Never underestimate the power of voting to change the political and moral landscape of a nation. The following article was written in a specifically Canadian context but the principles can be applied in any election, whether local, provincial or state, and also national.
In the 1988 Morgentaler decision, the Supreme Court of Canada struck down limited “restrictions” on abortion and urged Parliament to draft a new abortion law. As a result, Canada’s legal void makes our nation the only Western democracy to have no law or any federal regulations preventing abortion. A pregnant woman can therefore have her child killed for any reason, at any time during her pregnancy and almost always with taxpayer funding.
The cause of the unborn in Canada, whose lives are being snuffed out at the rate of twelve per hour, 100,000 per year, should be a matter close to the heart of every Christian. The issue of justice for these young lives ought to challenge us to a new degree of consistency in our Christian lives.
Let us ask ourselves the question: How is it possible to say we love God and fellow man, to say we are prepared for that certain face to face meeting with God and not consider something so obvious that it threatens to strike us in the face if we take one step closer? I refer to the words of Jesus in Matthew 25:40 which, in context, he speaks to explain how that final meeting with God will go down, specifically, how the sheep and goats will be divided.
“And the King will say, ‘I tell you the truth, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me!’
And indeed, we ARE doing it [abortion, i.e. killing] to them [the unborn]. We will not have the excuse of being ruled by a ruthless dictator like Hitler, who murdered six million in the Jewish holocaust. We will not have the excuse that Russians had with Stalin, who oppressed them as a tyrant while he murdered 10 million of his countrymen. No, we live in a democracy, and in a democracy each individual will answer to God for their part in our own abortion holocaust, because every Canadian gets a vote in what happens in Canada.
Democracy is really a wonderful blessing from God. Think of it. It took almost 1900 years of developing Christianity to produce the democratic nation of Canada. That’s 1900 years of God’s grace and wisdom flowing into the hearts and minds of Western civilization, including Christians, who all concede that the very best practical form of government in the world today and indeed in the history of humanity, is democracy.
And this is how we have repaid God for that blessing. Wicked men have perverted this wonderful gift of God through evils like abortion [and many, many more evils] and good people like Christians have surrendered to the evil. They have essentially given up. More than that, many of them fail to even vote at all. They refrain from doing one of the simplest, easiest and most practical things a Christian can do in this country in order to help implement a righteous standard in our most basic laws. There are other Christians who vote but give no thought or consideration whatever to the plight of the unborn while in the voting booth.
"Christianity in Germany bears a greater responsibility before God (for the Holocaust) than the National Socialists, the SS and the Gestapo."
Think of it: we have given the right to women to murder their unborn children! You may protest and say that you have done no such thing. However, even in the case of a highway accident, if you fail to stop and render assistance, you can be charged with a criminal offense. So we must ask: What have we done to render assistance? What have we done to help save these children? Have we considered doing anything at all? Apart from seeing the face of Jesus in these innocent unborns, shouldn’t we see it as a basic civic responsibility to defend our most vulnerable neighbour from being indiscriminately cut to pieces?
Proverbs 24:11 says:
There are multitudes of confused mothers and their helpless unborn who need our help and we have failed them terribly.“Rescue those who are being led away to death; hold back those staggering toward slaughter.”
Perhaps we like to think that we live a consistent Christian life, but do we really believe God will count it consistent that we knew of the horror of over 100,000 innocent unborns legally murdered yearly in the womb in Canada, and yet we were silent?
From the earliest teachings of the Scriptures found in the Old Testament, we are warned that if we value prosperity over justice, God will strip us of both. Moses told the Israelites, “Justice, and only justice, you shall pursue.” He follows this command with a promise “that you may live and possess the land which the LORD your God is giving you.” [Deut.16:20] In other words, if we want prosperity, we must choose leaders committed to justice.
In the Old Testament, God often sent people to find particular individuals to lead. Today, in our modern democracy, free citizens act as God’s agents for choosing leaders, and we do it by voting.
So how are Christians to accomplish this holy, God-given task?
We know that the unborn child is a human being. This knowledge is not simply Christian teaching but scientific fact. We also know that the child in the womb is as deserving of protection before the law as you or I. So we must ask ourselves: does the person I intend to vote for recognize these very simple and straightforward facts?
We must act on our Christian convictions and demand that our elected representatives respect them and act on them too. If we do not, then we must share the blame for creating victims of abortion (mother, child, extended family, society, our nation). We must demand that Parliament act to protect human life from the time of conception (fertilization) to natural death.
So here are 11 steps to achieve a consistent Christian [and pro-life] witness when you are voting. Careful attention to these 11 steps will not only ensure justice for the unborn but will certainly rescue you from possible condemnation by our Lord Jesus on that great Day of Judgment!
