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The English Democrats' candidate in Chippenham, Jon Maguire, has claimed that to vote for his party is to vote “with God”.
While many candidates and campaigners understandably seek to support policies and positions that they consider to be in line with God's will, this is the first time in this election that I have discovered a candidate basically saying that God is on his side.
Maguire made his claim in a message sent out through Christian networks on the internet.
He says that he found himself unable to vote Conservative, Labour or Liberal Democrat, because they all believe in same-sex marriage. This isn't really true, as Labour and the Tories believe in “civil partnership” and refuse to allow the word “marriage” (although the Tories say they'd consider it). But Maguire decided to join the English Democrats, because this is “a party that states a Christian view of marriage in its manifesto”.
Maguire has every right to join a party that reflects his views. But his statements about marriage, God and the election raise a number of important questions.
Firstly, why should a Christian choose which party to vote for based solely on its policies on marriage? I appreciate that it is a question of great importance to Jon Maguire, but he implies in his message that it is the only issue that will matter to Christian voters. Jesus had a lot more to say about poverty, violence, exploitation and the abuse of power than he did about marriage. Should we not take these issues into account? For example, the English Democrats' opposition to immigration hardly echoes the Bible's repeated injunctions to welcome the stranger.
Secondly, does Maguire believe that marriage today is exactly the same as it was in biblical times? This is implied by his suggestion that only one form of marriage is blessed by God. Such a naïve view overlooks the diversity of relationships in the Bible (including polygamy) and the many varieties in Christian marital practice since then (such as the temporary “trial” marriages for a year and a day carried out by Christians in ancient Ireland).
Thirdly, do the English Democrats consider it acceptable for one of their candidates to claim that to vote for their party is to “vote with God”? Like many Christians, I seek to support policies which follow the spirit and teachings of Christ, although I recognise that other Christians will sincerely reach conclusions very different to mine. We are called to combine our commitment with humility.
To claim that God supports our party is to use the rhetoric of crusaders and bigots, not the language of democratic candidates.
The full text of Jon Maguire's email is below:
Dear Sir / Madam
There is much concern within Christian circles about the seemingly non-stop attack on marriage and the family being driven by the Government under the auspices of the so called Equality bill. The thrust of the legislation also carries the support of the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats. Christians now face the reality of the law forcing churches to allow single sex partners to be 'married' in a church. As we know, marriage is a biblical term and can only be used in the context of the union of a man and a woman.
I want to share a way you can vote in the General Election and not compromise your faith. I have been unable to vote for the last two elections because of the Conservative, Labour and Lib Dem views on marriage. God is explicit that the union is between a man and a woman, these political parties say that it can be between a man and a man or a woman and a woman. How can I vote for them when they push for something that God is against? Well I now have found a party that states a Christian view on marriage in its manifesto. It is the English Democrats. They are not racist, nor homophobic and they stand for English values and traditions.
Their manifesto states; It is often overlooked that our society is founded on the institutions of marriage and family life. The family is the place where cultural and moral values are most successfully passed from one generation to the next. We favour the promotion of marital families, consisting of mother, father and children, as the preferred building block of our society.
I joined them a month ago and am now standing for them as a candidate. So now you can vote with God, for your faith. At their next annual conference (September) I am putting forward a motion that recognises Christianity as the religion of England. Now that would be another step forward. You can visit them at: