers will be given guidance on how to proceed. See www.priestsforlife.org/elections for more information!
Fr. Pavone is the Founding Director of Priests for Life. You may contact Priests for Life at PO Box 141172, Staten Island, NY 10314; Tel: 888-PFL-3448 or 718-980-4400; Fax: 718-980-6515; Email: firstname.lastname@example.org; Website: www.priestsforlife.org.