The duty not to vote

Now, in this day and age, practically everyone I will ever meet here has the nominal power to influence the government of his or her nation by marking a piece of paper in a booth, i.e. voting. However, many nations have regrettably left the decision between which was the lesser of two evils (as the choice all too often is) to the people, who are “ever easy to deceive and to lead into every excess”, to quote Pius VI. The various sections Church, of course, have responded by pointing out the magnitude of the evil of the above-mentioned greater evil. They often conclude by saying that we should vote for the lesser evil, because the other choice is the greater evil.

Now, I’m not here to question these arguments (in fact, I agree with most of them), but the conclusion. Here are some reasons why I think that, as a matter of principle, Christians and Catholics in particular have a duty to not vote:

  1. By participating in an election, what do you affirm? Let’s say a community elects a decent member of government. Said member of government is thereby imbued with appropriate authority, and therefore, we are morally obliged to obey him, as St. Paul taught. However, let’s assume his opponent, who is an amalgation of every hellish sin one can imagine, won instead. There’s no way a person who pushes fanatically for the mass, industrialised murder of infants, elderly and sickly, yet refuses to deliver due justice to even the most heinous criminals, publicly sponsors every form of perversion imaginable, et cetera, can be given divine authority to abuse to compel his fellow men into the same sinful life. But if an election can imbue this candidate with authority, why can it not do the same to another? After all, the only deciding factor is who got more votes.

  2. Man were made in God’s own image, free to do as they pleased. The only entity to which they are subordinate was God. He alone could compel their wills. But the very idea of ‘the will of the people’ imbuing authority, a majority imposing their will on everyone else via a claim to divinely-issued authority, is evil and blasphemous. I bow to God alone, not to a mass of common people who may simply be one man more than my mass of common people. But isn’t that what democracy does? I therefore refuse to participate in such a system, which usurps God’s role as the source of all authority through his Church (I agree with Joseph de Maistre’s On The Pope here), by not voting.

What do you think?

Fortunately, that is not the option we face.

If Christians do not vote, the non-Christians and anti-Christians will rule us without opposition.

This “I’m too holy to make secular decisions” attitude is pure nonsense. Christians have a sacred responsibility to protect innocent human life, marriage and children, and religious freedom when they are under attack, as they are today.

I agree that it is important to vote. But I wish I felt that the will of the people supersedes the will of the corporate interests in our government.

Do you honestly believe that religious freedom is under attack? It seems to me that there is more freedom to practice one’s religion than ever before?

This. If I don’t even try to change what’s wrong, by voting in better people, then I am complicit in that wrong.

The people want to work but the present government has put so many restrictions on businesses that there are no jobs. Government does not create jobs. It does create bureaucracy and bureaucrats.

The HHS mandate gives you an example of how religious freedom will be changed to freedom to worship. There is a big difference. Russia, under communisim, has freedom to worship but does not have religious freedom.

Let me try to understand…

You will choose to not vote because you think we only have 2 choices? Have you seen the ballot? In my opinion there are too many candidates (over 20) on the ballot. Why would you not vote at all as opposed to voice your opinion toward another candidate? I understand that not voting for one of the top dogs is considered “throwing away your vote” but if we all voted our true conscience I think we would find our selves in a three or four party system. Worst case you will have “voted your conscience” right?:thumbsup:

It is attitudes like what you propose that have strengthened the 2 party system.


I don’t know about Germany, but religious freedom is very much under attack in the US.

In the States, we have read that Germany has had controversial court cases regarding circumcision, which, when prohibited, violates some religious beliefs.

I live in the far west suburbs of Chicago. And I see a lot of commercials for the candidates. I don’t know where anyone stands on any issue because they never say. It is just attacks. Once in a while someone may make a casual implication that he is for prosperity. But isn’t his opponent? And he doesn’t say how. All ads are one attack after another. Why would I vote for candidate A when candidate B had so many bad things to say about him? But then B is also bad too according to A. All the candidates are unclear on where they themselves stand on the issues. So the attacker comes off to me as an immature jerk and I cannot like or respect him either. Especially when the attacks usually are distorted. I often feel like they can all go to hell and the sooner the better. But we need to vote anyway and also to pray for this election that God’s choice, not mine, wins.

The priest celebrating this past Sunday’s Mass said that many men had died for the right for you to vote, and to not do so would be a sin. He went on to say that he would never tell anyone who to vote for, but that we needed to vote with a well formed conscience, understanding where the Church stands on the various issues. He then added that it is time for us Christians to take our rightful place in American society and that included exercising our right to influence public policy. I thought that all of that was spot on.

Moral duties concerning voting

With the development of popular government comes the duty of citizens to participate in their own government for the sake of the common good. Not to do so is to abandon the political process to those who do not have the common good in mind. Given the nature of democracies this inevitably leads to unjust laws and an unjust society. These may come about anyway, but they should not come about through the negligence of Christians, who would then share in the guilt.

This duty is chiefly exercised by voting, through which citizens elect their representatives and even determine by referendum the laws which will govern them. The Catechism of the Catholic Church states:

2239 It is the duty of citizens to contribute along with the civil authorities to the good of society in a spirit of truth, justice, solidarity, and freedom. The love and service of one’s country follow from the duty of gratitude and belong to the order of charity. Submission to legitimate authorities and service of the common good require citizens to fulfill their roles in the life of the political community.

