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Rector’s Reflections    Friday 21st June 2024

How Should a Christian Vote?

To date, we have looked at three questions which we may wish to ask ourselves as we consider how we are to cast our vote in the forthcoming General Election. We might wish to ask:  how will my vote contribute to the well-being of society as a whole?  Such a  question helps us to think beyond the limits of our own selfishness.  We might also wish to ask ourselves: how will my vote benefit the most vulnerable in our society? This in turn leads into a third question:  how will my vote promote care for the Environment, and help to address the challenges presented by Climate Change?  Care for the Environment and care for the most vulnerable are closely linked, as it is the poorest and least powerful who suffer the most from the degradation of the Environment and the extreme weather events which are much more likely to occur as a result of Global Warming.

 

This in turn leads into the fourth question which we might wish to ask ourselves, and those who are standing for election.  Issues relating to the Environment and to Climate Change more generally are obviously not limited to the United Kingdom.  We live in a globalized world, and actions taken in our own country can have a significant effect on other parts of the world, just as decisions taken by foreign governments can have a significant effect on life in the UK.  The reality of our living in a globalized world also becomes apparent when we think of the economic life of our country and issues relating to the movement of people across National borders.

So we may well wish to ask ourselves:  what sort of relationship do I wish the UK  to have with the rest of the World?   How will my vote contribute to my own vision of the UK’s place in the world? People hold very different views of  the UK’s  place in the world. Some have a vision of UK as a global leader in terms of economic, political or military power.  Others see such a vision as little more than an exercise in nostalgia, and would promote  a vision which embraced a less high-profile for our country,  but a role which was significant and useful, none the less.  Some seek to discover and celebrate distinctively “British” values, and develop a strong and focussed sense of  patriotism; others tend to be more international in outlook. And  of course we are well aware that there are a variety of opinions as to the ideal relationship between the UK and our neighbours on the Continent of Europe; there are also plenty of debates to be had concerning the relationships between the nations and countries which  make up the British Isles. 

 

It is worth reminding ourselves- if a reminder is needed- that the question of the UK’s place in the world actually begs another question: what is our vision for the UK itself?  Are we happy with the current Constitutional arrangements?  Should the constituent parts of the UK be given more independence?  Is our constant reference to “the United Kingdom” nothing more than a polite curtesy, which hides the reality of the fact that real power lies in the hands of the voters of England and of the English politicians who work at Westminster? 

 

The question also leads on to a further question. Does the UK  owe any responsibilities towards other countries in the world?  Do we continue to have responsibilities towards former colonies? Is there a moral case for giving preferential treatment to fellow members of the Commonwealth? We are not the first generation to ask questions about the nature of the political relationship between the constituent countries and nations which make up the British Isles. Nor are we the first generation to ask questions about our place in the world, and our relationship with countries around the world which have particular ties to the United Kingdom for reasons of history, economics or culture. But I wonder: are we the first generation which is in danger of not taking such questions seriously enough? The Bible reminds us that God has a vision of blessing for every nation of the world.  Christians cannot conduct their lives on the assumption that there is only one country which matters to God, and that’s their own. Every country matters. Every nation matters.

 

So there we are – four questions which we may wish to think about as we consider who we will vote for in the forthcoming General Election.   There are many other questions which we may wish to be asking ourselves, but  the four questions which I have suggested  touch on some of the  important issues  which we are currently facing as a country.  They will give us plenty to think about- and plenty to discuss with our fellow Christians. Christians are anything but monochrome in their political opinions.  And I for one give thanks to God for this diversity of views. A diversity of views is a sign of a healthy democracy, and a healthy democracy is of benefit to everyone.

 

 

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