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Should faith compel people to vote?

Is it un-American to abstain from voting? Maybe. But that doesn’t make it un-Christian.

During this incredibly depressing presidential election cycle, I’ve heard from fellow believers who tell me that my faith demands that I vote. Nevermind that both major party candidates are unfit to hold office, are amoral, dishonest and, in general, shouldn’t be our next president.

They say God wants me to vote, that it would be wrong not to. Some have argued that the candidates’ character is of little importance, that Christians should ignore their obvious flaws since the country is in such dire need.  They say my Christian values don’t belong in a heated, presidential race.

Let’s put those values on hold until the election is over, then we’ll straighten the candidate out, they say. Ben Carson, who I once had respect for, suggested we push those values aside during the campaign.

“I would love for us to engage in a conversation on Judeo-Christian values, and I would love for us to bring morality back, and we need to do it at times other than a political campaign,” he said Friday. “Right now, what we need to do is concentrate on the reason that two out of three Americans feel that our country is on the wrong track.”

I won’t argue that the country is on the wrong track, and I think I understand what Carson was trying to say. But this idea that the many accusations of sexual assault against Trump — or the many lies Clinton has told about her emails or her aggressive position on abortion— are somehow secondary to the real issues in America is ridiculous.

Jobs are important. Health care is important. National security is important. Immigration reform is important. Supreme Court justice appointments are important.

But are we to ignore all else simply because a candidate has said he/she will handle one of the above issues in a way that we agree with? So what if Trump’s economic plan will decrease unemployment (it probably won’t) or Clinton’s health care plan will extend coverage to more uninsured (it might but at what cost?). Those things will cease to matter in a country led by a man or woman who sees no need for God, no need for repentance and no need for a moral compass.

I’ve read that God wants Trump elected and it’s up to Christians to make that happen. I won’t pretend to know what God wants when it comes to a presidential election, but if God has decided that either Trump or Clinton should be in the White House, he doesn’t need my help.

God has not required me to vote for Trump or Clinton, or to vote at all. Those who say it’s un-Christian to abstain from voting have wrongly merged their patriotism with their faith. Being a Christian has nothing to do with being American, and the opposite is true as well.

The God of the Bible has little to say about the political involvement of his people. The Bible does say that we should pray for and respect our leaders, and I believe God wants us to elect leaders who stand behind religious liberty and Christian principles. But neither Trump not Clinton fit that category.

I can’t in good conscience vote for either. I will vote next month, but it won’t be for a Republican or Democrat. Some will criticize my vote for a third-party candidate as meaningless. They may be right. But for me, a vote for Trump or Clinton renders my values meaningless.

Luke Horton is publisher of The Daily Leader. Email him at luke.horton@dailyleader.com.