September 16th, 2005

vote libertarian

church and state

I've had a very interesting opportunity lately to talk religion with a Jehovah's Witness. He's a very good friend of mine; we can talk about anything, but for some reason we'd never got into religion until now. When he first told me what he was, he told me not to believe everything I read on the internet about Witnesses, which I thought sounded perfectly fair... I'm sure there are lots of misconceptions. But just to get my head around them I headed straight for wikipedia (you know, so I'd know what they were, right?)

Even though Witnesses are thought of as one of the somewhat crazy, out-there groups, I have to admit they have some good points. I mean, what good Christian hasn't honestly thought of boycotting Christmas to protest to what corporate america has done to it? December 25th, a date which we strongly doubt has anything to do with the actual day Christ was born, is all about materialism and decorations (which, by the way, we stole from pagans).

Here's the big thing that killed me though: they don't vote and don't participate in the political process. I've known about this in the past and never really felt bad about it, because most Jehovah's Witnesses aren't people I want voting... know what I mean? But I also love democracy. I registered to vote on my 18th birthday... had the papers sent ahead of time, even. I vote in tiny crappy city elections that nobody cares about. I vote in huge presidential elections where my vote is one of millions and really doesn't count for squat. My entire family sits around discussing politics... hell, my sister majored in political science. We don't all agree on every issue, in fact there are a lot that we don't agree on. But there's one big important thing: we all participate. It's better to have a different opinion and step up to vote on it than to have no opinion at all.

For us, democracy almost is a religion.

My friend started to explain to me that we can't be totally sure which presidential candidate will try to keep us out of war, we can't see what's in their hearts, but God can, so why not pray and leave it up to Him? He has all the plans laid out and will make sure we're taken care of. By voting, we could mess it up. This was PHYSICALLY PAINFUL for me to hear. I had to stop him. It didn't matter how good his points were on this one, it was like being told the sky might not be blue. Okay, yeah, all this time, we might have been wrong about what BLUE really is. But... fuck me. I can't handle it.

My work on the campaign last April was because of my faith. I couldn't stand seeing a group of people get trounced on and blamed for society's problems. I couldn't see Christians giving our religion such a bad name by picking on a minority. I had to stand up and fight. I truly believe that God made different people in this world to test us and see how we treat them, and when they are fired at politically it's almost just as bad as being fired at physically. A constitutional amendment locks the democratic purpose, and this one locked people out of it.

So yeah... not voting? not participating in politics? I'm sure there are good reasons, but nothing could blow me away any more.