The Block Vote30.04.10
Aired on April 30, 2010
Narration by Baben Lumapas
THE BLOCK VOTE
This election, religious groups and communities will make endorsements of candidates who seek their favor. Some assert that their members can vote as one, thus spelling the difference between victory and defeat when it is a close fight and a swing vote is crucial. Block voting, as this idea is known, has become a part of the political process in our country.
We have strong objections to this practice.
First, it skews the democratic process. A minority, because it happens to wield a critical swing vote, becomes unduly influential in determining the outcome of the elections.
Second, voting is a matter of conscience, and must be respected by society, upheld by a religious community, and heeded by individuals. The Protestant Reformation highlighted this emphasis on the individual conscience in reaction to the hierarchical nature of the medieval church. Democracy in our time presumes the role of the individual conscience in discerning for whom to vote and why. Surrendering our consciences and moral choices to the will of a leader is something unacceptable to most Christians. Even the Roman Catholic Church, with its strong ecclesiastical and political traditions, does not practice block voting.
Thirdly, we note that as candidates seek support, churches that practice block voting often behave like any other vested interest. Such support has become a way of securing preferential treatment.
We see this as wrong because it violates what we believe is the role of the Church.
The Church, if it is to act in the political arena at all, must do so for the good of society in general, not for its own narrow sectarian interests. As society’s conscience, it calls on rulers to promote justice, the welfare of those who are poor and weak, and the common good of all.
The Church does not enter politics to merely secure its own interests. When a church thinks not of itself but of others, it is truly being the Body of Christ for the world.
Indeed, the humility of loving service is what the Church is called to do for society. Its mandate is to provide moral and spiritual guidance, and a different way of living that may transform society itself. It does so not by exercising worldly power nor by becoming power brokers. Rather, through its leaders and members, the Church of Christ demands accountability from the leaders of the world and works to improve human lives and communities. The church does this, knowing full well that all power, especially its own, is subject to the sovereign Lord and bound to suffer what Paul calls the ’scandal and foolishness’ of the Cross.