Felon voting rights: a Christian issue?

By July 30, 2014
(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?

Please share your thoughts in the Comments section below.


  • Former felons have paid their debt to society. I believe they should be allowed to vote.

  • I agree, it is essential to adopt a restorative mind-set. Sid Rooy

  • Thomas House says:

    We are a society of hypocrisy. We ask ourselves, “Why can’t these people get their acts straight? Why can’t they just be productive members of society.” But then we fail to allow them the to possess the tools to do just that.

    We can legally discriminate against them when filling jobs. We ask on their job applications if they have ever been convicted of a felony, and if they answer “yes”, then we toss their application in the “circle file”, not even bothering to look to see if the crime has anything to do with their ability to do the job, or looking to see how qualified they are for the job. We also can legally discriminate against them with regards to housing. If they are former felons, we can refuse to rent to them, based on their PAST, instead of their current status.

    When we deny them the ability to get a job, deny them the ability to secure adequate housing, deny the right to vote and have a say in our political system, deny them the right to be a “normal” member of society, is it any wonder why they can’t get their act straight? For so many, it is just easier for them to commit another crime, just so they can have a roof over their heads and food to eat and not have to deal with the perpetual punishment that is theirs, though they have already done the prescribed time for their crimes. Still others commit suicide…and what a tragedy: they prematurely end their lives to avoid a seemingly never-ending punishment, without knowing Christ, so they wind up living an eternity in never-ending punishment. We as Christians are not doing our jobs to live as examples, to forgive as Christ has forgiven us, and to share the good news to others who need to hear the Word of God. Dr. Shuringa, thank you for speaking out for biblical common sense….we need more like you to do the same.

  • Hi my name is John, I was made a felon over child support, back in 2004 .I paid it from 24,000.00 to 2300.00 since then I retired from work, due to hip replacement. After become a felon, I could not reinstate to my former employer which was the department of corrections, i was superviser over the maintenance. Denied places to rent , denied jobs. Now that I’m retired and living on less than 1200.00 a month. I will never get it paid off. So when I hear felons can be a Christian, and be forgiven. I just can’t believe that, because I don’t see any forgiveness. I’m 59 and I’m going to leave this world a piece of trash. At least in state of Ohios eyes. I have grown to hate myself, what does it matter I’m a felon.

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