• Our friend Howie: The politics post

    Posted by Howie

    22 March, 2011

    Friend of Micah Challenge, Howie, got to thinking about Christians and politics and decided to write about it.

    From the outset of this post I would like to say that I'm no political junkie nor do 'I think I'm right and you're wrong' when it comes to politics. I know it sounds dumb but I guess it's been a journey for me.

    A couple of years ago I didn't really care at all about politics. I would read stuff on smh and watch the news and from that I decided if I liked or disliked a politician.

    So I thought I would try and answer some questions, I've tried to come up with a bunch of questions that I think are worth exploring.

    Stumbling through facebook (the one true source for views, emotions and photos of people drinking beer at parties) I find it interesting to see what people write on their profile under 'political views'. Some people are very exact in their views and say things like 'Labour party of Australia'. But on the whole, especially with Christians it typically says something like 'politics?????'.

    Partly I think it's a generational thing where politics just isn't on the radar. It's a boring bunch of suits and I'm more interested in friends, myself and drinking beer at parties.
 But I also think it's because politics doesn't play a part in church agendas, well apart from church politics which we all love and adore, especially when it involves debates on whether chairs in the hall should be in stacks of 7 or 8.

    On the whole current affairs only make an appearance for a few seconds in sermons as part of an illustration of how the world is falling apart or maybe a few dot points in a prayer by a minister after 26 dot points about the new building schedule and the woman's ministry movie night coming up next Wednesday.

Why should Christians care about politics?

    Basically I think Christians should care about politics because politicians and politics represent us as a nations, and they make decisions that not only affect us but also affect people all over the world, the poor the rich, Christians not Christians, everyone.

    Hey Jesus what is the most important thing we should do?
    'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.

    It is impossible to ignore the fact that politics plays a major role in how our neighbours are treated, it doesn't really make any difference in how you personally translate the word 'neighbour'. Whether it's Barry next door or Ajiju a young boy living in a slum in India. Politics plays a major role in how they are loved.

    Most people who care about politics care because they want to make sure their own life is not impacted in a perceived negative way. I think it's the role of Christians to make sure the lives of others are not impacted in a negative way.

    Shouldn't we be voting for Christian politicians and Christian parties?

    There are a whole bunch of Christians in Australian politics at all levels and across all parties. One point here I would like to make is that supporting and voting don't mean the same thing. Just because someone is a Christian doesn't mean they should automatically get your vote. You will have a whole bunch of Christian buddies and when you are standing around after church discussing where you are all going to go out for dinner you will notice that there is several different views and opinions but you are all hungry Christians.

    Well it's the same in politics a Christian politician may not represent the same views and opinions you have but you still support them. Support in this way can probably best be expressed with a letter. If you like the stance a particular politician is taking but disagree with another, you should write to the one you disagree with and tell them why, and the one you agree with you should write and tell them you agree.

    But the above should not just be for 'Christian' politicians but all politicians, because someone says they are a Christian this does not mean every decision and stance they make is a directive from God. Or that all non Christian politicians are making decisions and stances that are unbiblical and ungodly.

    We would all know of people who we see doing amazing things, whether it be working with disadvantaged people in your community or just a friendly neighbour who mows your front lawn when they are doing theirs. These people may not be Christians but they still manage to selflessly love and act on behalf of others.

    Now before you call me some kind of hippy heretic. These people are still missing out on the grace that only comes from Jesus, but what I am saying is that they should be supported regardless of if they are a follower of Christ or not. And not being a public follower of Christ shouldn't mean they lose your support.

    The same in politics, if I see a politician who is taking a stand on refugees or urban poverty that is why I would vote for them not because they are a public follower or not.

Should we align ourselves with a particular party?
Probably not! There is no political party that will fully represent all your ideals and values. So aligning yourself to a particular party is probably a bit dodgy if you don't approve of all their policies and standings.

    As Christians we should be seeking out the policies that align with our faith not policies that align with a particular party.
 Having said this I'm not sure how we achieve anything when we will probably find positive and negative policies across all parties at all levels. So this one is still a big work in progress.

    How can Christians be more involved?
- Education - We need to be up on current affairs and political movements. This is pretty easy, all you have to do is read newspapers, watch the news (preferably SBS and ABC). Education can also come from friends, agencies working in areas of concern and politicians themselves.
    - Reflection - Once we have education ourselves it's a good idea to reflect on what is going on, this maybe through your bible study group, personal devotional time,
    - Advocacy - This is where it starts to mean you have to get off your butts and actually do something. Advocacy is basically speaking on behalf of something, an issue, a person a cause.

    Proverbs 31:8 'Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of the of all who are destitute.

    This was written for a new king by his mum, reminding him to not let the power go to his head. To remember those who are weak. In ye olde days the King had all the power and could do whatever he wanted. In Australia it is us, the people, who have the power, we elect our leaders, we are free to question and approach our leadership. So Advocacy is a must and is our most powerful tool for change.

    Some helpful stuff to get you started is Micah Challenge, a campaign organisation committed to holding our leaders to account. They have letter writing guides, postcards, events and all you need really to help you get started.

    Howie is a long term Micah Challenge supporter and blogger. This post originally appeared on Howie's blog - www.thehowie.net.