Felon voting rights: a Christian issue?

(Photo courtesy Vox EFX via Flickr)

(Photo courtesy Vox EFX via Flickr)

USA (MNN) — No sinner is beyond the redemptive power of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. But, should redemption stop at the soul?

Dr. David Schuringa of Crossroad Bible Institute says ex-felon voting rights should be included in the holistic scope of redemption.

“The Bible’s not about payback and revenge,” says Schuringa. “We must get out of our heads that punishment is about payback and retribution. Punishment should be about restoration and rehabilitation.”

Last week, Schuringa advocated for felon voting rights and offered a faith-based perspective on the issue at a bipartisan U.S. Senate briefing. The talk revolved around the Democracy Restoration Act (DRA), a piece of legislation that would restore federal voting rights to former felons.

More on the DRA here.

“Voting is a very, very important part of being invested in our communities, rather than being on the fringes with nothing to say,” Schuringa observes.

In biblical curriculum developed specifically for prison inmates, CBI teaches their students why being involved in a community is important. It’s all about giving back, instead of taking from others.

(Photo cred: CBI)

(Photo cred: CBI)

“[Voting is] something that will give you a voice, and then you are invested in [the community] and want to be part of it,” explains Schuringa. If ex-felons are actively involved in their community, they are less likely to commit a crime that would place them back in prison.

When confronted with the issue of felon voting rights and the Christian’s response, Schuringa is reminded of God’s commands in Proverbs 31:8 and 9: “Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy.” (NIV)

“What better way to be a voice for the voiceless than to give the voiceless a voice? And that is the vote. We are a country of second chances,” Schuringa observes.

The entire Bible shows that mankind cannot payback or redeem themselves for wrongs they’ve committed, he adds. That’s why Jesus Christ was sent to be our Savior and redeem our fallen relationship with God the Father. Through salvation, we are offered a “second chance” at righteousness.

But, for many people–Christians included, redemption doesn’t apply to non-spiritual issues.

“We’re pretty much a ‘revenge culture,'” Schuringa says, describing U.S. society.

The Gospel message is one of redemption through the salvation offered freely by Jesus Christ. Should that redemption stop at the soul?

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