Justin Welby’s key note address to an audience of nearly 400, asked us to encourage people to move away from ‘consumerism politics’ whereby political parties ‘sell’ their policies to appeal to making us, our families, communities or special interest groups ‘better off’ . Instead he said we should ask our politicians what they will do to deliver ‘the common good’. For those doubting whether churches should be involved in political discussions he said that : “It’s impossible to love Jesus Christ and not to care about the welfare of people in every respect.”
Exercising our vote is a duty and responsibility we all share. I found it helpful when he acknowledged that it is unlikely that we will always like every policy of a political party, and there may be an element of compromise required. However spoiling our ballot papers, or not voting he described as ‘a cop out’.
John Ellis, Moderator of General Assembly said that
“Archbishop Justin showed how we should view politics through a lens of the Gospel: If we did that we would never succumb to apathy or the temptation to demonise individuals or political parties – instead we would honour the positive and support all those seeking the common good. So, as Christians we stay hopeful, with a stronger motivation to use the political process to fight injustices.”
The workshops throughout the day offered opportunities to learn more about the pressing social justice issues we face, the myths around poverty, homelessness, immigration and , the global threat of climate change. There is a wealth of resources available to support churches, and groups, as well as useful material for church magazines. There is also a special Think Pray Vote pack which is designed to be used in churches and groups in the four weeks before the May General Election.