Saturday, 24 July 2010

Orthodox political thought

In the last week I have had a bundle of political information but only two direct requests to make 'information' available to the people of our church community.
Now, the Anglican Church (despite often being otherwise characterised ) is not politically homogenous. It has often been characterised as "the Tory Party at Prayer"...or sometimes more whimsically (referring to the Anglo Catholic section with which I identify) as "The Communist Party at Mass"!
The reality is that we are theologically, socially and, most certainly, politically a heterodox community. It's often observed that our one defining characteristic is that we are all totally different...and we respect each other's right to be so.
This doesn't always make for easy living, but it does make life interesting.
So at times of election I try to be careful to not promote the line of one particular party, though many people would know and/or guess that I lean to the left.
The two requests to make the policies of particular parties known have actually come from other religious groups. One from an agency which promotes Christian Pastoral support Workers (formerly called chaplains) in state schools. Their advice is about the one issue of funding. Though they also urge people to write to their local member (of any persuasion) about the issue. This latter action seems to me perfectly reasonable. What is not reasonable is to be seen to be promoting one or other party in particular.
Given, also, what I note above...that Anglicans cherish would be a mistake to make the assumption that we are all particularly sympathetic and think the same way.
The second solicitation comes from a party which clearly identifies itself as a Christian Party-even though when it suits them electorally they back away from that association, though it is clear that Family First seeks to draw support from mainly conservative evangelical churches.
Such churches probably do not tolerate theological diversity in the way that the Anglican Church does!
It would seem that they also have a fairly narrow conservative political agenda. I don't have any particular problem with people being conservative. What I do object to is the use of descriptors that seem to claim there is only one Christian viewpoint.
Thus when they put out a Christian Values Checklist (see here for similar information) it is for me some what problematic.
Of the 15 points on this particular document, which seems remarkably like the document put out for the recent State election...even though it claims to relate specifically to the Federal parliament..I don't have problems with some (possibly 6 of the 15....) but I would take exception to the bland statement that some points clearly represent "Christian values"
Item 3 for example : Support parental choice of schooling with education vouchers is clearly not a specifically Christian value at all
Of more concern are those matters where I actually think the value is not Christian at all
Item 4 'Protect marriage' (quite happy with that...but it goes on) 'oppose Relationship Registers for same-sex couples'
To my mind this flies in the face of the freedom that God gives to us in the Gospel. I don't dispute that many Christian, perhaps even most won't agree with me. But while I want to protect marriage I don't think that opposing same-sex marriage is the key strategy. What about providing adequate childcare, support for new parents etc. etc?
In fact I want society to stop acting prejudicially against people simply because they are gay. Where is that Christian value.
Item11 also want to prevent same-sex couples from having access to IVF and adoption
There is an agenda here. But to my mind it is not a Christian agenda. It is an anti-gay agenda, and I find no Christian value on this 'checklist' about protecting gay people from discrimination.
Quite the reverse. Items 12 & 13 promote narrow religious privilege with regard to vilification laws and anti-discrimination legislation....that is they want religious groups to have the right to be intolerant and discriminatory in a way that no other sector of society can be allowed to be so. I just think this sort of narrow seeking of privilege is so against the spirit of Paul's teaching about being responsible citizens that it is shocking.
So, I won't be issuing their narrow political advice in the name of "Christian Values"

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Excellent item.