Pray and Vote
The Christian Century, June 14, 2003
Even before the invasion of Iraq had begun, the cry went forth through and from the churches: Pray! Pray for the soldiers, pray for the civilians, pray for peace. So I preached, and so I did. I wonder, though, if God didn’t answer our petitions with one of his own: Vote! Polls indicate that something like 96 percent of Americans say that they believe in a supreme being. More than 70 percent say that they pray at least once a week. Yet less than half of the nation’s registered voters participated in the last presidential election. Millions of others were not even registered. It follows that among those praying now are a fair number who didn’t vote then, which strikes me as a bit like praying for employment without bothering to apply for a job. . . We simply have better things to do. For instance, we have to say our prayers. We have to continue our “faith journeys.” . . . The right of political self-determination is indeed a talent entrusted to our care, and prayer alone does not count as an exercise of faithful stewardship. Perhaps the most extreme form of taking the Lord’s name in vain is to say “God bless America” without a disciplined willingness to bless it ourselves.