WHEN my MP called me "a Communist" (at least partly in jest), it
immediately made me think of the words of the Brazilian Archbishop
Dom Helder Camara: "When I give food to the poor, they call me a
saint. When I ask why the poor have no food, they call me a
The Church of England has a tendency to tiptoe around politics,
preferring the approach of diplomacy over face-to-face
confrontation. When we do speak out against a government, we are
met with full attack mode, which usually starts
by telling us to keep out of politics, while simultaneously
keeping Bishops in the House of Lords.
I understand that some of the Bishops in the House of Lords
don't vote in elections, because they see their role in terms of
political neutrality. As a woman, I struggle with that approach,
knowing that women died so that I could have a vote.
And the word "neutral" is too uncomfortably close to "neutered"
for my liking.
The recent controversy over the Bishops' pastoral letter baffled
me. The letter felt like written instructions for a very
complicated dance that circled round every issue but landed on too
few of them. And, after all that diplomacy, there was still a
cartoon of the bishops singing "The Red Flag", and the Greens were
joyfully claiming a victory.
The Magnificat is sometimes called the Christian manifesto: "He
has brought down the powerful from their thrones, and lifted up the
lowly; he has filled the hungry with good things, and sent the rich
empty away" (Luke 2.52-53). These are hardly neutral words.
I struggle with the reality that we are more fixated on money
and buildings than on the teaching of Jesus; that we can campaign
about foodbanks but accept millions for cathedral roofs from a
Government which made the decisions that caused the poverty and
hunger. There is a place for righteous anger in the Church but we
seem to have let the fire go out.
We are called to be prophets, prepared to risk everything in the
fight for justice, and on behalf of the weakest and most vulnerable
members of our society.
As the General Election approaches, we need to get angry, vocal,
and prophetic. This is not an optional event that we can allow to
pass by as we concentrate on choosing hymns for Sunday services; we
need to be reading our Bibles, joining up our faith with our
politics, and voting for the greater good - because "whatever you
did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for
The Revd Eva McIntyre is Vicar of Stourport and Wilden in
the diocese of Worcester.