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Christian voting dilemmas

The election campaigns roll on. The party manifestos are all out and the television debates broadcast. So what do they tell us? What are the values that will determine your vote and mine? I have the privilege as Premier’s Political Editor to knowing some of the former Christian MPs, now candidates. They are members of different parties, each emphasising different priorities, so how do I choose for whom to cast my vote? How will you do it? The easy answer is to vote for the same person or party as last time but is that lazy? Haven’t circumstances changed?

One answer is to identify the issues that matter most to you and check out what each of the parties are saying about them. The party manifestos are all accessible on the internet so the only cost is your time. This isn’t a solution if the issue that matters most to you is not addressed in any of the manifestos. Nor does it help if the one party that shares your concerns also advocates policies you don’t like. I suspect many concerned about the environment might have this problem. The Green Party is big on this issue but its other policies might not appeal to you. If you are unhappy about the same-sex marriage legislation and don’t want to support the parties that backed it UKIP is your only option but that won’t help if you disagree with them on EU membership or immigration.

How far does one’s faith provide guidance? With Jesus’ priority on loving God and one’s neighbours we could ask which party is most committed to freedom of belief and conscience. What place do neighbourliness, voluntary service and personal responsibility feature in each party’s welfare policies? What overarching social vision holds together the string of policies proposed by them? Do they have credible policies about caring for the poor and vulnerable or do they merely pay lip service to equality?

We can also ask ourselves whether our expectations of Government are entirely realistic. The NHS is a big issue in this election but which politician is suggesting that the first step in mending the service is everyone adopting a healthy lifestyle? If they are calling for more doctors and nurses are they ready to allocate the funds to train them. It takes at least five years to train a doctor and recruiting foreign doctors is a quicker fix but what does that do to the country from which we poach them? Another health service problem is the number of frail elderly people stuck in hospital beds because there is no adequate care for them in the community. Could the churches do more to ease the problem by offering volunteer support for elderly people in their communities? Street pastors are a great initiative, why not a geriatric equivalent, loving our elderly neighbours in their homes?

Choosing who governs us is a big responsibility and some soul searching is inevitable, which makes it essential to free up quality time for prayer.

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