LAKE FOREST, Calif. (BP)–Tuesday, Nov. 2, will be the most important election day U.S. citizens have faced in 50 years. How can that be?
Because up to four of the nine Supreme Court justices could retire during the next presidential term, and their replacements will be selected by whoever is the next president. These new justices will affect the future of America for at least the next 40 years. It would be difficult to overestimate the impact they will have on our lives, our families, our culture and the direction of this nation.
U.S. presidents serve for only four years — at the most eight years — so their impact is limited. Supreme Court justices, however, serve for life, and they are the ones who decide on issues like abortion, gay “marriages,” human cloning, harvesting babies for stem cell research, revoking the tax exemption of churches, removing “under God” from the Pledge of Allegiance and “In God We Trust” from our money. In many ways, the Supreme Court has far more influence and impact on our day-to-day lives. This extremely important fact has been overlooked in most of the campaigning.
President Bush and Senator Kerry have very different opinions about the type of people who should become Supreme Court justices. They could not have more opposite views about these matters, and each man would shape the court in very different ways.
If the members of our congregations fail to vote on Tuesday, we are actually surrendering our responsibility to choose the direction of our country. If we do not vote, we have no right to criticize or complain when unbiblical decisions are made by the court in the decades ahead.
Over the past several months at Saddleback Church, we’ve been urging our members each week to register to vote. We even arranged to have a voter registration booth set up on our church patio because we believe it’s that important that every Christian citizen exercise his or her right to vote for those who will govern us.
During the last presidential election in the United States, there were millions of Christians who didn’t vote or weren’t even registered to vote! To me, that is inexcusable when you consider what the Bible says about our responsibility as citizens and when you consider the many, many men and women who’ve given their lives to provide and protect our freedom to vote.
The U.S. election of 2000 was a clear reminder that every vote counts, and that every voter has a duty to be involved. As church leaders, we know our congregations are not allowed to endorse specific candidates, and it’s important for us to recognize that there can be multiple opinions among Bible-believing Christians when it comes to debatable issues such as the economy, social programs, Social Security and the war in Iraq.
But for those of us who accept the Bible as God’s Word and know that God has a unique, sovereign purpose for every life, I believe there are five issues that are non-negotiable. To me, they’re not even debatable because God’s Word is clear on these issues. In order to live a purpose-driven life — to affirm what God has clearly stated about His purpose for every person He creates — we must take a stand by finding out what the candidates believe about these five issues, and then vote accordingly.
Here are five questions to ask when considering who to vote for in this election:
1. What does each candidate believe about abortion and protecting the lives of unborn children?
2. What does each candidate believe about using unborn babies for stem cell harvesting?
3. What does each candidate believe about homosexual “marriage”?
4. What does each candidate believe about human cloning?
5. What does each candidate believe about euthanasia — the killing of the elderly and the invalids?
Please, please do not forfeit your responsibility on these crucial issues! This election really counts more than most.
Be sure to vote, and also be sure to encourage every Christian you know to vote on Tuesday. If you are able to vote early, do so. Then ask all your Christian friends on Tuesday, “Have you voted yet?” and pray for godly leaders to be elected.
Rick Warren is the founding pastor of Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, Calif., and author of The New York Times best-seller “The Purpose-Driven Life” and of “The Purpose-Driven Church.” He also is the founder of Pastors.com, a global Internet community for ministers.