Venus and Serena are not Voting for Barack Obama… Why? June 25, 2008

Venus and Serena are not Voting for Barack Obama… Why?

Tennis stars Venus and Serena Williams aren’t voting for Barack Obama.

Venus just doesn’t get involved in politics. Serena wants to vote for Obama — she says she’s “excited to see Obama out there doing his thing” –but she won’t.

Why not?

They’re Jehovah’s Witnesses. And voting is forbidden in the faith.

“I’m a Jehovah’s Witness, so I don’t get involved in politics. We stay neutral. We don’t vote,” [Serena] said. “So I’m not going to necessarily go out and vote for him. I would if it wasn’t for my religion.”

Because we all know God hates people who have a sense of civic duty.

Amiable Atheist says this might be a good thing, adding:

… maybe if less religious people voted, we wouldn’t be having all these problems allowing gay people equal rights, giving women the right to choose, letting evolution be taught in schools, and giving scientists the freedom and funding to find cures for diseases. And we probably wouldn’t be in the middle of a war.

In all seriousness though, I find it incredible that a religious group would encourage their followers not to have a voice or opinion about important matters. I guess they really are just waiting for the afterlife.

[tags]atheist, atheism, Venus Williams[/tags]

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  • I don’t think that’s true – my mother is a Jehovah’s Witness, and has yet to miss an election since she converted.

  • Siamang

    I guess they really are just waiting for the afterlife.

    And playing tennis. That’s much more important than voting.

  • Kage no Kami

    As a former Jehovahs Witness I can say that while voting is discourged ( it’s considered an unacceptable compromise of ones Christian values ) it’s viewed as something that is ones own choice, and if civil laws explicity demand voting then a believer must comply. See here an example from doctrinal literature for more info,

    btw. I am a long time lurker here. Love the site, keep up the good work.

  • bradm

    Not voting is not equivalent to not having “a voice or opinion about important matters.” Triple negative … wow.

  • I am in favor of superstitious nitwits NOT voting. It’s just my personal taste.

  • I’m an ex-Jehovah’s Witness. I think Kage no Kami may have been in the religion after I was and they may have tweaked that particular rule, as they tend to do. When I was growing up it was pressed upon me in no uncertain terms that voting was forbidden. These are people who believe that the world may end tomorrow. It just doesn’t make sense to vote or do anything to help any civic cause in a culture where you’re supposed to ignore the world and pray every day for it to end.

  • Kage no Kami

    I was a JW from birth up until the age of 20. JW’s have a peculiar way of saying that something is up to owns conscience while making it absolutelty clear that its still a no-no. Technically voting is allowed, as has been for many years, but is strongly frowned upon. The mere act of voting wont lead to censure or disfellowshipping though, unless one has the misfortune of dealing with elders with larger than average poles up their asses.

  • Kage no Kami

    Plus there’s the whole “new light” hokiness of modern JW doctrine.

  • Jeff Satterley

    The JW’s should get the Williams sisters go door-to-door…. Might get a few more people to listen to their message that way. 🙂

    (How does that work, anyway? Do some JW’s just volunteer to do that, or is there some moral obligation to do it? I’ve been curious recently…)

  • Darryl

    Ah, for a minute there I was just imagining what the country would be like if the religious wingnuts didn’t vote . . . sigh.

  • TXatheist

    Yeah, they say they aren’t part of this world, doing worldly things, and new system where no crime, no death…yada yada awaits them so they don’t worry about the current system. That was when I was studying with them.

  • TXatheist

    Oh, and it’s probably for the better they don’t vote, they would vote for the anti-choice candidate.

  • TXatheist

    Jeff, if they have met the approval of the elders they can go “out in service”, door knocking. And no one was rude to me but they love to pretend people are mean to them.

  • Desert Son

    I guess I don’t understand. If voting is frowned upon because of the supposedly imminent end of the world . . .

    . . . why is professional tennis o.k.?

    After all, why train, why practice, if tomorrow, it might all just end? Why strive for anything at all, really? Especially since professional tennis could be seen as having great civic impact, inspiring, oh, I don’t know, let’s say maybe minority population girls and young women to try their hand (and really excel) at something that has long been the arena of (mostly) white people (not to mention an arena in which many of the women’s top prizes at least used to be less than the men’s)? The Williams sisters no doubt make pretty good money, too. Why? Why save? Isn’t that too much attention on the material?

    No kings,

    Desert Son

  • kay

    I was a JDub for 10 years. They do not get involved in politics. They believe that to do so it supporting “Satan’s” empire. I figured that Serena and Venus were no longer JWs because of their tennis careers. Witnesses also strongly look down on getting involved in anything that “glorifies man.” Guess that doesn’t apply in their (or Prince’s) case.

    I imagine you could be a JW and still vote. Just don’t tell anyone and hope that no one sees you at the polls. You might not get disfellowshipped, but you’ll most likely get “reproved” and shunned.

    So glad I left.

  • kay

    PS – I commented without reading the above comments. Just to clarify that I’m not arguing against what any of the other ex-JWs above said. 🙂

  • Color me confused

    I don’t believe they’re wrong 4 not voting, it’s their choice right? Who r u judge them. From what I know about them, they believe only God’s government can make “real” changes and provide a better way of life 4 the entire world of mankind not just a few people. So if u look at it from their eyes y put stock n something that u don’t believe n, that’s like asking a kid 2 choose between eating brussel sprouts or okra when they can hold out 4 pizza. Come on let’s b 4 real i have yet 2 c some real progress from any gov when it comes 2 ridding the U.S. let alone the world of racism, crime, housing, & healthcare. And look @ the oil crisis we’re n now! So i can’t afford 2 buy gas that’s overpriced & still going up or 2 buy a metro card that’s going up again which will allow me 2 go 2 wk making just enough 2 allow me 2 pay my rent and 4 my transportation which may or may not incld getting food 4 me 2 eat let alone enough food 4 my kids if i had any or 2 go on vac meanwhile this MTA exec gets a 30 million pay raise under the title of “cost of living increase” WHAT COST OF LIVING INCREASE i need that much 2 get me out of debt and pay my mortgage off!!!!!!!! Btw, i don’t believe the williams sis r real JW’s anyway

  • TXatheist

    Desert Son, it’s actually quite sad but many JW people gave up everything materialistically when JW leaders said that the world was ending in 1914 and then again in 1975. I can’t remember exactly when the last one was but they will deny it if you ask them how many times they’ve predicted the end of this system will happen.

  • uhhhhh, because voting for an African American because you’re an African American and voting for a woman because you’re a woman and voting for an old white guy because you’re an old white guy are just stupid

  • Desert Son


    Thanks for those notes, I didn’t know about previous historical context, and it’s interesting to consider 1914 as one of the years of potential ending, being as it was the start of 5+ very bad years for much of the world, but interesting still that “the world” as a unit didn’t end, war and swine flu notwithstanding. I seem to recall that there was some upheaval in Medieval Europe around 1000 c.e., many thinking that such would be indicative of the return of Christ, and then a big scramble to retcon that to 1033 c.e., because, after all, Christ supposedly died in his 30s, near as some scholars can figure.

    On the cognitive dissonance front, I always wonder what the faithful think when they wake up on the first morning of 1001 c.e. (or 1034 c.e., or 1915 c.e., or 1976 c.e.). It might be interesting to learn that was when some, though maybe not many, began to look elsewhere for a lens through which to view experience.

    Thanks again.

    No kings,


  • The Bible uses the word “ambassadors” illustrating for us the politically neutral role Christians are to play:

    “We are therefore ambassadors substituting for Christ, as though God were making entreaty through us. As substitutes for Christ we beg: ‘Become reconciled to God.'” 2 Cor 5:20

    If you were an ambassador from a foreign country stationed here in the U.S. (where I am), you would adapt to all laws and customs locally. You’d likely come to love the land in which you live, and its people. But when it came to the politics of your host country, you wouldn’t take a position…nor would anyone expect you to. It is not your business…your business is to represent wherever you are ambassador from. Even if heavy issues develop and positions evolve for which, since you live here, you may have some feelings, still, it is not your job to take sides. Your lack of involvement would not be because of callousness, or apathy, or lack of interest in fellowman…but it is simply not your place, representing another government, to take sides in the disputes of your host country.

    Now, God’s Kingdom is a government very real to Jehovah‘s Witnesses. It is the government with which God will bring an end to human rule, unite all peoples, restore earth to it’s original paradise state, and extend everlasting life to all those under it’s rule. We view it as the only hope for mankind. No amount of tweaking of human governments will ever approach what God brings through his own rule. We believe that it rules from heaven now, and will shortly extend its rule earth wide. Those who believe in it are charged to represent it, to announce it….in effect, to act as ambassadors of that government.

    It’s a role. That’s not to deny that there are other roles which people may play honorably. Though we do think ours is the role that will endure over the long run.

    The Williams sisters are athletes, not JW spokespersons. They can’t be expected to give long-winded statements on religious convictions. Few want to hear it anyway. Easier to say “We don’t do it.”

  • Desert Son

    tom sheepandgoats,

    I have to respectfully disagree on your interpretation of what an ambassador is. I bet there’s not a neutral governmental ambassador on planet Earth. I would also submit that most, if not all, have very intense vested interest in the goings on of the host country, including its politics, environment, economy, and so forth. Moreover, I bet those ambassadors are specifically charged by their governments with trying to effect as much (diplomatic) influence toward mutually (or at least primarily) beneficial development of policy within the nation.

    Ambassadors are much more than just goodwill folks, I think. I think ambassadors would and do take political positions. I think they do it all the time. And I think it is their business to do so. But it may be that you and I have different definitions of ambassadorial work.

    Regardless, I do think your interpretation sheds light on one reason the Williams sisters say they don’t participate in civic processes. Presumably, in their church, there are no political processes either. Folks don’t gather to vote on church related issues and business, don’t lobby for church policy one way or another, don’t negotiate for management and maintenance and development.

    No kings,


  • Nonetheless, they (ambassadors) don’t vote. That was the immediate question, and that’s the reason I employed the scripture I did.

    I suppose you could say we, too, try to influence, if not the host governments, at least the citizens of those governments:

    “We are therefore ambassadors substituting for Christ, as though God were making entreaty through us. As substitutes for Christ we beg: ‘Become reconciled to God.’” 2 Cor 5:20

    All the same, it’s a thoughtful reply you’ve made, Robert. The illustration is not so “pure” as I imagined it was, or at least it does not suffer from minor qualification.

  • Someone who knows

    People always talk what they don’t know and what they think is right.Most people are more followers then leaders,no one wants to stand up and fight for what they believe in.I personally think that if you think you know a little about the religion keep your personal comments to yourself,and if they don’t know any thing ,then people need to keep there opinions to there self.No one is perfect in this world and should not judge any one religious decision.For who ever wants to vote,VOTE!! For who ever don’t believe in voting or who just do’t feel comfortable voting,DON”T!! It will not make a big difference at all. PEOPLE!! Please stop hating on what you don’t know and drawing unnessassary conclusions..Let them girls play tennis and stop discouraging them from what they believe in…

  • vicky

    I never thought the Williams sisters were real JWs in the first place. Besides that, God hates people who have a sense of civic duty? You came to that from a tiny minority religion?

    What other quantum leaps in logic do you make?

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