In November 2023, Ohio voters approved a radical abortion amendment, enshrining late-term abortion into their state constitution.  Michigan voters passed a similar devastating amendment just one year ago.  These election results are understandably shocking to committed pro-life Christians and worth unpacking for deeper reflection.  First, we must grapple with some seemingly incongruent data.  Recent, reliable polling from Pew Research shows that the vast majority of Americans (and presumably the vast majority of Michigan and Ohio voters) oppose late-term abortion, yet it was also a majority that legalized the same.  How is this possible?  We can discuss many factors, including the not-insignificant amount of money involved, tens of millions to propel these supposed “citizen initiatives” onto the ballot.  A second, closely related factor was the outright deception, including false claims that if the proposed amendment was not passed, Republican elected officials would ban ectopic pregnancy care.  The millions of advertising dollars then amplified such deceptions through TV ads, social media, and mailboxes while underfunded pro-life organizations struggled to reach voters with the truth.  Mass mail-in ballots and unreliable voter rolls have only added to the general uneasiness about election results.

Shall we then, as Christians, assuage our grief with the knowledge that we were up against an insurmountable systemic force?  Should American citizens, voters and non-voters alike, relieve themselves of responsibility for election outcomes on account of this deception, the possibility of election tampering, and their own ignorance?  Certainly, the answer is no, and Scripture explicitly reproaches such self-inflicted ignorance: “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge” (Hos. 4:6).  While 73 percent of Ohio adults and 70 percent of Michigan adults self-identify as Christians, their lack of knowledge is destroying the lives of the unborn and the moral fabric of the states they reside in.  “How long, ye simple ones, will ye love simplicity? And the scorners delight in their scorning, and fools hate knowledge?” (Prov. 1:22)

It has been nearly 250 years since the American self-government experiment began.  In that time, there has never been more opportunity for the American citizen to relieve his ignorance — with access to Scripture, abundant commentaries on the same, the vast library of our founding documents, the inner parliamentary functions and minutes of body of government, and the ability to thoroughly research our ballot choices.  The full text of every ballot proposal is at the fingertips of every American citizen, yet millions choose the comfort and simplicity of remaining in ignorance rather than donning the mantle of responsibility to inform themselves and their neighbors of the truth.  We have traded knowledge and wisdom that could be gained through research in mere hours for the simplicity of a deceptive mailer that comforts our foolishness.

It is in no way, certain, or even likely, that our Constitution and the rights it outlines (the first of which allows me to write these words and you to read them without fear of imprisonment) will continue to exist for years to come.  Late historian Richard Beeman wrote, “If there is a lesson in all of this, it is that our Constitution is neither a self-actuating, nor a self-correcting document.  It requires the constant attention and devotion of all citizens.  There is a story, often told, that upon exiting the Constitutional Convention, Benjamin Franklin was approached by a group of citizens asking what sort of government the delegates had created.  His answer was: ‘A Republic, if you can keep it.’  The brevity of that response should not cause us to undervalue its essential meaning: democratic republics are not merely founded upon the consent of the people; they are also absolutely dependent upon the active and informed involvement of the people for their continued good health.”