The Importance of Voting and Christian Involvement in the Political Arena

John Adams

We electors have an important constitutional power placed in our hands; we have a check upon two branches of the legislature . . . the power I mean of electing at stated periods [each] branch. . . . It becomes necessary to every [citizen] then, to be in some degree a statesman, and to examine and judge for himself of the tendency of political principles and measures. Let us examine, then, with a sober, a manly . . . and a Christian spirit; let us neglect all party [loyalty] and advert to facts; let us believe no man to be infallible or impeccable in government any more than in religion; take no man’s word against evidence, nor implicitly adopt the sentiments of others who may be deceived themselves, or may be interested in deceiving us.

[John Adams, The Papers of John Adams, Robert J. Taylor, ed.
(Cambridge: Belknap Press, 1977), Vol. 1, p. 81, from “‘U’ to the Boston Gazette”
written on August 29, 1763.]

 


Samuel Adams

Let each citizen remember at the moment he is offering his vote that he is
not making a present or a compliment to please an individual – or at least
that he ought not so to do; but that he is executing one of the most solemn
trusts in human society for which he is accountable to God and his country.

[Samuel Adams, The Writings of Samuel Adams, Harry Alonzo Cushing,
editor (New York: G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 1907), Vol. IV, p. 256, in the Boston
Gazette
 on April 16, 1781.]

 

Nothing is more essential to the establishment of manners in a State than
that all persons employed in places of power and trust be men of unexceptionable
characters. The public cannot be too curious concerning the character of public
men.

[Samuel Adams, The Writings of Samuel Adams, Harry Alonzo Cushing,
editor (New York: G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 1907), Vol. III, p. 236-237, to James
Warren on November 4, 1775.]

 


Matthias Burnett

Consider well the important trust . . . which God . . . [has] put into your
hands. . . . To God and posterity you are accountable for [your rights and
your rulers]. . . . Let not your children have reason to curse you for giving
up those rights and prostrating those institutions which your fathers delivered
to you. . . . [L]ook well to the characters and qualifications of those you
elect and raise to office and places of trust. . . . Think not that your interests
will be safe in the hands of the weak and ignorant; or faithfully managed
by the impious, the dissolute and the immoral. Think not that men who acknowledge
not the providence of God nor regard His laws will be uncorrupt in office,
firm in defense of the righteous cause against the oppressor, or resolutly
oppose the torrent of iniquity. . . . Watch over your liberties and privileges
– civil and religious – with a careful eye.

[Matthias Burnett, Pastor of the First Baptist Church in Norwalk, An
Election Sermon, Preached at Hartford, on the Day of the Anniversary Election,
May 12, 1803
 (Hartford: Printed by Hudson & Goodwin, 1803), pp. 27-28.]

 


Frederick Douglass

I have one great political idea. . . . That idea is an old one. It is widely
and generally assented to; nevertheless, it is very generally trampled upon
and disregarded. The best expression of it, I have found in the Bible. It
is in substance, “Righteousness exalteth a nation; sin is a reproach to any
people” [Proverbs 14:34]. This constitutes my politics – the negative and
positive of my politics, and the whole of my politics. . . . I feel it my
duty to do all in my power to infuse this idea into the public mind, that
it may speedily be recognized and practiced upon by our people.

[Frederick Douglass, The Frederick Douglass Papers, John Blassingame,
editor (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1982), Vol. 2, p. 397, from a speech
delivered at Ithaca, New York, October 14th, 1852.]


Charles Finney

[T]he time has come that Christians must vote for honest men and take consistent
ground in politics or the Lord will curse them. . . . Christians have been
exceedingly guilty in this matter. But the time has come when they must act
differently. . . . Christians seem to act as if they thought God did not see
what they do in politics. But I tell you He does see it – and He will bless
or curse this nation according to the course they [Christians] take [in politics].

[Charles G. Finney, Lectures on Revivals of Religion (New York:
Fleming H. Revell Company, 1868), Lecture XV, pp. 281-282.]


James Garfield

Now more than ever the people are responsible for the character of their
Congress. If that body be ignorant, reckless, and corrupt, it is because the
people tolerate ignorance, recklessness, and corruption. If it be intelligent,
brave, and pure, it is because the people demand these high qualities to represent
them in the national legislature. . . . [I]f the next centennial does not
find us a great nation . . . it will be because those who represent the enterprise,
the culture, and the morality of the nation do not aid in controlling the
political forces.

[James A. Garfield, The Works of James Abram Garfield, Burke Hinsdale, editor (Boston: James R. Osgood and Company, 1883), Vol. II, pp. 486, 489, “A Century of Congress,” July, 1877.]

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