Well my self-imposed ban on blogging can now be lifted. Today is election day.
I’ve spent the last 4 weeks trying hard not to get embroiled in the political back-biting and partisan name calling that our favourite social-networking sites have descended into as election fever has swept the nation.
Please don’t get me wrong I know politics is a passionate subject for many of us. I am not ambivalent to this – I have strong and sincerely held views. I have a party-political preference that I am more likely to vote than any other – although I hope not one I would blindly vote for just out of some sort of allegiance!
Politics is an essential part of life and I believe that Christians are called to be politically minded. BUT I think there is a marked difference between being motivated to talk about our faith & politics and going down the party lines.
When I see priests and Bishops making unpleasant comments about parties other than the one they support it causes issues for me because in their support of a particular party they will alienate those who hold different views.
There is also a question in my mind of the abuse of the position of a spiritual leader. When we have been given a position of leadership we are called to be extra-careful about the messages we preach – both in and out of the pulpit.
When we preach politically partisan messages we are in danger giving the impression that our particular party preference is the ‘only’ acceptable way for a Christian to vote.
Yet not one of our main political parties can be said to be wholly representative of Christians.
When I was first a Christian I was appalled to here a preacher tell our congregation in Dorset that it was impossible to be a believer and vote anything other than Labour. This is an outrage, wholly untrue and an abuse of the position as a preacher.
I have close friend who is now a vicar but prior to ordination stood as a Conservative candidate in the 2001 election. He felt strongly that once he was selected to the CofE that he should resign the party, which he did. This does not make him a-political but means he does not carry a card into sermons and debates on political issues.
We all in Church leadership, even floating voters have vague party bias’s but it is our duty not to allow those to govern how we preach, how we discuss political matters etc. We are in a privileged position as people who God as put in a place where we could influence others without too much difficulty. We need to be sure that we are not using that position for anything other than the furthering of HIS Kingdom.