issues missing in action


Just as we all suspected, the election campaign has largely been about one thing: what are we going to do about the deficit? The battle has been fierce and yesterday it all started to get quite personal. And in the midst of such conflict, some issues seem to have been ‘missing in action’. For sure immigration has been given a good airing along with some discussion of the best way to support families. Transport policy had its moment in the sun thanks to a drifting cloud of volcanic ash and defence policy featured due to the second leaders’ debate. The discussion around political reform seems to have only been driven by speculation about the result. But what about the others? The environment has suffered badly despite the Greens being in contention for the first time in a Westminster election. Civil liberties have hardly been mentioned whilst religious liberties (an important stream within) has all but been ignored outside of church-based hustings and Christian media outlets. And perhaps less surprisingly, overseas aid has not featured at all. It seems we’re only concerned about suffering abroad when we’re nowhere near a polling booth. As the campaigns wind up (or is that down) to their conclusion, the focus has become narrower with claims and counterclaims about cuts. Is negative campaigning winning out over positive persuasion? No doubt there will be lots of analysis to come, which were the issues that decided the day etc. I think the engagement from the Christian sector has been a mixed bag, scaremongering isn’t purely the domain of the unbeliever. But I have sensed greater overall involvement from the Christian public than ever before and the desire to get personally connected has been really, really encouraging. I think we could see growing numbers of Christians seeing politics as their vocation in the years to come. Recent days have demonstrated that it’s not always a comfortable place to be and vitriolic attacks are weapons deployed by dark forces. When it comes to winning battles it’s all about people in the right places at the right time. For too long in the 20th century, the church was missing in action. May the 21st be a very different battleground scenario.

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2 thoughts on “issues missing in action

  1. Gareth,
    I hope we do see increasing numbers of folk seeing politics as a vocation, but my view is that the big challenge is persuading the whole church to see political issues (such as planning, the environment, education etc) as being important to them. We have always had to differing degrees individuals who see politics as a worthy vocation. What would make a real difference would be if we saw their agenda as not being an aberration or a novelty, but we gave them evidence that we were following along and participating in their wake. The scandals of recent decades and the century or so before (that did not get into the papers) may not have happened if we gave the political processes and particpants a bit more attention and company and did not leave them to become seperate and ‘professional decision takers’ rather than people really acting on our behalf.

    1. Ian- yes you’ve put your finger on the key issue- unless the church takes political engagement seriously as sphere for Christian influence then we will see those individuals who do get involved left isolated, on the sidelines. We need to see them profiled in our meetings, explaining what it looks like and feels like to be involved and encouraging us all to take our place in accordance with our God-given giftings and personalities.

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