This is a copy of my church magazine article for February 2011
‘What are the top six reasons Christians don’t get involved in politics?’
That was the question posed by Andy Flannagan, Director of the Christian Socialist Movement, at the recent Mainstream conference that I attended. These are the answers he gave with which, I suspect, we would also agree. I’ve also added a very brief response to each question, which begins to answer why Christians should be involved.
1. ‘Politics is dirty.’ The recent and ongoing MP’s expenses scandals would certainly suggest that to be the case. Yet not all of politics is corrupt, and anyway, the darkest places need light the most.
2. ‘What’s the point? We’re doing other good things.’ Yet politics can bring change for the better, and offer more choices to people over their lives.
3. ‘Politics is not a priority. We should spend our time ‘saving souls for heaven’.’ Yet we pray, ‘Your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as in heaven.’
4. ‘Jesus was servant, not a Caesar.’ Yet following Jesus does not mean you can’t be a politician, it just makes you a different kind of politician.
5. ‘I am involved in politics, just not party politics.’ It may be that you have not found a party that embodies all of your views, but that is true of churches as well. We learn through relationship and may influence one another within a political party or church!
6. ‘I don’t know how to get involved.’ If you have internet access, check out www.susa.info for all sorts of information, including links to the various Christian wings of our main political parties. You can even answer a fun questionnaire to see who would be in your cabinet if you led the nation!
You may be interested to know that I asked a question of Andy! ‘Is it all right for clergy to reveal their political leanings to their congregations? And should they seek to influence their churches in their own chosen direction?’ In a typical piece of political-speak, we might think, the answer was that mine was a very good question, and that clergy cannot help influencing their congregations from the pulpit, even if not revealing their political affiliations. So there you go!
I’m glad that we have Bella Saltmarsh in our congregation. Bella is a local councillor and deputy-mayor for Peterborough. Do pray for her! Yet I think it would be good for more of us to be involved in politics. After all, Jesus tells us that we are the salt of the earth and the light of the world, bringing flavour and shining into a dark world (Matthew 5:13-16).
How is God calling you to be involved? How is God calling me?