A Christian’s simple guide to voting

Who should I vote for is the question on my mind and on your minds too. Some thinking and feeling and praying should go into my vote. To help me think through, I came up with a list of criteria. If you want to use it to help you in your decision go ahead but do attach your own individual weight of importance to each of the criteria. Since I am a preacher permit me to indulge in alliteration.

Personality

Who are the candidates in the GRC or the SMC? Certainly integrity of character and ability would be an important factor in my choice. While it is difficult to assess a candidate’s character in just two weeks, the testimony of others and character references do help. The speeches and interviews may also let slip some clues. Still it is advantageous for the incumbent, and since its difficult to be fair here, I give this less weight. I just need assurance there is no major doubts about the integrity or ability of the candidates to represent me in Parliament.

Property or practical benefits

This is probably the most self-centred of all the criteria as it has to do with “what’s in it for me and my family?” PAP’s explicit and publicly stated policy is to benefit whichever constituency votes in their candidates. This behaviorist’s approach of carrot and stick in politics has served them well in the past though today’s young voters are a different breed.

Party

Another approach is simply to choose the party whose platform and values I am most aligned to and consonant with. A perfect match is unlikely but I can surely choose the party I am most comfortable with. Read their manifestos and hear the speeches will help me reach a reasonable  judgment.

Principles

This criteria is related to the one before it: specific issues and policies. Cost of living, availability of affordable housing, ministers’ salaries, the immigration and foreign worker policy, the care of the elderly and the poor, casinos and their social costs, health care, transparency of dealings of national reserves, and other such matters that fire your heart.  Certainly, how strongly I feel for or against the present state of affairs will somehow be factored into my thinking process.

Perspective

The big picture, the long term good of the whole of Singapore comes to the forefront here. It’s no longer about whether my mum gets a lift at her floor, or upgrading of the landscaping in my area. It’s about the future I want for Singapore and for my children and children’s children. Which party is more likely to bring me towards that future?

Personal convictions and values

Faith cannot be totally divorced from this. The faith or religion I have does influence what I believe to be important in life and society, and therefore it does colour how I view the world and the decisions I make, including this vote. Christianity values the integrity and righteousness; peace and harmony; truth and justice; compassion and mercy; stewardship of the earth; etc.

Personal ranking of criteria

Individual Christians will of course place different weights of importance to each of these depending on their experiences, stage in life and convictions. Ranking the factors in order of importance helps me make a clearer decision, one that I can be at peace with, one that expresses the unique “me” at this stage of my life.

Prayer and peace

It is important to pray about my vote. Prayer is not only for when I am in trouble. The vote I take can then be free from the forces that have been unleashed by all the different political parties: fear and greed (the same forces that dominate the stock market). When these primal emotions dominate your personal landscape it is difficult to make a peaceful decision. Confidence in God’s love and care provides the basis for me to enter into a restful vote. So I will talk about this with the Lord.

Further reading: The Catholic Archbishop Chia’s pastoral letter for 2011 general elections.

11 thoughts on “A Christian’s simple guide to voting”

  1. Pastor Kenny,
    Annie and I (may be many others) missed your preaching as you solemnised J & J’s wedding yesterday. The shepherd’s voice is always familiar to the sheep when he leads. Cannot wait for your comeback and 30 days has passed swiftly, agree?

    The weekend must be sweet for you since Man United lost 1 nil to your favourite, Arsenal. Chelsea must be laughing all the way to the bank.

    With regards to voting, you may want to share your Bukit Gombak’s experience, where Ling How Dong took over from PAP more than 10 years ago? I remembered under your block, there is a stretch of “Tang Kees” which you detest but cannot do anything about it.
    Those were the days my friend….

    1. Hi Sunny, thank you for your kind words. Yes we gave Ling How Doong of SDP a chance but it was not well taken. This is part of the price for the long road towards a strong democracy.

  2. will the Lord continue to bless the ruling party like before??It makes the churches to fight for a plot of land which is 5 times above market rates to build a church.And 5 times below market rates for mosque building.Worst still,in 30 yrs time,the no less than 10 million dollar church will have to knock down and return to the state.
    Many churches have to rent a place at those industrail /commercial properties for worship service.But URA would not hesitate to tear down the santuaries without providing other alternatives.Forget about national revival so long as such stupid policy remains.
    Talk about the ‘grow n share’,the ruling pary is feeding its people including the church with the sin of greed in order to gain votes.
    It seems to me that the ruling party seeks to make the church ‘HOMELESS’.Despite so many christian MPs ,how many of them fight for the church ?ZERO!!What a shame!!
    The ruling party doesnt need GOD or has any fear of GOD because according to MM Lee’s recent words of warning to those who vote for the opposition party that they have 5 yrs to ‘ live and repent’,see, they even believe they are like the ALMIGHTY GOD.
    May the LORD humble the ruling party in this coming GE.
    (excuse me for my horrendous English)

    1. Jos99, unlike the Muslims, we fragmented Christian groups compete with each other for limited plots of land with 30 years lease. Recently, I heard of a church, I cannot remember which, that has had its lease renewed at a cost based on a formula. Looks like they have figured out a formula for extending the leases of church sites that reaches expiry. Hopefully, there will be clarity with the use of industrial space, just as they clarified the rules for use of commercial space. Many churches cannot afford the high cost of securing church sites in HDB estates.

      The MM Lee is time trapped and has not adjusted to the new realities on the ground, but his instincts may be correct, for he knows women usually opt for security, and they form more than half the voters: so frighten them into the everlasting arms of PAP.

  3. Thanks blogpastor for your great simple piece. Was just about to write an entry about voting/elections, and was reading through my blogroll. Will definitely share, pass this around. Great advice and comprehensive points for us to weigh and ponder over. Thanks for being a blessing!

    Shalom,
    Tim

  4. One criteria which you missed out is the place given to the poor and the marginalized groups. This criteria would weigh heavily on my vote. I would go for a party which is willing to redirect huge chunks from defense spending to health care for the aged?

    I dont see any major change in these elections. Even if the incumbent party lose a few seats, there will be no deep seated soul searching on their part. The heartlanders will come through for them. After the elections, a group will be set up to look into problem areas. Some money will be spent and changes will be made. The basic fundamentals however will remain the same.

    The next election is the one to watch. The fissures in the ruling party would probably surface by then and LKY will not be around.

  5. Hi BB, yes the Old Testament shows that God places great importance on this yardstick of how we treat the poor and marginalized. I would see it as a subset of “principles” but nevertheless it can form a separate criteria all by itself.

    Your crystal ball gaze is interesting. The bookies don’t seem to agree with you as some see the PAP losing 19 seats.

    By the way, can you vote from where you are in Bolivia?

  6. No, I cant vote in Bolivia. I would have to go to the US to vote!

    I have been keeping close tabs on the elections by going into cyberspace: you-tube, blogs and websites.A fascinating experience. Its hard not to be sucked in by the drama and atmosphere of the elections. I have become more Singaporean as a result of this GE 2011. Singapore is worth fighting for, brother. And I have also rediscovered the power of our pledge. It is simple and straightforward exposition of the values which hold us together as a nation.

    19 seats to the alternative parties? I am not there to feel the ground and so maybe the bookies are right. I remain very skeptical about this prediction. Hmmm…but younger genertion, those in their early 20’s, are opposed to the incumbent party. My generation however is still very conservative and hesitant about change. We shall find out on 8th of May.

    I wonder where we will be in GE 2016?

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