1. Be sure to actually vote
If you are Catholic, take note that The Catechism of the Catholic Church says,
If you anticipate a scheduling difficulty, arrange to vote at the advance polls just to minimize the risk of unforeseen obstacles arising on Election Day, like illness, car trouble, bad weather, unexpected family or work obligations, or just forgetfulness."Submission to authority and co-responsibility for the common good make it morally obligatory - to exercise the right to vote" (CCC 2240).
Bring your voting decisions to prayer. Pray for wisdom and guidance.
2. Know the candidates
You can vote with a clear conscience if you take the time beforehand to determine where the candidate stands on the issues.
3. Reject the Disqualified
Suppose a candidate came forward and said, “I support terrorism.” Would you say, “I disagree with you on terrorism, but what’s your health care plan?” Of course not. Rather, you would immediately consider that candidate as disqualified from public office. His position, allowing the killing of the public, is radically inconsistent with public service.
So it is with abortion. Abortion is no less violent than terrorism. Any candidate who says abortion should be kept legal disqualifies him/herself from public service. We need look no further; we need pay no attention to what that candidate says on other issues. Support for abortion is enough for us to decide not to vote for such a person.
Be especially aware of the sloganeering about human rights, which seems to be a favorite political ploy. A call for human rights while claiming authority to take away the most basic right – life – from unborn children is “false and illusory” precisely because if government can take away rights from some humans, then those rights aren’t human rights at all. Such a politician, in other words, is saying that rights like health care only belong to some humans, not to others.
If a politician cannot respect the life of a little baby, what does that say about their respect for your life, as well as for your many other legitimate concerns as a citizen?
4. Be sure to carefully qualify “slippery” candidates who claim to be “pro-life
Let's review several worn-out arguments and how to answer them.
"I respect your views, but I have to represent all the people."
Our response: That's what we're trying to say to you. If you neglect the unborn, you are not representing all the people. Canadian law currently excludes them from protection; we demand that they be included. A public servant cannot legitimately ignore an entire segment of the public that is being destroyed.
"I'm personally opposed to abortion, but can't impose my views on others."
Our response: This is not a matter of views, but of violence. The law is supposed to protect human life despite the views of those who would destroy it.
"The government should not be involved in such a personal decision as abortion."
Our response: The government got "too involved" in abortion when it claimed to have the authority to deprive some human beings of their right to life. Furthermore, when somebody's "choice" destroys somebody else's life, that choice is no longer merely a personal, private matter.
"Legislators should not be practicing medicine."
Our response: We're not asking you to practice medicine, but to prevent the abuse of medicine. The practice of medicine is regulated by all kinds of laws that protect the lives of patients. All we ask is that the unborn be included in that protection.
"Abortion is the law of the land."
Our response: The "law of the land" can be changed, just as it was changed regarding slavery and segregation. Leadership means seeing the injustices that others miss, and inspiring people to utilize the methods the law permits to make necessary changes.
"I support women's rights and health."
Our response: That is precisely why you should examine the evidence, which is more plentiful than ever, that abortion is destructive of women's health, and listen to the growing voices of those who have been harmed by abortion. That is also why you should examine how the abortion industry, through unregulated and dangerous clinics, continues to deceive and exploit women.
"Abortion is just one of many issues; I embrace a consistent ethic of life."
Our response: The foundation of a house is only one of many parts of the house, but it is essential in order to build the other parts. Among the many interrelated issues within a consistent ethic, abortion deserves the most urgent attention and priority.
"My office does not involve any decision-making about abortion."
Our response: Your position on abortion says a lot about your character and worldview. If you cannot stand up for the smallest of children, how will you stand up for the rest of us?
"Let's just agree to disagree."
Our response: We have the greatest respect for those who disagree with us. But when victims are oppressed, we don't sit back and "agree to disagree" with the oppressor. Rather, we intervene to save the victim. Abortion is not about beliefs; it's about bloodshed. Those who need protection need it despite the disagreement of others.
“Abortion is a constitutional right fully upheld by the Supreme Court.”
Our response: That is patently false. Judges did not find abortion to be a constitutional right but rather struck down the law on narrow and specialized grounds and called for Parliament to regulate it. But Parliament has ignored the Supreme Court’s request and has failed to address the fundamental issues of justice involved.
“Abortion is a provincial matter.”
Our response: This is the excuse of a federal politician to pass the buck. As a healthcare service, which is how abortion is perversely treated in Canada right now, abortion is funded and largely regulated by the provinces, but as a justice, i.e. criminal, issue it belongs squarely with the federal government.
“Abortion is a federal matter.”
Our response: This is the excuse of a provincial politician to pass the buck. Again, as a healthcare service, which is how abortion is perversely treated in Canada right now, abortion is funded and largely regulated by the provinces. Therefore provincial politicians are able to severely restrict funding and access if they adopt a determined approach.
“Abortion always needs to have exceptions for rape, incest, and where the mother’s health is in danger so it can never be banned by law.”
Our response: These are unnecessary “exceptions” that have powerful emotional appeal but which do not stand up to moral or logical scrutiny.
