The Theology of Voting: Our Vote is Our Voice
September 9, 2022
On September 1, President Biden delivered a speech in Philadelphia on the critical state of democracy. He said,” I believe America is at an inflection point, one of those moments that determine the shape of everything that’s to come after. And now, America must choose to move forward or to move backwards, to build a future or obsess about the past, to be a nation of hope and unity and optimism or a nation of fear, division and of darkness.”
At this crucial time in our country’s history, our faith calls us to join together to defeat those who would withhold the full rights of democracy from some citizens based on race, ethnicity, or other arbitrary distinctions. We, the people, especially people of faith, must fulfill our moral responsibility to get involved in the public square and not only cast our own votes but also safeguard the franchise for all citizens and help as many people as possible to cast their votes as well. Our democracy is in a critical state and ‘we the people’ are the only ones who can save it!
Most importantly, as Catholics, when we vote, we must use our prudential judgement and our political power to elect people who will safeguard the right to vote for all citizens.
Our vote is our voice and right now, we have to raise our collective voice and overcome these anti-democracy forces once and for all. If we fail this time, we might wake up one morning and find we no longer live in a pluralistic democratic society, but an autocracy enforced by the political and financial power of a select group of people who fundamentally do not believe in democracy at all.
As Catholics, it matters that we vote and it matters how we vote. People of faith are called to use their prudential judgement to choose and critique our political leaders and the laws they pass, so that we build a society where everyone is respected and valued, everyone can exercise agency over their own lives, and everyone can contribute to the common good.
We are called to care not just about our own personal preferences but also about how elections will affect those who are poor or economically disadvantaged, those who need access to quality healthcare and decent housing, those who are immigrants in our midst trying to find a safe harbor and a place for their families to thrive, those who need to earn a fair wage and have decent working conditions, those who are disabled and anyone in need of care, all those who are marginalized in any way. Justice and our faith demand it.
Ultimately, we participate in our democracy not just because we are citizens but because of what we believe about God and each other. We know from the parable of the Last Judgement that God is not just concerned with the hereafter. God is concerned with the ‘here and now’. So, here and now, we must honor the Imago Dei in each of us and use our vote to act in solidarity with our sisters and brothers if we want a democracy that brings life for all.