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June 04, 2004



Ah, but you've forgotten, "if you don't vote, you have no right to complain." I know that's true 'cuz I saw it on a bumper sticker.

Jonathan Dresner

If government were still mostly about taxation for defense, I'd find the Mennonite position more plausible, but so much of what government does shapes so much of how we live that I have more sympathy with the All Saints position. I don't support trying to infuse the government with Christian spirit, of course (http://hnn.us/blogs/entries/5370.html) but it seems to me that a faith which seeks to remake the world without taking the state into account as both a subject and object of action is missing a big piece of the puzzle.

The orthodox Mennonite position reminds me of much of Rabbinic law. In order to ensure that the Torah is not violated, rabbis "build a fence around the torah" and prohibit more than is strictly forbidden in order to ensure that we do not wander into sin. For example, the prohibition against meat and milk (goats and goat milk, actually) was extended in late medieval times to include a prohibition against eating chicken with milk. Chickens don't produce milk, but it was feared that someone might either think the Jews were violating the law or that Jews might mistakenly violate the law thinking that it was chicken.

Similarly, the Mennonite prohibition against engagement with the state is based on the fear that the state might prove idolatrous, and so whole avenues of community involvement are shut off to prevent a 'maybe.'


Indeed, the relationship with the state is a complex one, and few Anabaptists (with the exception of groups like Bruderhof and the Amish) would advocate for total separation.

But there's a difference between community involvement and voting. One can work with the state for good; voting is the process of choosing leaders of the state. There's a major distinction there.

I think apathy is a sin. Despair is also a sin. Failing to vote for one of those reasons is indeed to sin; refusing to vote out of a conviction that following Christ requires that refusal is another thing altogether.

Joy Paul

Thanks for pushing the anabaptist viewpoint on this issue. Many Baptists today really do not understand the real issue of separation of church and state and often give tacit approval to trying to build a "Christian society" in our nation.

I agree with your statement that apathy when it comes to voting is wrong. I will be one of those this fall who does not vote. Believe me, it is not because of apathy. I generally favor the more conservative view point, but can't bring myself to vote for the conservatives who are almost always anti-gay.

I believe my stand is consistent with your point, although I arrived at it from a slightly different point of view.

Ralph Luker

Excellent post, Hugo.

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