As voters go to the polls during national elections soon, it should be a time for Christians to reflect on the direction of the USA. We need to recognize how this nation continues to turn its back on the authority of God’s Word with devastating consequences. Recent surveys conducted by renowned pollster George Barna are quite revealing in this regard, and they expose the sad state of America and where we’re headed.
While this article does not offer recommendations about specific candidates that are appearing on ballots across the country, we trust it will be a useful “voters’ guide” as you apply God’s Word to how you vote.
Earlier this year, Barna summarized the state of the union.1 First, he makes the point (as AiG often does) that every person “possesses a worldview, and that worldview automatically acts as a filter on how reality is perceived and then communicated.” A worldview will be a person’s lens as he or she looks at the issues of the day and determines how to vote.
The Spiritual Condition of America
After conducting a nationwide survey of Americans, Christians and non-Christians, Barna has presented his analysis of the spiritual condition of the USA in 2016. Here are some of his conclusions:
- “Americans are losing faith in all aspects of their Christian heritage and commitment. During the past decade alone there have been huge declines in the proportion of people who claim to be deeply spiritual (-21 points); who say their religious faith is very important in their life (-16 points); who claim to have made a personal commitment to Jesus Christ (-12 points).”
- “Belief in God, trust in the Bible, and reliance on Jesus alone for salvation have all declined precipitously. Fewer than one in five adults believes that absolute moral truth exists and is defined in the Bible.”
- “The unchurched population is growing like cancer, rising by 11 points in ten years, now approaching half of the adult public. Most unchurched adults consider themselves to be Christian and spiritually inclined; one in five is born again!”
- “The Bible is taking a big hit. While more than nine out of ten households own one or more copies, just one-third read from it during a typical week last year. Only one out of three adults believes it is totally accurate in all of the principles it teaches.”
- “The nation’s morals and values are a mess. . . . A majority argues that co-habitation, sexual fantasies, sex outside of marriage, giving birth outside of marriage, divorce, doctor-assisted suicide, homosexual relations, and same-sex marriage are morally acceptable endeavors.”
- “Major social institutions no longer hold the confidence of Americans. . . . Confidence in churches has plummeted by 11 percentage points in the last decade.”
Barna concludes by noting that these massive changes in worldview provide “the cultural context for the 2016 battle for the White House and control of Congress.”
Attacks on Religious Liberty
Yes, his survey exposes how our nation has turned its back on the authority of God’s Word. Furthermore, when he spoke in Washington, D.C., recently, Barna noted that as America has become less Christian, there has been a corresponding attack on religious liberty, primarily directed at Christians. We see this as a serious undermining of the free exercise of religion guaranteed in the First Amendment.
Opposition to Bible-proclaiming, evangelistic ministries like AiG is on the rise. For example, the previous governor and administration in Kentucky (our home state) was hostile towards AiG’s constitutional guarantee of religious freedom when it came to a certain tax incentive. AiG felt compelled (for the sake of the freedom of all ministries) to take the former governor and one of his officials to federal court. AiG, blessed with the great assistance of religious liberty attorneys (who gave their services at no charge), thought it was vital to maintain our First Amendment guarantee to the right of the free exercise of religion. Praise God we won, with a conclusive ruling from a federal judge earlier this year, and today we are also allowed to hire in accord with our Christian purpose, as provided by the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
Opposition to Bible-proclaiming, evangelistic ministries like AiG is on the rise.
By the way, here is an interesting sidebar to our struggle with state officials; it reveals the disdain some people have for the Christian worldview. Consultants hired by Kentucky estimated that the Ark Encounter would attract only 325,000 visitors the first year because the park would be too religious. Well, in less than the first three months of operation, the Ark passed the 325,000 mark! Our own consultants, America’s Research Group (ARG), estimated that more than four times that number will visit the Ark in year one. But the state at that time would not listen.
Interestingly, America’s Research Group says that because the Ark opened in July this summer and missed several weeks of the vacation season, the Ark in year two will probably see even higher attendance. We rejoice that in the years to come, tens of millions of people will be visiting the Ark. Kentucky will enjoy major economic benefits, and we pray that many souls will be changed and won to Him and that they will impact America for Christ.
The Real Solution to the Moral Problem
Many Christians believe that electing certain politicians and creating new laws is the solution to the nation’s moral decline. But the problem is ultimately a spiritual one. In the long run, enacting new legislation won’t work to change the culture because the next generation may just come along and change it all right back. We’ve seen that happen time and time again. Political solutions aren’t the answer to a spiritual problem. Hearts need to be changed first.
The only solution is pointing people back to the authority of the Word of God and sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ. Yes, let’s go to the polls and vote according to our biblical beliefs, but we need to recognize that, at a foundational level, it’s the gospel that changes hearts and minds . . . and the culture follows.
As we seek to pick leaders who won’t allow a further slide away from the truths of the Bible, what does God’s Word share with us about how we might select candidates?
What does God’s Word share with us about how we might select candidates?
First, we need to seek God’s wisdom. In Acts 1:24, Christian leaders like the Apostle Peter “prayed and said, ‘You, Lord, who know the hearts of all, show which one of these two you have chosen.’” So too should we pray every time we exercise our great right to vote.
Second, let’s recall God telling Samuel and Israel (1 Samuel 16) not to choose a leader primarily because he sounds good or appears impressive, as was the case with King Saul, who failed as a leader. Of course, it’s impossible to see deep inside a candidate’s heart. But believers should be assessing hearts by watching a candidate’s actions and evaluating words and their chosen advisors—then judging those actions against the absolute authority of the Word of God.
We need to vote for candidates who we believe will protect our religious liberties (or stop their erosion) so that we as believers will continue to have the freedom to exercise our faith in this once very Christianized nation.
As you go to the polls, please pray that our nation will see a new reformation: a return to biblical authority.