Is our growing lack of faith eroding our faith in electionsMay 10, 2019
I want to bring two headlines into conversation with one another and ask the question: how might the lack of faith among the electorate be connected to the growing lack of faith in elections?
U.S. News reports a growing distrust in the elections with the headline: A Growing Lack of Faith in Elections. We are reminded that Russia’s meddling is strategic, intentionally seeking to undermine the foundations of Western democracies. And how do you do that? You undermine the foundations of faith people have in their government, its systems, safeguards and ultimately its form. Michael Bitzer, a politics and history professor quoted in the piece says, “I think the combination of Russian interference [nationally] and the recent election fraud in the (North Carolina) 9th has probably taken a pretty good hit on voter confidence. And probably voters are thinking long and hard about whom they believe.” He continues, “And it’s not just the political aspects. We’re getting into the integrity of the system itself.” Note the words: confidence, belief and integrity.
The second piece is written by Max Boot and published on the opinion page of the Washington Post: It’s time for us to have an unapologetic atheist in the Oval Office. Boot, who acknowledges that he is both an atheist and a Jew – which requires understanding Judaism not as a faith system but as a cultural ethnicity – points to what he sees as a problem: “Atheists are looked down upon because of the erroneous assumption that you can’t be good without God.” Boot thinks that least a quarter of Americans are actually atheists and that many things done in the name of God are not godly. I couldn’t agree more. The problem of misrepresentation of God is serious but that does not mean we abandon faith in God nor seek a system devoid of His influence.
Reading both pieces led me to ask why there is a growing lack of faith in the American electorate. We don’t just have a growing lack of trust in elections because of Russian interference. We have a growing lack of trust – or faith – in one another, our institutions, those in governance – and yes, God. We’ve all heard the statistics about the numeric decline in church attendance and the rise in the percentage of Americans who claim to be “nones” when it comes to allegiance to any recognizable faith system. But what affect does faithlessness in God have in terms of the faith we have in others – and our common life?
I contend the one actually grows in the soil of the other. Our common life is dependent upon our common faith in something outside or beyond ourselves. As a Christian, I point to God’s redemptive Gospel in Jesus Christ as the point of integration that makes sense of everything else. My worldview is keyed to Him. I am seeking to have Christ’s mind on the matters of this day – personally, in my family, business, community, nation and world. I think the way I think about political, social and deeply personal issues with a thinking rooted in Christ. My faith is not in nations – which I know rise and fall – but in a King and a Kingdom which are eternal. My confidence is not in systems of this world but in the sovereignty of God.
Remember the three words we highlighted earlier: belief, confidence, integrity. What do you believe and what is the basis for those beliefs? In what or in whom do you place your confidence? Is that a fixed, secure, immovable, eternal, personal reality or a figment of your own imagining? And what is the point of integration of your life? If its you, sorry, but it won’t hold. None of us and not even all of us together are substantial enough to serve as our own point of integration. Its why godless societies fail and why deistic societies – even if their deities are contrived – endure.
It really is a game of thrones out there but that global, political game of thrones is won or lost in the game of thrones being played out right now in every human heart. Boot might imagine that he wants an apologetic atheist in the Oval Office but I do not. And my vote counts as much as his in the next presidential election. My vote will be guided by the worldview that seeks first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness – and knows that the kingdoms of this world will all – one day – pass away.