Election season is in full swing and we have been praying and reflecting on the best way for us, as a diverse movement of Christians, to reflect the beauty, generosity and justice we’ve found in our Lord Jesus.
Over the next three weeks, we will be considering what it means to vote as a Christian in Australia, asking what factors should and shouldn’t influence our decision, considering key issues, and taking time to become better acquainted with the strengths and weaknesses of our political system. We will ask questions like:
- How should we engage with this broken human political system?
- How can we uphold ‘the common good’ in such and imperfect system?
- Which voices should influence our vote?
- What is the role of prayer?
We will share contributions from various Australian Christian leaders and thinkers, and also celebrate the many great initiatives by churches and Christian organisations produced for election season.
As a community, Common Grace longs to contribute hope and peace to our national discussion, without shying away from the confrontation required to advocate for those whose voices have been silenced. We want to see our Christian values uplifted in Australian society because we believe God’s ways are best for the flourishing of all humankind. We want to see our wealth as a nation managed with a sense of stewardship and with a commitment to care for the poor and the vulnerable. Likewise, we long for legislation that protects the vulnerable, cares for our common home, promotes equality and practically expresses the value of each ‘made in the image of God’ human. And, of course, we want to contribute life-giving words to Australian public conversation, with a gracious tone that sounds more like Jesus.
Election Resources #1
To get started, Kylie Beach, our Communications Director has brought some thoughts together around the need for real Christian conversations and the importance of thinking about thinking.
As Christians approaching our federal election, I reckon we’ve got to get better at turning around sooner and asking “Why do you think differently to me on this?” Heck, we might even need to say, “I think I should defer to you as the expert on this particular issue, because my privilege has skewed my perspective”.
This is a timely read as we talk politics in our Christian communities in the face of the election, have a look here.
We’ve also gathered some pieces written over the past couple of years that discuss the big picture of how we might approach voting from a Christian perspective. If you’re looking for a place to start, check these out:
- Religion and Politics is like ice cream and manure: they don't mix - by Jarrod McKenna
- How to Vote Christianly – by John Dickson
- Gospel Shaped Politics – by Richard Glover, Michael Allison
- Why I won’t vote my values – by Scott Higgins
- Should A Christian Vote for a Christian Party - by Greg Bondar and Brad Chilcott (Common Grace Board Member)
- Faith in the Election - by Nils von Kalm
- A Vote for the Voiceless - by the Catholic Bishops Statement of Australia on the Election
"Who then are the people unheard and unseen? What does it mean for Australia to care for them? If we fail to ask these questions and to try to answer them, then much that goes on in this or any other election campaign will be political theatre that does not address the real issues."
We also wanted to let you know that our friends at Micah Australia are preparing for the election through Prayer Vigils, a great way to bring before God your hopes for Australia and your concerns for the vulnerable. Have a look and take part here: www.micahaustralia.org/vigils
Election Resources #2
This week we are delighted to bring you a challenging encouragement entitled 7 Practices for Hearing & Responding to the Margins (Especially During These Elections) from Vice Principal of Morling College and Founding Director of The GlobalChurch Project Graham Hill. It’s an insightful read, underscored by Graham’s passion for helping effective Christian leaders from the Majority World tell their stories, aware that the western world can learn much from them. Read Graham’s blog here and see his ongoing work here.
We’ve also invited each of our campaign teams to give their vision for a beautiful, generous and just Australia. Our teams are comprised of Christians who volunteer their time with Common Grace, bringing a wealth of experience and knowledge from various roles that they are employed to do within the sector. Here’s just a little taste of their vision and understanding with regards to policy, and you can click through to read more.
Yes, it is time for Australia to carve out a new response to people who seek safety on our shores. It is well and truly time.”
We are also pleased to again highlight some of the wonderful work that our friends are producing, specifically designed to resource us as Christians as we think and pray about policy. Take a look at:
- Uniting Justice's comprehensive Election Guide: A Flourishing Society Federal Election Society 2016
- Net Act, A Project of Catholic Social Justice, Welfare and Educational Agencies Election Kit: Voting for Our Values
- Eternity news' Federal Election Guide
- Anglicare Australia's Federal Election Guide
Election Resources #3
It is just a few days until our nation votes in our Federal Election! Some of you have had reason to vote already. It really has flown by, hasn’t it?
We want to encourage you that we are hearing many testimonies of Christians who are approaching this election with more prayer, research and reflection than they ever have before, and who are considering the impact of their vote not only on themselves, but also on others and our whole society. For us, this is a hopeful sign of Christians extending the beauty, generosity and justice that we’ve found in Jesus to our world… and it’s exciting!
For those who are still feeling a little overwhelmed, you can find the AEC’s voting guides for each house of parliament here: for the House of Representatives and the Senate.
BUT… before you get stuck into the last minute research, let us point you the wonderful blog contribution that we have for you this week by Richard R Glover. Richard’s piece discusses voting through the lens of faith, love, and hope, and helps us to come to terms with the perplexity and disappointment of voting, so that we can "vote boldly" (to paraphrase Luther)!
Together, let’s approach this election prayerfully and steward our vote to the best of our ability and understanding. Let’s remain hopeful in Christ, even as we acknowledge the frustrating limitations of our individual ability to bring change to our broken world.
Struggling to find the words to pray about the election? See this “Prayer for the election" from the Catholic Bishops of Australia..
(If you know of other prayer resources, we would love to collect them here: please send them to [email protected])
Voting is just one small part of change-making and we all have daily, practical opportunities to allow God’s kingdom to be established here on earth through acts of loving him, others and his creation.
.... And after all that and you still feel totally stuck, why not check out Help! I'm a Christian & I vote!
P.S. Join our mailing list so you can keep up to date with Common Grace, a movement of people passionate about Jesus and justice here: www.commongrace.org.au
P.P.S. If you’ve found our election resources helpful and would like to contribute with a once off donation to Common Grace’s work, you can do so here. We are funded entirely by donations from our Common Grace members and other like-minded organisations, so every contribution counts.
How to Votes as a Christian in 2016 in 11 (not easy) steps