There is an admirable tradition of Christian political involvement in this country with people such as William Wilberforce campaigning to bring an end to the global slave trade and the philanthropist, Anthony Ashley Cooper, better known as the 7th Earl of Shaftesbury, who reformed the child labour laws and was instrumental in bringing education to the inner cities through his sponsorship of the ‘Ragged Schools.’
These reforms, and many others like them, have enhanced the well being of many and given opportunities to those who, previously, had little, if any, ambition and hope for their lives. They are a legacy of which we can be justifiably proud – even if you don’t share their Christian faith or political stance.
On entering politics, Charles de Gaulle is reported to have remarked:
I have come to the conclusion that politics are too serious a matter to be left to the politicians.
(Someone more cynical than me might suggest that this is as true today as it has ever been as we reflect on Parliament over the past two years – or more!)
It is, admittedly, very difficult to argue that only one party is worthy of Christian support. Sometimes it is suggested that parties all share the same political ‘ends’ – justice, compassion, community, prosperity, social cohesion, etc. – and only disagree about the ‘means’ to realise them.
If it’s true that Christians are ‘trying to make the world a better place’ we simply cannot allow cynicism or apathy as an excuse to disengage ourselves from the political process. The privileges of living in a democracy mean that we should use our votes thoughtfully, prayerfully and with the good of others in mind, not just our own interests.
Some people often ask if there anything distinctive about how Christians cast their vote. If there is, it is probably that we vote not seeking what is best for us; but what is best for our neighbour; what is best for our community; what is best for the nation as a whole; and what is best for our world. It is what Christians call working for the ‘common good.’
On 12 December 2019, many of you will be asking such questions as: ‘How can I make my vote count?’ and ‘Which party should I vote for?’
As you reflect on these important questions, why not consider the following:
Don’t be ashamed of supporting Christian values – because those values are best for our nation.
Vote, don’t abstain – make your vote count!
Don’t blindly vote for a party – look for the personal values of your candidate!
Vote for the local candidate first and the party second – politics, like faith, is best lived out in the community where you live.
To be living at such a time as this is, surely, a significant opportunity for Christian’s to offer a distinctively different way of living for those who have lost hope and confidence in the political system by reminding them of the hope and confidence we can have in the Lord Jesus, who is: ‘The same yesterday, today and forever.’
May God bless you as you engage with these important decisions and as you seek to support the ‘common good’ of your Community, Town, Borough and Nation.
The Church of England has released the following prayer ahead of the General Election:
Lord, we give thanks for the privileges and responsibilities of living in a democratic society.
Give us wisdom to play our part at election time, that, through the exercise of each vote, your Kingdom may come closer.
Protect us from the sins of despair and cynicism, guard us against the idols of false utopias and strengthen us to make politics a noble calling that serves the common good of all.
We ask this in the name of Jesus Christ Our Lord. Amen.
Download a helpful resource that tells us How To Pray For Our Leaders
A similar article to this has been uploaded in the past about General and Local Elections.
So when you put local first, doesn’t that also mean you put “you” first? Which is ultimately a selfish act. Surely you should consider what’s best for everyone, rather than your small patch? So for example, if you believe that climate change is a major issue but your otherwise good local MP thinks it’s a hoax what do you do then?
Hi Phil thanks for writing. Wanting the best for Billericay is not selfish as we all benefit however ref climate change is a fair point. I actually think this election is less about policy or even brexit but more a choice between Corbyn or Johnson for PM. Could be a fascinating outcome.