Faithful citizenship: Duties of a Christian voter

Haley Keding

Like oil and water, religion and politics often don’t mix, but Thursday night the Catholic Student Association combined these controversial topics in a discussion called, “Faithful Citizenship.”

The discussion encouraged students to form a Christian conscious and subsequently vote. Mary Lynn Delfino, pastoral associate for Campus Ministry, began the night by addressing the Catholic obligations associated with voting.

“The church trusts us and says we have a responsibility to vote with our conscience,” Delfino said.

The event featured guest speakers Barb Hipsman Springer and Jane Preston Rose from The League of Women Voters, which “encourages active and informed citizen participation.”

The two women brought a variety of material to inform students about issues, candidates and voting locations.

“In order to vote, you need to know what you’re voting for,” Rose said.

The speakers also touched on common misunderstandings associated with Catholic voters, such as the notion that the pope tells American Catholics how they should or should not vote.

“The pope does not tell American citizens how to vote,” Delfino said. “As a church, we are a nonprofit organization, so we cannot endorse any particular candidate.”

As a Catholic voter, Delfino said it’s important to think of what will “do good and avoid evil.”

Regardless of religious affiliation, “Faithful Citizenship” sought to encourage all students to participate in the upcoming election. However, a student cannot participate in the election if he or she does not register first.

“For an average citizen, that is the only power you have,” said Joshua Lewis, a senator-at-large for Undergraduate Student Government.

Springer and Rose addressed the substantial impact one vote can have on a decision at the local level.

“You can ask the mayor of Kent, Jerry Fiala, whether or not votes count,” Rose said.

While running for mayor, Fiala and his opponent ended in a tie.  A coin toss determined the winner of the election.

“The reason it was a tie vote was his opponent had a son who forgot to send in his absentee ballot,” Rose said.

Lewis brought up another issue associated with registration.

“If you are not registered to vote in the community you live in, you have no right to complain,” Lewis said. “The point of complaining is to address a problem, but if there is no action that follows, there’s no point.”

Contact Haley Keding at [email protected].