June 2017

They say politics and religion don’t mix, but that’s not true. I think traditionally the idea that your (essentially private) faith might influence your (essentially public) political intentions is what people have a problem with. It implies that there might be a “right” (as in correct!) way to vote, and if you don’t vote in that way then perhaps you aren’t a proper Christian…
But who decides what is the correct way for Christians to vote? Of course, no one does. But you might like to reflect on how your faith impacts on your politics. Have you prayed about this election? If not, I hope it isn’t too late for you to start. (You will, I hope, also pray for the new government whether or not it is the one you wanted!) Have you prayed about who you will vote for? For all the candidates in this constituency? What about praying that the candidates will know and understand the needs of the country? And also that the voices of those most in need, the most difficult voices to hear, will be heard? If nothing else, I hope you can take the opportunity that the election gives us to pray for our country, to give thanks for our democratic institutions and to hold our common future before God.
If you search on Google for “Archbishops highlight the place of faith in British life” you’ll find a three page letter that the Archbishops of Canterbury and York have written about the election. Here are some of the main points, as reported on the Church of England website:

Archbishops Justin Welby and John Sentamu urge people to set aside "apathy and cynicism" and draw new inspiration from the ancient Christian virtues of "love, trust and hope".
Following divisions of recent years, it calls for reconciliation drawing on shared British values based on cohesion, courage and stability.
At a time when political differences may be felt more intensely than ever, the Archbishops insist that Christians' "first obligation" during the election and beyond is to pray for those standing for office and recognise the personal costs and burdens carried by those in political life and by their families.
But Christians also have a duty to play an active part in the process, they add.
"This election is being contested against the backdrop of deep and profound questions of identity," they say.
They call for a generous and hospitable welcome to refugees and migrants but also warn against being "deaf to the legitimate concerns" about the scale of migration into some communities.
Faith, they argue, has a unique role to play in preventing extremism and religiously motivated violence.

In an interview with The Guardian ex-Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, said:

There was a danger of “executive power emerging independently of the rule of law … in other words, an erosion of real accountability in public life”.
In the UK, next month’s election was a “very difficult moment, not least because a lot of traditional party loyalties are up for grabs”, he said. “There is lots of peering into lots of abysses at the moment.”
The focus on Brexit was “taking our eyes off the ball in some other areas. What we need is a systematic programme of prevention. We look at how much money we need to throw at a problem to solve it, rather than in the longer term what we need to invest to stop these problems arising.”
Among the issues Williams cited as not being properly addressed were penal policy, homelessness and “alienation that leads to poor performance among children and young people”.
He said: “There is innate short-termism in our political language … We need to build as broad a consensus that we can on long-term issues [rather than] party political issues for this election. If we don’t, the spring coils tighter and tighter.”

There is much there that we can use to pray with. As this election reaches its conclusion and a new government begins to take shape let our prayers for our nation be as important as our vote.

Holy Trinity, Prestwood is an Inclusive Church. We are part of the Church of England.
We are in the Oxford diocese and the Wendover Deanery.

The Parochial Church Council of the Ecclesiastical Parish of Holy Trinity, Prestwood is a registered charity, no. 1129233.

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