On the “exception” of rape and incest, first of all, statistics bear out the fact that conception during rape or incest is extremely rare. Secondly, women who find themselves pregnant in such cases deserve love and support, not the trauma of an abortion which studies have shown greatly compound the original outrageous indignities they have already suffered.
Although in the cases of rape and incest the circumstances of conception are traumatic, they cannot be used to invalidate the dignity of the life created, and therefore the disposal of that life by abortion is no more justified than in any other circumstance of abortion. The unborn child should not have to pay with his life for the crime of the father. In fact, when pro lifers accept these “exceptions”, it undermines the pro-life principle that the unborn are full-fledged members of the human race and thus deserve every legal protection that the rest of us enjoy.
On the “exception” of a mother’s health being in danger, traditional medical ethics and sound pro-life principles answer the question. A medical intervention designed to prevent the death of the mother that inadvertently causes the death of the child in the womb (ectopic pregnancy or cancer of the uterus), is not considered an abortion and is therefore not illicit.
5. Distinguish Policy from Principle
Most disagreements between candidates and political platforms do not have to do with principle, but rather with policy. For example, it is a basic principle that people have a right to the safety of their own lives and possessions. That's why we have to fight crime. We don't see candidates campaigning on opposite sides of that principle, with some saying, "Fight Crime" and other defending "The Right to Crime." What we find is agreement on the principle, but disagreement on the best policies to implement the principle.
But when a policy dispute involves questioning whether people deserve that protection in the first place, the policy is the principle. To allow abortion, which is the killing of a human child in the womb, is to break the principle that every human life deserves protection.
6. Weigh other issues properly
There are many issues that have to be considered in elections, but not all have equal weight. Once voters have disqualified those candidates who violate fundamental principles, they need to look at the wide spectrum of issues affecting the proper care of human life and promotion of human dignity, such as health care, jobs and the economy, poverty, global warming, etc.
The waging of war troubles the consciences of many voters. There may be a legitimate diversity of opinion among Christians about waging a “just war” but not however with regard to abortion. The bottom line, in other words, is that support for war does not automatically or necessarily violate fundamental moral principles; support for abortion and euthanasia always do. Therefore, supporting these latter policies is not ever an option for the Christian.
7. Keep your loyalty focused on Jesus
When you vote, you say something about where your loyalties are. There is nothing wrong with being loyal to a candidate or to a political party. But there is something very wrong if your loyalty to either is stronger than your loyalty to Jesus Christ. Ask yourself, "Is there a position that my party can take that would prevent me from voting the party line?" Framed in another way, the question is, "Is my loyalty to the Christian faith stronger than my loyalty to any political party?"
8. Choosing between parties and candidates
It is not parties, nor party leaders, that directly represent people, but rather candidates. Each candidate is of course responsible to consider carefully which party he/she belongs to but it should be obvious that a truly pro-life candidate will not take lightly the party he belongs to, and all the more so if he realizes that his party treats lightly the paramount issue of life. For example, it will be a decisive factor to a genuine pro-life candidate whether his/her party and party leader will permit a free vote, rather than insist on the party’s or leader’s policies.
Use proper criteria as outlined above to evaluate a candidate and then vote only for that pro-life candidate who is properly qualified. The party affiliation is a secondary consideration and would only be a factor if there were two or more equally qualified pro-life candidates from which to choose [a rare situation indeed!]. In such a case, the candidates’ stands on other important issues can be taken into consideration.
9. What happens if there is no pro-life candidate?
Write in blue ballpoint pen across the ballot ‘no pro-life candidate’ or ‘no pro-life Liberal/Conservative’. When the ballots are being counted, the inside scrutineers for each party’s candidate see the ballots and reflect on how many votes were lost by their party because the candidate did not reflect the convictions of those voters. The message is loud and clear to the party, relayed by its scrutineers.
10. Support the candidate with more than your vote!
Additional activities include donating to the campaign, volunteering for the campaign, handing out literature for the candidate, making phone calls and visits on the candidate's behalf, sending emails, using yard signs and bumper stickers, and praying for the candidate.
Elections, after all, are not contests between candidates. They are contests between two or more teams. And it is the team that has more active members doing all these things that, in the end, will bring in the most votes.
11. Mobilize as many other voters as possible!
Each of us has one vote, but each of us can mobilize hundreds, even thousands of votes.
But adopt a wise strategy. Rather than spend hours trying to convince one person to vote the right way, spend that time and energy reminding dozens of people - who are already in agreement with you on the issues - to get out and cast their vote. Go catch the easier ones and bring the candidate to victory!
Having done all this, rejoice in a clear conscience, and trust the Lord to bring about victory and justice for the unborn!
“All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.”
This article has been compiled using helpful insights from a number of sources, most notably from the booklet “Voting with a Clear Conscience” by Fr. Frank Pavone.
For a wide range of philosophical insights into the Christian's involvement in politics and the pro-life application thereof, be sure to visit Inquisition.ca to read Pure As Doves, But Dumb As Dodos