Monday, August 23, 2010

Religion and Politics

Australian Politics has become rather fascinating of late.  Here we are, stuck without a real government, because nobody can agree on which direction is best - or who can best take us there!  Like almost everyone I talked to, I had difficulty working out who to vote for.  I wasn't really happy with any of the choices, and didn't actually decide until the morning of the election.  Seems I was anything but alone in that!

I also couldn't resist jumping into a facebook conversation this morning, about politics and the different agendas that might be propelling us God-knows-where, now that a handful of independents have the balance of power.  One of my very good friends was defending one of the independents who she knows personally (& she feels is an honest and trustworthy person - which is reassuring) however she did add as an aside "and he's a Christian".  I'm glad to say I know my friend well enough to know that she would not vote for anyone simply based on their profession of religion - but it did rankle one of my pet "bugbears".  I get a bit riled at many the so-called "Christian" political agendas that are pushed forward.  So often they seem to be focused on protecting their own position of privilege, and oblivious, at best, to issues of justice.  Thankfully it isn't always the case - but there is more than enough of it to make me hopping mad!!

Anyway, in the light of all that very un-inspiring reality, just before the election I came across something that I thought was quite inspiring.  I found it in a (surprisingly balanced) Christian publication.  It is attributed to an American faith community called the Sojourners  (about whom I know absolutely nothing) and I thought it was well worth reflecting on.  For me it is also really encouraging that this has come out of America, when American politics can often seem (to many of us Aussies, self included) so very blinkered.   

Anyway, here goes.  Its a series of statements which were released prior to a recent US election, entitled "God is not a Republican.  Or a Democrat".  I don't have a link, so will just copy them here (& for those reading who don't identify themselves as Christians, I think you could substitute "people of faith", or even just "people" for the word Christian, and just "ethical" instead of "religious".  The principles are still worth pondering):

* We believe that sincere Christians can choose to vote for any party for reasons deeply rooted in their faith.

*We believe that poverty - caring for the poor and vulnerable - is a religious issue.  Do the parties' budget and tax policies reward the rich or show compassion for poor families?  Do their foreign policies include fair trade and debt cancellation for the poorest countries? (Matt 25:35-40, Isaiah 10:1-2)

*We believe that the environment - caring for God's earth - is a religious issue.  Do the parties' policies protect the creation or serve corporate interests that damage it? (Genesis 2:15, Psalm 24:1)

*We believe that war - and our call to be peacemakers - is a religious issue.  Do the parties' policies pursue 'wars of choice' or respect international law and cooperation in responding to real global threats (Matt 56:9)

* We believe that truth-telling is a religious issue.  Do the parties tell the truth in foreign and domestic policies? (John 8:32)

*We believe that human rights - respecting the image of God in every person - is a religious issue.  In our case, do the parties have a compassionate approach to asylum seekers (Genesis 1:27)

*We believe that our response to terrorism is a religious issue.  Do the parties see evil only in our enemies but never in our own policies? (Matt 6:33, Proverbs 8:12-13)

*We believe that a consistent ethic of human life is a religious issue.  Do the parties' positions on abortion, capital punishment, euthanasia, weapons of mass destruction, HIV/AIDS - and other pandemics - and genocide around the world - obey the biblical injunction to choose life? (Deut 30:19)

Food for thought.  Shalom.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

House update

After the last post, I thought I should probably add the end of the house-buying saga, just so everyone doesn't wonder whether or not we are currently homeless!

Yes.  The vendors did finally work out their legal tangle and settle - two weeks late.  Ian had taken two weeks off work to do some renovating work and get ready to move in - the settlement happened