Leith Anderson, president of the National Association of Evangelicals, said, “My FAQs in 2016 include: ‘Who are you going to vote for?’ (I never tell), ‘Who should I vote for?’ (I’ll let you decide), and ‘Is it okay if I don’t vote?’ (Probably not. At least vote for as many offices as you choose, but don’t skip the voting booth completely).”
Evangelical leaders see voting as part of their Christian and civic duty. Nicole Baker Fulgham, president of The Expectations Project, a faith-based education advocacy organization, said, “As a woman of color, too many people fought and died for me to have the right to vote. I don’t take it lightly and would be very hard pressed to abdicate that right. Even if I wasn’t super happy with either choice, I’d feel compelled to pick the one I dislike least. I also think, as a Christian, my vote does matter, and it’s part of my responsibility to help decide our leaders.”
Anderson continued, “Try to imagine yourself as a Christian in another country and century. Who would you vote for if there wasn’t a candidate you liked? Then, remember that most people couldn’t vote. They probably would have welcomed a voting booth no matter who was on the ticket.”
Alan Cureton, president of University of Northwestern in St. Paul, Minnesota, wondered, “Is this election truly different from other elections? Does one need to ‘like’ a candidate to be able to vote for them?”
In their comments, some evangelical leaders suggested that voting for a third party candidate or abstaining for that office was futile or a vote for the winning ticket. A minority, however, think these positions are worth considering.
“How can I preach civic responsibility if I do not vote? But how can I vote for a candidate that I cannot support, even using a ‘lesser of evils’ logic?” asked Randall Bach, president of Open Bible Churches.
Carl Nelson, president of Transform Minnesota, said, “As an evangelical voter who tries to use the Bible as the filter for making my voting decision, none of the leading candidates inspire me. This may be the year that I give serious consideration to a third party candidate.”
In their book “Faith in the Voting Booth: Practical Wisdom for Voting Well,” NAE leaders Leith Anderson and Galen Carey offer a biblical framework for considering today’s complex political issues and general principles to guide evangelicals in 2016 and years to come.
Anderson said, “Christians vote with faith — not in the candidates but in God. We trust God for good no matter who is running for office.”
The Evangelical Leaders Survey is a monthly poll of the Board of Directors of the National Association of Evangelicals. They include the CEOs of denominations and representatives of a broad array of evangelical organizations including missions, universities, publishers and churches.