In a recent interview with Premier, Ed Miliband was asked whether Alastair Campbell’s famous ‘we don't do God’ rule will apply if Labour are successful in the upcoming general election (7th May).
But this question could also be turned around on Christians, many of whom ‘don’t do’ politics. Many feel that politics doesn’t change anything, or that they cannot vote for politicians who hold different views from them. Others simply find politics too confusing or think it’s irrelevant.
Those who turn up
It is for exactly these reasons that the Show Up campaign has been introduced. Launched by Christians in Politics and supported by a vast number of Christian organisations, it is encouraging positive Christian engagement in the run-up to the election and beyond.
As Miliband said in the interview: ‘I think there's a saying that “the country's run by those who turn up”, and that's really important. It's great that so many Christians take their responsibilities to vote so seriously. People are cynical about politics, but change doesn't simply come from politicians; it comes from people.
‘If you think about the issue of food poverty, it's been made an issue by the churches, by the food banks, by organisations like the Trussell Trust. Politics is too important to be left to politicians. That's a strange thing for a politician to say, maybe, but I think it is important.’
Getting on the pitch
One of the campaign’s founders, Andy Flannagan, believes that while the Church is making a profound impact in the UK, it often ignores important cultural aspects of modern life, such as media, business, education, the arts and politics. He points out that we invest in training future pastors and worship leaders, but questions how much of our time is spent training up the next generation of teachers, journalists and politicians.
‘For too long as Christians we’ve been shouting from the sidelines rather than getting on the pitch. It’s easy to send an email or a postcard; it’s harder to build relationships and work with those we may not necessarily agree with. In politics, the decisions are made by those who show up.
‘We have a choice as believers in the UK. Are we going to spend the next few years just commentating and complaining about the state of our country, or are we going to follow the biblical precedent of people like Joseph, Esther and Daniel, who served in the midst of regimes that make modern-day politics look positively virtuous. Surely it’s time for Christians to show up.’
What if all Christians got involved?
MP Gary Streeter agrees with Flannagan and has given his backing to the Show Up campaign. ‘Decisions are made at local and national political levels that fundamentally affect people’s lives,’ says Streeter.
‘In the run-up to a general election and amidst all the different party political campaigning, it is all too easy to become disillusioned, shrug our shoulders and not get involved. Instead, what if Christians all over the country got actively involved in politics to make a positive difference?’
Churches across the country held special Show Up Sunday services on 25th January. As well as showing the Show Up video, many used innovative ways to persuade members of the congregation to get involved and, crucially, to vote on election day.
The Show Up website features a broad range of useful resources that will help individuals and churches understand who the main parties, what they stand for and how they can get involved in politics at a variety of different levels.