What we've been reading this weekNick Spencer on the electionContacting election candidatesHow to Show Up Snap Election - How to respond?Thoughts from a Broom CupboardDifficulties getting to the Polling Station?Can’t be bothered to vote? Some reasons why you should….Politics is in need of incarnation, not just demonstration10 Reasons Christians Should Vote in the ElectionsThe election as an opportunityPolitics is dead...When praying for your leaders feels tough...'THOSE WHO SHOW UP' - Every church leader should read this book! If you care about your neighbour, you care about politicsDoes politics really matter?Why the Catholic Church calls us to be "active citizens"Serving God On the Inside and On the OutsideWho would Jesus vote for?5 reasons Christians don't get involved in politicsShifting views on politics from an Ethiopian immigrantOne student's u-turn on politicsTime to get engaged!A call for students to have a go!

Time to get engaged!


Jubilee Centre's Njoki Mahiani and Guy Brandon compare two archetypal voters and make a suggestion for Christian voters facing the all too familiar question of what to do when an election comes round. 

This article was written prior to the 2015 General Election


This year the Jubilee Centre wants to help more people get engaged.  No, not the kind of engagement which precedes wedding bells and a honeymoon but the political kind, which results in paradigm shifts and sees societies transformed. 

‘History is made by those who show up.’ So said Victorian Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli and, unfortunate as the outcome of that statement may often be, we rather agree.  To that end, in this electoral year and as part of the ‘Show Up’ campaign, we want to see more Christians engage with public life at all levels by reaching out to two particular Christian archetypes: Dutiful Debbie and Disillusioned Dave.


Debbie

Debbie is bound by a sense of civic duty.  Perhaps indifferent to the day-to-day consequences of policy reform and unsure about the detailed workings of government, she nevertheless feels instinctively that she ought to ‘do her bit’ by voting in elections.  Inspired by the support for Barack Obama offered by dozens of celebrities through the menacingly-titled ‘Vote or Die’ campaign in 2008, Debbie not only registered to vote in the 2010 general election but actually showed up to cast her ballot, encouraging her peers to do likewise. 

These simple actions put her credibility streets ahead of that of ‘Vote or Die’ poster-girl Paris Hilton (who backed the Obama campaign in 2008, wore the t-shirt, but neglected to register) but they limit Debbie’s potential as a true change-maker. Unfortunately, Debbie overlooks the fact that being politically engaged isn’t something you switch on once every five years and then sit back and let the professionals take care of the real work. In the Bible, government is something that’s distributed across society, with individuals, families and communities participating in the decisions and tasks that affect them the most. Unlike her biblical namesake (Judges 4), she doesn’t make the really hard decisions, doesn’t get her hands dirty, and doesn’t take political responsibility for what happens in the society we actually create together.


Dave

Enter Disillusioned Dave, an altogether different animal.  Dave is constitutionally informed but democratically challenged, eager not to have his idealistic perspective tainted by becoming too involved in the grubby game that is modern politics.  Albeit grudgingly, he finds himself identifying with Russell Brand’s armchair activism and restricts his political participation to protests. Dave supports local social action enterprises but is mistrustful of party machinery and institutions at all levels, believing them to open the door to corruption as they gain influence. He understands that change can only come through action but struggles to reconcile his strong personal convictions with the compromise that seems inevitable for successful cooperation at the grassroots and beyond.

Dave might be right to be sceptical of professional politics, but he forgets that meaningful change has to come from top-down as well as bottom-up initiatives. He could also take heart from the Bible’s King David, whose indiscretions made claiming duck houses on expenses seem tame but who was still God’s anointed and still brought about real and lasting transformation for his people.

Are you a Debbie or a Dave?  If so, take heart!  Jubilee Centre has written a book for the dutiful, the disillusioned and the dithering.  Votewise 2015 aims to help Christians understand how to think about the economy, debt and austerity; Europe and immigration; the environment; the NHS and education – issues that affect all of us, from a Christian perspective.  When we understand more about God’s redemptive vision for how our society and communities should look, we can respond meaningfully to the challenges we face – as well as voting in a way that honours our faith.


Votewise 2015, by Guy Brandon, is available from the Jubilee Centre website.