Religious belief influences voting choices

By Sarah Meyer: PNT Staff Writer

Religious belief likely plays a part in the way people vote, area religious leaders say.

And though church leaders say they don’t endorse candidates, they encourage their congregations to vote based on Biblical principles.

Allen McAlister, senior pastor of Central Baptist Church in Clovis, said church leaders encourage the congregation to learn about candidates’ stand on issues. Voter guides listing such information are provided.

He said he encourages the congregation to choose the candidate that “best represents your views and values, and bathe your decision in prayer.”

McAlister said Sunday’s sermon will be “making right choices,” based on Joshua 9. “The leadership of Israel made the mistake because they did not consult the Lord,” he said.

Some issues to take into account are candidates’ stands on abortion, stem-cell research, traditional marriage and family and parental rights, said McAlister.

Bonita Knox, pastor of Trinity Lutheran Church in Clovis, also says Biblical principles should influence actions such as voting.

The church is part of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, which provided a list of things to think about when voting.

“Christ is central to our life both in church and in the world,” she said. The Bible “provides a social lens” to think about issues.

Some of those issues are hunger and poverty, care for creation, concern for people, and peacemaking, Knox said.

One message she gives her congregation is “Worship the Lord, then go out and serve.”

Joan Clayton, a local religion columnist, also agreed Christians should vote on Biblical principles.

Some issues she considers are honesty, integrity, truthfulness and compassion, as well as a candidate’s stance on abortion.

“I try to read up on them (the candidates),” she said. “Believers try to go by Biblical principles, then leave it up to God. … You want the leaders to be thoughtful, compassionate and kind and try to do the best they can for the country.”