*** DEBUG END ***

‘Are we asking our politicians for what is truly just?’

01 May 2015

Appeals to self-interest have drowned out bigger concerns, suggests Lorraine Cavanagh

ONLY the Green Party majors in its manifesto on the idea of the common good, even if the connections it makes - or fails to make - between the common good and climate change are somewhat tenuous.

This does not help to assuage the collective unease that comes from not knowing what to think about politics in general and, more specifically, about climate change, and the conflicts that exacerbate it.

Climate change and defence are bound up in a single, but complex, moral imperative. Much of our unease derives from the fear and uncertainty generated by the turmoil in Eastern Europe, Africa, and the Middle East. No one party can, or should, proffer an instant solution on how to best defend ourselves against President Putin, or support our vulnerable distant neighbours in the face of barbarism and religious persecution.

Nevertheless, defence and its environmental repercussions ultimately define what we ask of our politicians. The difficulty lies in knowing what it is that we really expect of them, and whether we ask and expect what is truly just, and therefore makes for peace and stability.

So far, defence and foreign policy have not figured prominently among the questions put to leaders in public debates. The priorities set by most party manifestos suggest that health-care, housing, and maintaining a far higher standard of living than is even imaginable to those who live in conflict zones is what will ultimately decide the individual vote.

But these narrow and perhaps selfish priorities only serve to exacerbate a prevailing sense of political uncertainty. We are afraid for our pocket books, and many of us feel uneasy and a little guilty about this fear. We expect the next government, however it is composed, to square these two negative emotions for us.

But are such limited expectations, along with such a timid view of our collective life, worthy of us as human beings?

The Churches and other faith communities can help to reverse the kind of negative mindset which is both a cause and a symptom of the current political uncertainty. Together, they can speak of a just and merciful God who is outside the machine of self-interested politics, and who sets, in the most profound sense, the precedents by which his people should be governed.

We should test the policies of our preferred party or politician against these precedents. We should then take the trouble to vote for them on 7 May.

The Revd Lorraine Cavanagh is an Anglican priest in the Church in Wales. She blogs at http://jobbingtheologian.blogspot.co.uk; Twitter: @LorraineCavana2

Browse Church and Charity jobs on the Church Times jobsite

Letters to the editor

Letters for publication should be sent to letters@churchtimes.co.uk.

Letters should be exclusive to the Church Times, and include a full postal address. Your name and address will appear below your letter unless requested otherwise.

Forthcoming Events

Green Church Awards

Awards Ceremony: 6 September 2024

Read more details about the awards


Festival of Preaching

15-17 September 2024

The festival moves to Cambridge along with a sparkling selection of expert speakers

tickets available


Inspiration: The Influences That Have Shaped My Life

September - November 2024

St Martin in the Fields Autumn Lecture Series 2024

tickets available



Festival of Faith and Literature

28 February - 2 March 2025

The festival programme is soon to be announced sign up to our newsletter to stay informed about all festival news.

Festival website


Visit our Events page for upcoming and past events 

The Church Times Archive

Read reports from issues stretching back to 1863, search for your parish or see if any of the clergy you know get a mention.

FREE for Church Times subscribers.

Explore the archive

Welcome to the Church Times


To explore the Church Times website fully, please sign in or subscribe.

Non-subscribers can read four articles for free each month. (You will need to register.)