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By Blaney Pridgen
Suffrage is the right to vote in a political election. In the worship or liturgy of some Christian churches a suffrage is a formal prayer in which a congregation or individual makes a supplication, a humble petition or request, for the common good. I believe there might be a little connection here in these two meanings of the word. A vote is a secular prayer for the common good. The vote, the inviolate foundation of a free democracy, is sacred. As an American Christian, I believe it is a gift from God and a sign of God’s mercy in a sinful, broken world. Messing with the vote, fiddling with it through jurisdictional shenanigans, and nefariously coming up with bogus regulations to limit who can vote and voting access are willful denigrations of a divine grace. I am sure the lovers of democracy in other faiths would agree.
But, back to that second liturgical meaning of suffrage. Worship with which I am familiar offers the following from a set of suffrages:
Give peace, O Lord, in all the world;
For only in you can we live in safety.
Keep this nation under your care;
And guide us in the way of justice and truth.
Let your way be known upon earth;
Your saving health among all nations.
Let not the needy, O Lord, be forgotten;
Nor the hope of the poor be taken away.
I believe that we form and carry out the answers to our prayers. That does not mean we cannot ask God for something. We can, as long as we remember that the answer God gives is through us. Our humble prayers for the common good, our suffrages, mobilize God’s answers through us. Prayer is contemplation toward mobilization for our action under God’s inspiration. The suffrages I have quoted are our marching orders with God’s help.
So, what about now? On every level of government, we need leaders who are mostly persons of peace, even when defense is required. We don’t need any rabble-rousers or bullies. We need safety, economic and environmental. We need leaders who actually care about the fundamental principles of our nation, much more so than the power of any political party. We constantly need to ask the questions: is that just and fair play and is that verifiably true? Our prayers make us activists in these matters, or they should. As to our Creator’s saving ways and health being shown to all nations, this begins being shown in the nation where we are planted. As to the needy and the poor, here and abroad and on our borders, God favors them whether we like it or not, or at least the Bible says so. Therefore, as for now and always, our prayers to God tell us how God wants us to answer them, with God’s help.
Now, finally to that first meaning of suffrage, the right to vote. Statistics vary, but they generally indicate that too many citizens do not vote, especially among minorities and Gen X-ers. The worst statistic I am aware of is one-third of our citizens do not vote or rarely vote. We know the reasons and excuses: dissatisfaction with any of the candidates, stagnation and bickering regardless of who is elected, difficulty in getting to the polls, ignorance of the issues and who really stands for what, etc. Now, we are beset with the canard of stolen elections and the reality of corrupt campaign financing and deportment. I believe all of that fuels an unpatriotic apathy which erodes the foundation of democracy, the sacred vote. This must be resisted as an enemy within that is as dangerous as any enemy outside of our borders. Maintaining a democracy within our nation is as important, difficult, and costly as protecting our democracy from any foreign adversary. Passion for universal and effective suffrage, massive voter turnout, and just and open polls is all American. Anything at all less than this is, well…