2240 Submission to authority and co-responsibility for the common good make it morally obligatory to pay taxes, to exercise the right to vote, and to defend one’s country [Rom 13:7]:

[INDENT]Pay to all of them their dues, taxes to whom taxes are due, revenue to whom revenue is due, respect to whom respect is due, honor to whom honor is due. [Christians] reside in their own nations, but as resident aliens. They participate in all things as citizens and endure all things as foreigners… They obey the established laws and their way of life surpasses the laws… So noble is the position to which God has assigned them that they are not allowed to desert it. [Ad Diognetum 5: 5, 10]

The Apostle exhorts us to offer prayers and thanksgiving for kings and all who exercise authority, “that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life, godly and respectful in every way.” [1 Tim 2:2][/INDENT]

We Americans have been lazy about participating in our government. That is why large interests and lobbies have taken over on our behalf. It is easy to be lazy in such a blessed nation, when “the other guy” seems to be the one to run for office. “The other guy” is contributing to candidates so why should I? Well, we have given that “other guy” our own power and let go of our responsibility to participate in our nation’s civil structure, from the bottom up.

Yes, religious freedom is under attack! What rock have you been living under? Have you not heard about “Obamacare?” The laws that will force Catholic institutions to pay for contraception and abortions for their employees, thus violating to the CORE our own precepts of life from conception to natural death? The Church will never do that; thus, those agencies will simply cease to exist. It is a planned attack at the highest levels, from people who despise everything the Church stands for.

Not voting or voting 3rd party effectively cancels out your vote, leaving the better candidate vulnerable to defeat. The Church is clear about that false position of “I’ll just opt out this time.” If not voting means that the more evil candidate will win, then Catholics MUST vote, and vote for the opponent most likely to win.

I think your logic is faulty on both counts. Catholics who live in the world have a responsibility to reform the world and to reshape it with Christian values. Part of this responsibility in a democracy is to vote for the candidate who will do the most good, or the least evil, in accordance with Catholic principles. This election in the U.S. is not about the “lesser of two evils” but about which will do the least evil. There’s no greater evil than murder of the innocent, which one candidate openly supports.

To claim that utter evil will never be allowed by God to hold authority is to ignore history, and to therefore claim that one ought not vote on that account is to tempt God.

The second faulty premise is that only God should reign and therefore voting is in some way usurping His authority might play well with Jehovah’s Witnesses, but we are called to be good stewards of the land we live in.

A vote NOT cast could well be the vote which allows the most evil to triumph, and the sin of omission would be upon the soul who sat out the election.

As I heard one U.S. priest say decades ago. Be very sure that if (“every”) Catholic voted against Abortion in the Federal election…I assure you there would be know Abortion in this country. You might add the voice of every “devout” Christian denomination as well.

Isn’t that were the crux of the fault truly speaks. So what does that mean? Is it that many Catholics and Christian who claim to be who they are, are not what they claim to be.

There it is in a nut shell. We all have a responsibility if we are true to our Faith. And we will be judged by it. I despise making an ugly choice voting for the lessor of two evils.
Evil is Evil in my book. But as it has been broached in this thread as Catholics we have a moral duty to vote who will be the better leader.

I despised voting in my own country. It tears me apart inside with justified anger. But we have to make the right moral choice. Millions upon millions of innocent martyrs cry out to God unceasingly. We owe our voice and love for them in Christ Jesus our Savior.

Sorry, but I don’t know how you cannot know what a candidate is supporting especially Obama. We’ve had four years of his measures and more to come. Surely, you must know by now if you are in support of your money going for abortions, contraception, euthanasia, PBS, cuts in the military, bailouts, the increase and promotion of food stamp participation, increase in people receiving disability under SS, poor border control, blockage on drilling and becoming energy indepentent, and the HHS mandate.

If you are not getting through the news stations you are watching, switch. Also start reading and learn.

“The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”

― Edmund Burke

Go ahead and don’t vote, if that is your wish. But do not try to convince me that it is the moral high ground.


“Society in every state is a blessing, but government, even in its best stage, is but a necessary evil; in its worst state an intolerable one.”
Thomas Paine

“All that is necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing”
Leo Tolstoy’ in “War and Peace”

“‎Bad men need nothing more to compass their ends, than that good men should look on and do nothing.” - John Stuart Mill, Inaugural Address: Delivered to the University of St. Andrews, Feb. 1st 1867.

I think you are all wet. Jesus said to Pilate, “You would have no authority over me were it not given to you from above.” So much for #1. It also shoots down your second statement, “The only entity to which they are subordinate was God.” Everyone has an obligation to render to Caesar what is Caesar’s.

You may choose not to vote, but remember that by not voting, you will be helping to elect someone further from your views than the one you would have voted for if you did vote. This is true whether you are a conservative or liberal, and that’s why you have an obligation to vote.

:smiley: Thing is that that is attributed to Burke, but there’s no documentation. :shrug: It is on Tolstoy though, but they wonder about it since that was originally written in Russian and may not be a correct translation.

I completely agree that not voting is anything but the moral high ground and to not exercise the franchise not only fails one’s own best interests, but those of those disenfranchised members of society as well (The unborn, the mentally incompetent, and those not yet of voting age.):thumbsup:

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