Anthony Smith on Not Voting as Violence?

Anthony Smith also known as for his blog “Musings of a Postmodern Negro” has written a great and thought-provoking post on voting from the perspective of black history and theology. He says:

Voting, as it is oftentimes seen by historically marginalized groups, is a precious gift. It is not seen, within the language game of the prophetic black church, as a form of violence. That voting is seen as means of violence can only come from Christians who don’t know what it is like to be without the gift. This is why the loudest voices for political disengagement on Gospel grounds tend to be of lighter hue. It is another form of advantage to eschew voting. I profoundly agree with Christians engaging in anti-imperial practices or pro-kingdom activities that give sign to another world in our midst. But understand my suspicion.

(Not Voting as Violence: Or Why I Get Suspicious When White Men Tell Me Not to Vote)

I encourage you to check out the rest of this post and as well as the comments. I appreciate his insight and his challenge to what seems like an increasingly popular “I’m not voting because I’m a Christian” position. As a side note, I appreciate David Fitch’s arguments as well (see the link in the quote) and I agree with a number of his criticisms (his post is well worth equal consideration and offers a number of healthy warnings), but ultimately I land on the side Smith takes.

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Wess

...is the William R. Roger Director of Friends Center and Quaker Studies at Guilford College in Greensboro, NC., PhD in Intercultural Studies from Fuller Theological Seminary, served as a "released minister" at Camas Friends Church, and father of three. He enjoys sketchnoting, sharing conversation over coffee with a friend, listening to vinyl and writing creative nonfiction.

3 thoughts on “Anthony Smith on Not Voting as Violence?”

  1. Hi Wess

    I really appreciated this link and was very interested to read the post and the comments.

    As a Brit I don’t feel qualified to comment directly but I thought I’d just say to you that I see parallels between the black vote in the US and votes for women in the UK. Certainly I have always felt a responsibility to vote, however hopeless a gesture I thought it, because of all my disenfranchised foremothers and so that Emily Wilding Davison may not have died in vain!

    The whole argument about the church not voting also reminds me of Quakers holding themselves apart from the world, hedged about, and that never seemed a good move – but I would be interested in your views on that.

    In friendship
    Gil

  2. Hi Gil, nice to hear from you. I appreciate your perspective and can see how these two points are interrelated.

    In terms of Quakers withdrawing, my clearest exposition of that question is over at Barclay Press: http://www.barclaypress.com/wdaniels.php/2008/05/01/the-temptation-to-surrender

    That’s my reading of Friends history and I’d follow Carole Spencer’s point (in her book on Holiness) that even during Quietism there was outreach and mission being done.

    And I’m not sure if you saw this recent quote I posted from a Quaker Missionary but I basically represent that view: http://gatheringinlight.com/2008/08/28/cattell-on-the-desire-to-remain-uncontaminated/

    Thanks for the comment.

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