THE HONOUR OF VOTING: A PRIVILEGE AND A RESPONSIBILITY

Here is the king whom you have chosen and whom you have desired. — 1 Samuel 12:13


INTRODUCTION
In July 2012 I published a book together with Dr Samuel Koranteng-Pipim entitled “The
Transformed Mind”. Below is an extract from a chapter of the book because of its relevance.
Question: On the idea of Christians being light in their communities, a lot of Christians run away from politics in any form. Some don’t even want to vote, alleging that Christians should have nothing to do with politics. What do you have to say about this?


Answer: Let me, first of all, say that it is wrong to think or say that Christians should have
nothing to do with politics.
There are obligations on every Christian to be concerned about the politics of wherever you are living. It does not mean that you have to belong to a political party or run for a political office. But it does not mean that you have to fold your hands either, not concerned about what is going on politically in your state or your country. If you live there, you’d better be concerned. The Bible recognizes the state and the church. Several allusions are made to the distinctness of and the respect due to each. Render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s, and unto God what is God’s. Pray for the good of the land where you are as against just your church or your family. Respect those in authority, including state leaders. Where in the Bible are Christians warned to run away from politics in any form?


I know that politics has been dirty in some of our African countries, but that is not enough
justification to stay out of politics completely. There are so many things that can be done. I
know when a lot of Christians talk about politics; they narrow it down to just elections and
holding public office. About the latter, let me reiterate that you don’t have to campaign for
public office before you’re called to serve. I didn’t have to do so, and I held several public
offices without belonging to any political party.


About the former concern, that of elections, there are a lot of things you can still do as a
Christian, though not a party member or a candidate for any office.
During the last elections here in Ghana, the West was sceptical about the country going
through the process peacefully. There were debates in the media as regards whether Ghana could hold credible and peaceful elections or reveal another typical case of post-election violence in Africa. There’s always tension during election seasons. The more the ethnic and ideological diversities, the more the tension that surrounds elections in Africa. People get agitated and apprehensive and are not sure whether to register to vote or even to actually vote. I understand all that, but that is when Christians have a very important role to play.
Can you imagine what would happen in this country and on the continent if none who lays
claim to Christianity gets involved in opposing anything that can derail a peaceful election? Is there no longer any Isaac or Jacob or John or Paul or Peter that is listed among those who
intimidate opponents, harass innocent citizens, torture, slander, malign, steal ballot boxes, and get involved in any of those heinous electoral crimes?

Thank God He has spared Ghana from this problem; but it hurts all the same that in so many parts of Africa, peaceful and fair elections are still only a dream. I know that many Christians are afraid. But our fear should not prevent us from praying and talking to our young ones and even the old. We need to educate the people within our sphere of influence on the true obligation of every Christian to not stay aloof from issues that have to do with the governance of wherever we live. They are to be part of it in a way that honours God.

The Bible asks us to pray, and pray we must.
This year we’ll hold elections again. At this very crucial time in our political history, God
promises us the same peace that He’s blessed us with so far. ‘Though the mountains be shaken the hills be removed, yet My unfailing love for you will not be shaken nor My covenant of peace be removed,’ says the LORD, Who has compassion on you” (Isaiah 54:10). “My eyes and
My heart will always be there” (1 Kings 9:3). “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you’’
(Hebrews 13:5). In addition to offering up fervent prayers for the electoral process, candidates, and the electorate as a whole, let all Christians seek for ways by which they can be on the side of everything good that will aid speaking and acting out for peaceful elections.


For the forthcoming elections, we have developed a simple document that summarizes what every resident in Ghana, citizens and visitors alike, to imbibe. Our CITIZENS MANIFESTO is simple enough to understand by various and sundry persons. It is not difficult to practice either.
The objective of this manifesto is to put in a single document our obligations, expectations, and concerns. It will work towards a common goal – that of having a peaceful, free and fair election. Christians are in the majority in Ghana, and if we all join hands together, we can achieve our goal


THE CITIZENS MANIFESTO


We the citizens of Ghana hereby agree and pledge as follows. That…

  1. We will speak and act responsibly.
  2. We will use polite, not offensive language.
  3. We will respect candidates for who they are, not hold ethnocentric/ tribalistic views or make
    such slanted negative comments about them.
  4. We will conduct ourselves peacefully, not resort to violence or to stockpile, distribute, or use
    weapons.
  5. We will objectively assess issues and candidates, not attack our opponents or those who
    disagree with us.
  6. We will promote equity, not obstruct justice.
  7. We will report our grievances to the relevant authorities, not take the law into our hands.
  8. We will vote peacefully and responsibly, not resort to intimidation.
  9. We will encourage all eligible voters around us to vote peacefully and responsibly, not sell
    their votes or be bribed or coerced for their votes.

  1. We will actively support those who eventually win their elections.
  2. We will pray for God to bless the majority party and incumbent, the minority party, and
    other contesting parties and their flag bearers; and also pray for Him to bless the freedom of
    the press.
  3. We will encourage journalists and other media to be responsible to speak the truth in love,
    and to practice charity in their criticisms.
    We will prove that the Golden Age in Ghanaian politics has arrived. God bless the voter. God
    Bless Ghana.
    Advice to voters by John Wesley as recorded in his Journal of October 3, 1774:
  4. Vote, without a fee or reward, but for the person we judge most worthy.
  5. Speak no evil of the person we voted against.
  6. Take care our spirits are not sharpened against those that voted on the other side.

Stay Blessed!
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