A good question: how should Christians vote?

By Jill Segger
May 6, 2015

Many of us inherit our politics and our religion. For that reason, both require examination and re-evaluation from time to time. It can be difficult to accept that familial and tribal loyalties may, if not subject to discernment, become barriers to truth, fidelity and justice.

The political scene now facing us has changed profoundly. The old duopoly is gone, coalition has become familiar, smaller parties are making significant inroads into once safe seats and post-referendum Scotland is the new electoral kid on the Westminster block. The signs of the times challenge us to scrutinise long-held perceptions and question partisan reactions.

Austerity, division, inequality and xenophobia work their malign influence amidst the new plurality as increasingly insecure parties struggle for advantage in uncertain territory. The weakest, poorest, and most sick are bearing the burden in their bodies and minds; privilege has blinded many to their plight and unexamined assumptions deliver still more into acceptance of an agenda which has little to do with the way of Jesus.

How are we to understand that way in relation to contemporary politics? It is important to clear away any notion that it has anything to do with 'Englishness' or to permit it to become a proxy for Islamaphobia. It is a way which calls upon the powerful and rich to take care of the needs of the poor. It is a way which feeds the hungry, loves the outcast and the despised and defends the oppressed. It is a way of peace.

The system of governance in Roman occupied Palestine bears little resemblance to that of 21st century Britain. The moral and spiritual challenges posed by Jesus could only have been worked out as individual and personal interactions in a society where the concept of non-violent change through the structures of representative government and civil society were unknown.

Because we live in a democracy – however flawed it may be – we need to understand the application of that personal call to the contemporary mechanism of adversarial party politics, an unrepresentative voting system and to our own prejudices and preconceptions. Putting aside the comforts of confirmation bias and acknowledging that no one party can deliver our entire wish lists is essential. The idea of voting for the 'least worse' is not attractive, but it is perhaps, a step towards liberation.

Wherever we place our cross on 7 May will only be a beginning – a moment in a process. To believe that the life of Jesus manifested deliverance to the oppressed means there can be be no unexamined areas of habit, comfort or action, either now or in the future.

* Adapted with acknowledgement from the May issue of Reform Magazine http://www.reform-magazine.co.uk/
as part of the 'Good Question' series. http://www.reform-magazine.co.uk/2015/04/a-good-question-how-should-chri...

* Vote for what you believe in http://voteforwhatyoubelievein.org/about/

* More on the issues in the 2015 General Election from Ekklesia: http://www.ekklesia.co.uk/generalelection2015

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© Jill Segger is an Associate Director of Ekklesia with particular involvement in editorial issues. She is a freelance writer who contributes to the Church Times, Catholic Herald, Tribune, Reform and The Friend, among other publications. Jill is an active Quaker. See: http://www.journalistdirectory.com/journalist/TQig/Jill-Segger You can follow Jill on Twitter at: http://www.twitter.com/quakerpen

Although the views expressed in this article do not necessarily represent the views of Ekklesia, the article may reflect Ekklesia's values. If you use Ekklesia's news briefings please consider making a donation to sponsor Ekklesia's work here.