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After the joys of Easter Sunday, the news of the upcoming General Election wasn’t quite the new life, hope and resurrection I’d been looking forward to—nevertheless, this is the situation in which we find ourselves!
During and after last year’s referendum, as a Church we touched on the sometimes complicated relationship between faith and politics. Personally, I don’t think it is the Church’s role (and definitely not the ministers’) to tell anyone how to vote, nor to claim that Jesus would have been a member of a particular party. But I do think it is the Church’s role (and, therefore, mine) to point people towards The Bible, to different aspects of the Christian Tradition, and—most particularly—towards Jesus Christ as we seek to make wise decisions for ourselves, our community and this country.
What do the biblical narratives, the prophets, the Israelites and early Christian communities have to say to us about the issues that matter? Of course, many aspects of the Bible were particular to their historical era and might need translating or re-contextualising for the 21st Century. But issues of justice? Of equality? Of how we are to treat the poor, the sick, the disabled, the elderly, the disadvantaged? Issues of how we are to manage and respond to power? Issues of peace? Issues of how we are to treat strangers?
These are timeless—and timely—issues which I believe the Christian tradition has much to say about in 2017.
During Elections such as these, it can be easy to be swung by an emotive or provocative soundbite, by charisma over meaningful policy. It can also be easy to be so overwhelmed by all the issues and competing campaigns that we retreat into a kind of confused apathy. It can be easy to dig ourselves ever deeper into entrenched views and be unwilling to listen openly to alternatives. Or to simply vote for who we’ve always voted for out of habit rather than as a proactive decision. And it can be all too easy for any of us to vote from a place of fear or greed, or in order to hold on to what we’ve already got.
So my simple suggestion is that as we prepare to cast our vote on 8th June, we look first to Jesus Christ and the voices of others in Scripture, and to then prayerfully consider how we might most positively vote for the good of all when it comes to the kinds of crucial issues above. This doesn’t make it any less complex, and of course it won’t mean we all end up voting in the same way, but it might not be a bad place to start…