One thing that most people will agree on is that religion and politics are topics that can cause a lot of disagreements. For this reason, many people will not discuss either one for fear of getting into an argument. Likewise, there are a lot of people who have differing opinions on whether faith should have any influence on politics or if politics should have any influence on faith. This often leads people of faith to ask, should a politician’s faith matter for the voting Christian?
What did America’s founders believe about faith and government?
Several years ago, while researching the writings of America’s founders for my doctoral dissertation and a later book, I discovered that they believed that faith in Christ was the foundation of liberty and freedom. They believed that if a person’s heart was ruled by the Holy Spirit, fewer laws would need to be passed to control behaviors, address crime, and govern the nation.
From the Declaration of Independence to the drafting of the U.S. Constitution, the founders believed that Biblical principles, which constituted non-sectarian (non-denominational) Christianity, were the only foundation that would guarantee religious freedom for people of all faiths. For this reason, the Bible was taught extensively in schools, so that children of all faiths would know what is expected when it comes to living in a Christian nation. 
Sadly, many people have no knowledge of these facts. It was for this same reason the U.S. Supreme Court reaffirmed America’s Christian heritage in 1892 in a decision they made in Church of the Holy Trinity v. United States, 143 U.S. 457 (1892). They ruled that laws passed to prevent foreign labor did not apply to a church that hired a pastor from England. Justice David Josiah Brewer documented for the court in great detail how America was a Christian nation founded on Christianity with liberty of conscience to all men (1).
What the founders said:
These principles were the basis for numerous statements by America’s founders and leaders when it came to the people’s involvement in the affairs of the nation:
“The general principles on which the fathers achieved independence were the general principles of Christianity. I will avow that I then believed, and now believe, that those general principles of Christianity are as eternal and immutable as the existence and attributes of God.” John Adams (2)
“Providence has given to our people the choice of their rulers, and it is the duty as well as the privilege and interest of our Christian nation, to select and prefer Christians for their rulers.” John Jay (3)
“Our citizens should early understand that the genuine source of correct republican principles is the Bible, particularly the New Testament, or the Christian religion.” Noah Webster (4)
“Let each citizen remember at the moment he is offering his vote that he is not making a present or a compliment to please an individual – or at least that he ought not so to do; but that he is executing one of the most solemn trusts in human society for which he is accountable to God and his country.” Samuel Adams (5)
“The Americans are the first people whom Heaven has favored with an opportunity of deliberating upon and choosing the forms of government under which they should live.” John Jay (6)
It is obvious from these quotes and many others not included that the founders believed that the principles of Christianity were essential to the creation, maintenance, and survival of the nation.
Where should we look for guidance on voting?
We must remember that the founders were fallible imperfect human beings like us. Therefore, our guidance on government and voting needs to be from the same higher authority that they used, the Bible. We can learn the following from the Bible about government and voting:
- Jesus was the embodiment of righteous government: Isaiah 9:6-7; Revelation 19:11-16
- Authority for government is ordained by God: Romans 13:1-3; 1 Peter 2:13-17
- We are to be active in supporting government and respecting and praying for those in authority: 2 Chronicles 7:14-15; Mark 12:13-17; Romans 13:4-8; 1 Timothy 2:1-2
- Ungodly rulers bring a curse upon a nation: Judges 2:8-15; 2 Kings 17; Proverbs 24:21-22
- We should always obey what God says if anyone or government tells us to do something different: Acts 5:26-32; Luke 20:20-26
While these guidelines frame for us what should be our relationship with government, we have been blessed with the ability to elect those who represent us and lead us. Therefore, if we elect someone to represent us, then they must also represent our values and beliefs. This was demonstrated in how Moses chose men to serve as judges and rulers as follows:
Moreover thou shalt provide out of all the people able men, such as fear God, men of truth, hating covetousness; and place such over them, to be rulers of thousands, and rulers of hundreds, rulers of fifties, and rulers of tens: (Exodus 18:21)
This passage tells us that Moses chose Godly men to work in government. His actions were in keeping with the perfect righteous representation we have through Jesus Christ, whom is our advocate before our heavenly Father. Therefore we should use his example as a model of whom we choose to represent and serve us in government (1 John 2:1).
If we choose someone to represent and lead us in government that does not have a relationship with Christ, how can they meet the standard that Moses and Jesus provided for us? How can they represent the faith and values of their constituents of faith if they do not fear God  or know the truth of His Word (1 Kings 17:24; James 1:17-18)? If they do not have the Holy Spirit in them, how can they have sound righteous judgment and discernment (Psalms 2:10-12; Proverbs 9:10-11; 1 Corinthians 2:9-16)?
In early American history, the founders believed that citizens should be directly involved in their government. They also believed that the principles of Christianity were essential to the creation, maintenance, and survival of the nation. For this reason, they advised the voting populace to elect Christians to office. Despite their good intentions and noble reasons, we must look to the Bible as our source of how government should be operated and how those in government should be chosen for election. Since we have been blessed with the ability to choose those who represent and lead us, we must seek those who share our faith so that they can best represent who we are and what we believe as citizens and children of God.
Related reading: Should Christians Vote? 
Resources – Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, King James Version. Williams, Michael L. (2008). Silenced in the schoolhouse: How Biblical Illiteracy in Our Schools Is Destroying America. Jefferson, Ohio: Wisdom4Today. (1) U.S. Supreme Court, Church of the Holy Trinity v. United States, 143 U.S. 457 (1892) Retrieved from https://supreme.justia.com/cases/federal/us/143/457/case.html. (2) Thomas Jefferson, The Writings of Thomas Jefferson (Washington D. C.: The Thomas Jefferson Memorial Association, 1904), Vol. XIII, p. 292-294. In a letter from John Adams to Thomas Jefferson on June 28, 1813. (3) William Jay, The Life of John Jay (New York: J. & J. Harper, 1833), Vol. II, p. 376, to John Murray Jr. on October 12, 1816. (4) Noah Webster, History of the United States (New Haven: Durrie and Peck, 1832), p. 6. (5) Samuel Adams, The Writings of Samuel Adams, Harry Alonzo Cushing, editor (New York: G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 1907), Vol. IV, p. 256, in the Boston Gazette on April 16, 1781. (6) John Jay, The Correspondence and Public Papers of John Jay, Henry P. Johnston, ed. (New York: G.P. Putnams Sons, 1890), Vol. I, p. 161.