"Are you registered to vote?"
13th April 2018
I may be wrong, but it seems to me that Christians are split over the idea of voting in general. Some Christians say, "Politics is nothing to do with me, God is in charge, and so I don't vote." Others engage regularly with politics and cast their vote whenever they can. Personally, I know Seventh-day Adventist Christians who love Trump and I know some who don't love him! But we're not talking about President Trump here...
Voting can be an emotive subject - especially when it comes to a subject like abortion. If you've missed the news lately, yes, on Friday 25th May the country is going to vote in the referendum on repealing the Eighth Amendment. So, what does the Eighth Amendment, or Article 40.3.3 of the Irish Constitution, say?
"The State acknowledges the right to life of the unborn and, with due regard to the equal right to life of the mother, guarantees in its laws to respect, and, as far as practicable, by its laws to defend and vindicate that right."
So, why is repealing the Eighth such a big decision? Simply put, as far as I currently understand, at the moment abortion is illegal in Ireland, except in situations where a pregnancy poses a direct threat to the life of the mother, including suicidal ideation; although the State has made provision in its laws guaranteeing a woman’s freedom to travel aboard for an abortion and the freedom to access abortion information in Ireland.
Although repealing the Eighth Amendment won't automatically mean that abortion is now legal, it seems to me (and I'm not always correct!) that the suggestion of the government is that repealing the Eighth will pave the way for them to propose new legislation making abortion legal in Ireland. Hence, many see this referendum as either a "pro-life" (against abortion) or "pro-choice" (in favour of abortion) vote.
My family and I moved to Ireland from Northern Ireland in August 2016 and I only realised the other day that I wasn't registered to vote! Now, I'm quite interested in politics generally, and I must say that I've always tried to exercise my constitution right to vote; whether it be local, national or European elections.
My purpose in writing this article isn't to try and convince you to vote one way or other in the upcoming referendum, or even address the question of whether Christians should vote at all (although my statement in the above paragraph probably shows my belief on that subject). My purpose is quite simply, twofold - firstly, to ask you - "Are You Registered to Vote?"
One of the first questions I had in contemplating this topic was, as a British Citizen who is resident in Ireland, can I vote? You may have a similar question, although you may be a citizen of a different country than me. You may not be registered to vote and you may not even know if you can vote or not - and so this leads me to the second purpose in writing this article - to show you where you can get information on who can vote and how you can register if you're allowed to vote and not yet registered to!
CitizensInformation.ie is the place to learn about everything! Yes, including voting. Clicking the button below will open up the webpage which addresses all about voting and registering to vote (in which type of elections/referenda you can vote in if you're not a citizen of Ireland) including the relevant dates by which you need to have registered to vote in the upcoming referendum, if you so choose to.
We are fortunate to live in a country where we generally have a lot of choice; including the choice of whether to vote or not, and if we choose to vote, what to vote for. Not everyone has that privilege.
In chapter 2 of 1 Timothy, Paul counsels Timothy, "I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people - for kings, and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good, and pleases God our Saviour..."
Deciding who to vote for, what to vote for and in some cases which "side" to take, is not always easy. Pastor Chad Stuart, Senior Pastor of the Spencerville Church has written an article entitled, "What Christians Should Do Before and After Casting Their Ballot – Biblical Perspectives" and this can be found on the General Conference Biblical Reseach Institute website - so it's a biblically solid article. I would encourage you to read it. You can find it at this link.
Finally, the Adventist Church has an official statement on abortion that I would encourage you to read - you can find it here. Whether you are a serial voter, an irregular voter, or haven't before really exercised your right to vote - I would encourage you to remember that not all sincere and Godly people will necessarily vote the same way as you might - whether in local, national or European elections; or even in the upcoming referendum. The right to vote freely, how you believe your conscience is leading you is just as important as the right to vote.
I registered to vote this week. Are you registered to vote? If not, why not register now, if you can!
[by Pastor Adam Keough]