A general election that we were promised wouldn’t happen is only a few days away. But with broken promises from politicians of all kinds, an uncertain economy and a seriously weakened political opposition, what does the general election mean for Christians?
Politicians come even lower down the popularity ratings than journalists. Last December’s Ipsos Mori veracity index showed, while 91 per cent of Britons trusted nurses, only 15 per cent trusted politicians. Even journalists achieved 24 per cent, several points above those whose decisions and expenses they are called upon to monitor.
If pollsters are to be considered correct — and they were wrong about the 2015 general election, Brexit and Donald J. Trump — then we can expect a much increased Conservative majority in the House of Commons, as we head into Britain’s Brexit negotiations with Europe.
But polls are not everything. We have seen a rising tide of populism across the Western world fuelled by nationalism, a perception that hard work is not being rewarded and a feeling that the average citizen is no longer empowered to shape his or her own destiny. Scottish nationalism could further divide a nation needing to be held together — perhaps now more than at any other time in recent history.
While Christians are torn by a desire to make their vote count and a feeling that there is nobody out there to represent them in a crisis (it was Theresa May, after all, who as former Home Secretary introduced the proposed Counter-Extremism bill that threatens Christian liberties), organisations are urging believers to head to the polls prayerfully.
The Evangelical Alliance (EA) has called on all Christians to engage fully in the election. Steve Clifford, general director of the EA, said: ‘As unexpected as this election may be, it provides a chance for Christians to take part in debating the future of our society.
‘This is a chance for us to speak hope into a society that is so often searching for meaning. Between now and 8 June, we can consider what the political parties are proposing and what vision they are offering for our society’.
Resources to help
The Christian Institute, Christian Concern, EA, CARE and others have released resources to help churches size up election issues. Mr Clifford added it was up to Christians to challenge their candidates to promote a more loving, free and just society, regardless of who gets into power afterwards.
He explained: ‘Elections are always going to involve disagreement, but there must be a better way than the way we have done politics in recent years. This election is a chance for Christians to have a say in the kind of society we want to see for future generations’.
Christians of all parties also called for unified prayer and gentleness among believers, in the light of Brexit — and, especially, of Paul’s first letter to Timothy (2:1-5), where he exhorts: ‘First of all, then, I urge supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way’.
‘This election is an important contest between different visions for our society’, says Stephen Beer, political communications officer for Christians on the Left. ‘The country needs a socially just Brexit, which works for everyone’. The Conservative Christian Fellowship reminds voters to ‘disagree well’, given that we all ultimately serve God, not man. Gareth Wallace, CCF executive director, comments, ‘We are team players in our own individual tribes. But as Christians we owe our primary allegiance to a higher King’.
Paul’s encouragement to prayer is not just for social justice, peacefulness and dignity; it is also so that the gospel can continue to be spread, for God ‘desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth’ (1 Timothy 2:4).