Thursday, July 29, 2010

How to vote Christianly

As I said on the day of the previous Australian federal election, to vote Christianly is to vote for others, and John Dickson has written an excellent piece in the SMH making that point in more detail. Here is a taste:
"Christians should be willing to change voting patterns after Christian reflection on particular policies. A believer who cannot imagine voting for the 'other side' has either determined that only one party aligns with the will of God or, more likely, is more attached to their cultural context than to the wisdom of Scripture.

"Voting patterns, of believers or otherwise, are sometimes based on little more than family heritage or geography. This is unreflective and sub-Christian.

"Equally inadequate is voting for a candidate simply because he or she is a Christian. This is religious favouritism. Having Christians in Parliament is no guarantee - or even indicator - that our nation will be marked by peace, justice, compassion and truth."
Though I do think that Dickson missed two points well worth making. First, Christians will never be content with considerations that stop with national interests. Nationalism is a tragic attenuation of political focus incompatible with the global effects of our actions and the unrestrained extent of Jesus' commands to love our neighbour and our enemy.

Second, the present context demands a serious consideration of the inclusion of the ecological neighbour, both human and otherwise (that is, we are to consider the likely effects of different policies on other humans via their effects on natural ecosystems and the likely effects on those ecosystems in their own right).
H/T Matt Moffitt. Image by Andrew Filmer. The SMH also has a Vote-a-matic tool to help compare policies of the major parties.

Before the last NSW state election in 2007, I also wrote a post about voting Christianly


Andrew said...

I though that perspective on the Scottish Parliament looked familiar. Yes, good point about Dickson's unproblematic use of 'national interest'.

byron smith said...

Hope you don't mind that I used your image (I should have asked first...)! I was just looking for a good shot of a parliament building that I hadn't already used before (that last one was amongst my first posts on politics and I squandered two serviceable parliamentary shots on it. I've since had to economise. Not sure I can afford to post much more on politics until I either visit DC or Canberra...).

Andrew said...

Not at all!

Meredith said...

Being unable to vote for 'the other side' might not mean the voter embraces 'their' side as the side of God.

It might just mean that they consider voting for 'the other side,' and thus endorsing its philosophy, as incompatible with how they understand loving their neighbours.

That position still leaves the voter with a decision to make between two parties - neither of whom may be 'the side of God.'

Meredith said...

... because, after all, there are three parties to choose from - in some electorates, more.

byron smith said...

Yes, this was indeed another issue with the article. Or rather, two issues. First, the language of "the other side" simply reinforces two party politics, which is neither the intention nor the (complete) reality of our system. Second, it would have been better to have put that point positively, "A believer who cannot imaging not voting for a particular party has either determined that only party aligns with the will of God or, more likely, is more attached to their cultural context than the wisdom of Scripture."