Friday, 22 November 2013

Is Christianity political?

Whichever political party you consider, you will proberbly find that a number of its members are religious, maybe even Christain (unless it is some kind of anti-religious party inwhich case you are unlikely to find any religious members other than undercover agents) but anyway, it seems to be a common part of many people's political identity.

In the UK, we have different Christian factions within the major parties, and a self-proclaimed anglican prime minister, however, thankfully, one's ability to progress in UK politics is not reliant on one's religious affiliation, and we see a beautiful spectrum of faiths and non being present in both houses of parliament and within regional and local levels of governemnt.

As a 2nd year A- level politics student, I have been studying U.S politics and, what seems clear is that there is a stronger emphasis on religion in these political circumstances - there has never been an a president, for example, who is not a member of one kind or another of Christian denomination - an atheist president, therefore, seems quite an unlikely phenomenom.

In the UK we like to think that our own religious/non-religious background is welcomed into the political arena , cherished in the hope that they will enable the government and the surrounding people of delegated influence to better reflect an accurate representation of the British people whom they serve.

Coming from a Christian perspective, and having grown up in an evangelical wing of the Church which encourages a faith which 'directs' everypart of one's lifestyle, I have thus seen many Christians who have been engaged in politics, to the mostpart on a local level, inwhich they claim that their activities, including their party affiliation, voting behaviour and political commentary is based upon their faith. For example, I recently spoke to a socialist who believed in her cause because "Jesus was a socialist", and I heard a sermon by a local councillor who claimed that "the conservatives are the only party who arn't making a mockery of the Bible".

Yet, when I look back to the gospel accounts of Jesus, or read the old testment commands for Israel, or read through the pastorals and epistles, I don't see the word 'socialism' or 'liberalsim' or 'conservatism' anywhere. All I see is the life of a man who lived in the service of others, in such a radical way that he seems so far beyond any of the political manifestos suggestions for change.

Now, I'm not advocating political apathy in any way! I'm a member of a political party and campaign on various issues in collaberation with various pressure groups, yet I didn't choose my party because I thought that it was the one that God was most likely to 'agree with'.

Infact, I have no idea what party Jesus would join - if any !

What I think is important to emphasise is that we do not recieve any political guidance from the Bible in the sense that it leads us to the doorstep of either red, blue, yellow, purple, rainbow coloured etc. If we must, we should choose a party which we think best reflects our feelings and opinions on every relevent area. Furthermore, it worries me that certain religious politicians insist that they approach politics with the view of bringing "biblical principles" to the UK decision making processes.

Its time to understand, evangelicals, that the UK is no longer a Christian country (thankfully in my opinion). We have no right to impose on people of other creeds our own doctrines, or, for that matter, a one winged political pressure on fellow believers! The Bible was written in a time where our modern political ideologies would be alien, our modern day ethics unrelatable.

Surely, a better approach to our faith aswell as our politics is one of open-mindedness and humility. Lets value everyone and everyone's ideas, each bringing to the table a slice of our own cake so that, at the end, we can have a lovely, diverse tea party of co-existence and representation - that is how faith and politics, in my opinion, should mix.

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