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Electing Not to Vote: Christian Reflections on Reasons for Not Voting [Paperback]

By Ted Lewis (Editor)
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Item description for Electing Not to Vote: Christian Reflections on Reasons for Not Voting by Ted Lewis...

Description: Ethical discourse about the institution of voting rarely includes the option of abstaining for principled reasons. This collection of nine articles widens the discussion in that direction by giving readers a new question: At what point and on what grounds might one choose not to vote as an act of conscience? Contributors offer both ethical and faith-based reasons for not voting. For some, it is a matter of candidates not measuring up to high standards; for others it is a matter of reserving political identity and allegiance for the church rather than the nation-state. These writers--representing a wide range of Christian traditions--cite texts from diverse sources: Mennonites, Pentecostals, and pre-Civil Rights African Americans. Some contributors reference the positions of Catholic bishops, Karl Barth, or John Howard Yoder. New Testament texts also figure strongly in these cases for ""conscientious abstention"" from voting. In addition to cultivating the ethical discussion around abstention from voting, the contributors suggest alternative ways beneficially to engage society. This volume creates a new freedom for readers within any faith tradition to enter into a dialogue that has not yet been welcomed in North America. Endorsements: People often forget that voting can be a coercive practice, just to the extent it justifies a majority's silencing of minorities. We should therefore be grateful that these essays raise an issue that too often goes undiscussed. --Stanley Hauerwas, Duke Divinity School, Duke University If the definition of a good book is that it challenges long-held and cherished opinions while inspiring readers to think new thoughts and imagine new possibilities, then this is a great book--and one that all American Christians (in particular) need to read This diverse collection of excellent essays serves as a prophetic call for American Christians to wake up from our political slumber and realize how we've been seduced by the idols of nationalism and political power. --Greg Boyd, author of The Myth of a Christian Nation: How the Quest for Political Power is Destroying the Church (2006) Half the electorate typically stays home on election day, and not an eyebrow is raised. But if one suggests that people shouldn't vote for religious reasons, be prepared to run for cover--you're guaranteed a firestorm of outrage and indignation. The ""sacred right to vote"" still generates powerful emotions, even among those who don't make it to the shrine on a regular basis. And that's why the Christian community owes a debt to Ted Lewis and his contributors for raising the uncomfortable question of whether voting may be incompatible with the practice of Christian discipleship. Electing Not to Vote is a provocative but respectful collection that deserves serious attention from Christians of all sorts."" --Michael L. Budde, Department of Political Science, DePaul University About the Contributor(s): Ted Lewis works as an acquisitions editor at Wipf and Stock Publishers and writes articles and book reviews for Mennonite periodicals. He also manages the Restorative Justice Program at Community Mediation Services in Eugene, Oregon, and provides mediation services and conflict transformation workshops for faith-based communities.

Citations And Professional Reviews
Electing Not to Vote: Christian Reflections on Reasons for Not Voting by Ted Lewis has been reviewed by professional book reviewers and journalists at the following establishments -
  • Christian Century - 11/04/2008 page 37
  • Christianity Today - 11/01/2008 page 75

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Item Specifications...

Studio: Cascade Books
Pages   126
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 8.96" Width: 6.03" Height: 0.32"
Weight:   0.45 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Jun 1, 2008
Publisher   Cascade Books
ISBN  1556352271  
ISBN13  9781556352270  

Availability  0 units.

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Reviews - What do customers think about Electing Not to Vote: Christian Reflections on Reasons for Not Voting?

A different perspective  Dec 2, 2008
My personal reasons for not voting were simple. If there was one person who would be able to make a noticeable difference, everyone would vote for that person. I did vote this past election, the first time in decades. This book was an excellent read from various perspectives on what it means to call oneself a Christian and belonging to the Kingdom of God. The essays cause one to think more deeply about their faith and reasons for voting or not voting.
A refreshing look at voting and politics  Sep 3, 2008
Obama of McCain, McCain or Obama, are there only two choices for the election come this November? "Electing Not to Vote: Christian Reflections on Reasons for Not Voting" offers another choice, looking past even the possibility of a third party candidate, to abstaining to vote for moral reasons. Many writers from many denominations of faith in the Christian religion speak out about abstaining from voting. A refreshing look at voting and politics, "Electing Not to Vote" is highly recommended to any who are undecided about this coming November.
Eating ballots  Jul 11, 2008
In 2000, fifteen Canadians, members of the Edible Ballot Society, pureed and ate their voting ballots at polling booths. They were, they proclaimed, "hungry for democracy." Finding no candidate on the ballot to assuage their hunger, they decided to express their dissatisfaction with a profoundly inspired bit of guerilla theatre.

This story, which opens Andy Alexis-Baker's contribution to the excellent Electing Not to Vote, provides one reason for abstention from voting: the possibility that the available candidates are nutritionless, white-breaded fast foods. Another might be the sad realization that federal elections tend to be money-driven, corporate-influenced, and Electoral College-led affairs which pay more lip than actual service to the democratic ideal.

But for the Christian committed to Jesus's radical message of nonviolence, there are other reasons for abstention, and the authors in this volume explore them with grace and insight. Voting in federal elections is a gesture that can implicitly acquiesce to the powers and principalities of the world, violate Christ's counter-cultural resistance to Caesar, and promote a most unChristian adversarial spirit among those who get swept up in partisan wrangling. (The recent presidential primary feuding between the two leading Democrat contenders is a case in point.) Voting can also be a secular analog of cheap grace, providing voters with the comfortable impression that they've done their bit simply by pulling a polling booth lever, and thereby discouraging imaginative alternatives to social change.

The defenses of these positions in Electing Not to Vote is never heavy-handed. The authors are quite aware of the high stakes of arguing against the sacred rite of voting, and go to some pains to insist that abstention from voting must always be accompanied by more fruitful alternative labor for social justice, labor that first and foremost is a witness to their faith. In several of the essays, I sensed moments of the same ambivalence which I, and I'm sure any practitioner of Christian nonviolence, have felt about participating in electoral politics. Should I, or shouldn't I? What's the right thing to do? It's to editor Ted Lewis' credit that he recognizes these sorts of questions need to be addressed rather than, as is typical, ignored. Although abstention isn't likely to be a popular option, and even though it's a difficult decision even for those who ultimately embrace it, talking about it allows for "a new kind of freedom: specifically, a freedom for readers to ask questions that for the most part have not been welcome within the discourse of our society and of our faith communities" (p. ix).

As Lewis acknowledges in his introductory remarks, the essays in Electing Not to Vote contribute to but certainly don't conclude the conversation. In some of the essays, for example, I thought that possibly false dilemmas were being drawn between the impurity of voting and the purity of abstention. I would've also liked to have seen some analysis of how broad Christian abstention should be: if one refuses on principle to vote, shouldn't one also refuse on principle to pay taxes (at least those earmarked for war, prisons, etc)? If not, why not? Finally, it seems to me that greater reflection on how far one can bend one's faith commitment without compromising it is necessary. After all, Christians compromise their beliefs everyday, most obviously in consumer choices. Where's the point of no return?

But the fact that these sorts of questions are generated by the essays in Electing Not to Vote only underscores their richness. Highly recommended.

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