I was trying – really trying – to avoid posting about the election.
But I find myself so distressed over all the political shenanigans over the past few weeks that I just can’t help myself.
I think elections are difficult for people like me, who care deeply about politics in the sense that we are passionate about what makes society just, fair, compassionate and stable – and also have a faith that we are still working out.
This means the intersection of faith and politics at times like these is just – quite horrible.
From a political perspective, I will never be able to join the ranks of the right-wing conservative Christians who could never vote for a party that supports gay marriage, for example. I can in all good conscience vote for gay marriage, mostly because I believe fundamentally that Christians are not here to impose their own moral views upon the rest of society. And also this issue certainly isn’t the litmus test for my faith – I think many Christians have a range of views on the issue, and I don’t think any view is a faith deal breaker. Not all Christians think the same way, and I like that. I know and respect many people with a wide range of views and I am happy to engage in dialogue about it – I think that’s right and healthy. But the issues that are important to me as a believer are asylum seekers, indigenous rights, caring for the poor and the environment, corporate greed, and eradicating global poverty.
However, I seem to be in the minority, which is why elections are often difficult from a faith perspective. When churches or organisations start telling people how they should vote based on faith, I think they’ve completely overstepped the mark. When faith leaders start issuing proclamations on what Christians should think about issues, they’re in tricky territory. By all means encourage Christians to think prayerfully and with consideration over whom to vote for – but be aware that once you make a particular view a prerequisite for faith – well, then be prepared for people who don’t share those views to walk away.
I hate what has happened in this election. I hate that the issue of asylum seekers is being used in such an abominable way. I hate that my vote will be based on who I like least, rather than being inspired by a party or person. I am the classic disenfranchised lefty – I could never bring myself for a party that is proud of the fact it will save $25 million a year by denying asylum seekers the basic right of free legal help. But I am sick of how the current government has treated its supporters with such disdain.
So election day will be a bit depressing, I think.
But oddly, even though having faith makes times like this tricky, it gives comfort also – governments will come and go, but other things – the real, true, important, eternal things – remain. And I guess it’s those things I hold onto.