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‘Are we prepared to vote for neighbours who don’t look like us?’

01 May 2015

The truly Christian vote should be cast on behalf of others, argues Anna Drew


GIVEN that those who go to church are statistically more likely to vote than those who don't, it's hardly surprising that the political parties have been working hard to woo "the Christian vote".

Some of these attempts have been more shameless than others. Miliband, Farage, & Co spoke passionately to the National Churches Trust about their favourite places of worship, while Cameron declared to one of the largest gatherings of UK Christians: "I look out to this crowd, and I see someone who will take my role and become Prime Minister for this great country" (News, 24 April).

Dodgy Easter messages, parish visits, and "I'm one of you, really" rhetoric aside, what does a "Christian" vote actually look like?

Some would claim that there's a straightforward answer: a Christian vote is a vote for religious freedom (for Christians, at least); for marriage, and traditional family values. It's a vote against abortion, euthanasia, and gay rights. Some pressure groups at least would say that a Christian vote is still more to do with what people do with their private parts than what they do with their hearts.

But what if the Christian vote was not a question of issues as such, but one of priorities?

In previous months, national Church leaders have urged us to vote, not with our personal priorities in mind, but with an eye to the interests of our neighbours.

Our neighbours might not look like us. They might not talk, act, or think like us. They might be the kind of Christians with whom we disagree. They might be Muslims, humanists, or atheists; gay, bisexual, or transgender. Perhaps our neighbours are awkward, difficult, or unpleasant people.

Whatever the Bible may have to say about the key issues that some Christians are highlighting ahead of the election, it is absolutely unequivocal on God's priorities: "bringing good news to the oppressed, binding up the broken-hearted, proclaiming liberty to captives, release to prisoners, comfort to those who mourn" (Isaiah 61.1).

Whoever they are, whatever they do or believe, our neighbours might be hungry. They might be struggling to pay their rent, or to find a good education for their children. They might feel that their voice is drowned out in the crowd, that no one really gives a damn about their existence.

This election time, how closely do our priorities really match up with God's?

Anna Drew is an Anglican blogger, broadcaster, and press officer.

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