Wednesday, June 03, 2009

A call to vote

This week is election week. On Thursday, the people of Norfolk will be electing a new County Council and members of the European Parliament. We do so at a time when the integrity of politicians is under question by many, as a result of the ongoing MP’s expenses scandal and also in the context of a continuing world-wide recession. Turnouts in these elections are often low and there is a temptation for people to reject all parties, stay at home and keep out of politics. This would be a mistake. I believe that Christians in particular are called to participate fully in the political process and that means voting. It was Archbishop Desmond Tutu who remarks that when people tell him that religion and politics shouldn’t mix, he is puzzled as to which Bible they are reading.

Politics is concerned with debate over values, with worldview, with the shaping of society. Surely that wholly coincides with the Church’s mission? And even if its impact ends up muted or ignored, nevertheless the Church is at least being faithful in seeking to connect God with the contemporary world. Theology too must surely be related to the public sphere. For if theology is not about disciplined and applied reflection on the nature and destiny of life, involving an ultimate and absolute frame of reference, what is it? Christians should therefore endorse and model an intimate, interactive relationship between God and the world. Christ himself called them to engage with the world without compromising their faith (John 17). Politics is an essential aspect of human social activity. Because they are human beings participating in everyday relationships, Christians are, by definition, ‘political’. And because knowledge of God necessarily involves concern for justice and love in action, today’s means of offering food to the hungry and water to the thirsty inevitably involves activity of a political nature. We are called to be effective stewards of our environment and community.

Christians in Politics is an umbrella organisation facilitating dialogue and partnerships between Christians in all the major political parties. It strives to encourage engagement with and participation in the political process; to foster civic literacy amongst faith groups and religious literacy amongst government agencies and public sector organisations; and to build partnerships with minority faith groups and the voluntary sector. No one party can ever legitimately claim to be the one true Christian voice and on most issues, Christians find themselves on different sides of debates within and between political parties but do so in an atmosphere of mutual respect and constructive discussion. Each major party has an active Christian group within it (Conservative Christian Fellowship, Christian Socialist Movement and Liberal Democrat Christian Forum) enjoying more influence than any narrow fringe grouping. Contrary to current public perceptions, there is a strong contingent of people of religious faith serving their communities as councillors, MPs and MEPs, doing so for the right reasons, making a real contribution to the common good and putting principles into practise. These people deserve our prayerful support. Public and political should be a noble calling.
The European elections are important. The EU was founded on the Christian principles of international co-operation, social justice, compassion, hospitality, equality, freedom and tolerance and these values should influence our votes on Thursday.
The Rev’d Simon Wilson is Chaplain and Press Officer to the Liberal Democrat Christian Forum. For further information visit:

1 comment:

Simon Wilson said...

A version of this article can be found at: