Let's talk about... Something else?

As those who spend their lives trying to do God and do politics will know, it is often an uncomfortable place to be. It makes you doubly unpopular at dinner parties, for a start...

 

 

If faith and politics are mentioned in the same sentence, it is inevitably in the context of questions about sexuality or abortion, not economic policy or housing or health care.

There is a somewhat one-dimensional view of religion which exists in the media, in which Christian concerns about social issues are limited to stereotypically strong opinions about other people’s sex lives. It's that fallacy which won large swathes of the evangelical vote in America over to Donald Trump last year. His strong ‘Christian’ pro-life rhetoric proved popular, with few if any of his conservative evangelical supporters questioning how those same biblical values could possibly justify building walls, withdrawing foreign aid or overturning legislation on climate change.

If we take seriously the idea that Christians are to be concerned with the dignity of human life, it has to reach beyond the thorny issues of abortion and euthanasia and into every aspect of life. A just economy, fair taxation and the right to decent working conditions are all manifestations of this. Environmental policy and action on climate change, for example, reflect the desire to protect and enjoy the goodness of creation

The dignity of other human beings is central to much of what I hold dear, both as a Christian and as a Labour Party activist. ‘Solidarity, tolerance and respect’ are some of the key tenets written on the back of the party membership card I carry around in my purse. Pope John Paul II said that ‘solidarity is undoubtedly a Christian virtue’, which for me makes my politics and my faith entirely compatible, if challenging at times.

The media’s fascination with Tim Farron’s views on marriage and sexuality is inevitable and, to some extent, understandable. But I’d like to see them question politicians equally strongly about if and how their personal faith has had an impact on other aspects of their policy. Faith is something which influences the totality of someone’s political beliefs and their worldview, not just something which shapes their specific policy on a narrow selection of issues. It’s an all or nothing thing. The range of policy issues that professing faith leads to interrogation on should also be all or nothing, complete or not at all.

 

 

 


 

For further reading, see the Centre for Religious Literacy in Journalism: http://www.lapidomedia.com and the Sandford St Martin Trust: http://sandfordawards.org.uk

Please note Christians on the Left have no association with Lapido Media, who are an independent media charity, or or the Sandford St Martin Trust who promote excellence in Religious Programming.

Although not currently available, Harvard University previously ran an online course in religious literacy, and the introductory video can be viewed below.

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