I filled in the survey myself, but found one question almost impossible to answer: ‘Which party leader is most like Jesus?’ (you can see who the audience plumped for in the poll results, ‘News Analysis’, p8)
The question is impossible to answer because Jesus was not a politician with a mandate to win a general election in a couple of weeks’ time. While Christ neither condemned nor affirmed the political structures of his day, he certainly transcended them, saying, “My kingdom is not of this world” (John 18:36).
A young man at a Christian conference recently asked me which of the parties he should vote for as a believer. I wasn’t able to help him much. We are presented with choices, none of which are perfect. God has given each of us a mind to think for ourselves rather than telling us from on high who we should vote for. Maybe there isn’t a right or wrong answer. God tends to get his will done through imperfect people – me, you and politicians included.
Unlike the USA, there is little expectation for party leaders in the UK to be religious. As it happens, several of those in the running this year do claim a Christian faith. Theresa May is a vicar’s daughter, Jonathan Bartley of the Green Party founded the Christian think tank Ekklesia, and of course Tim Farron’s evangelical faith has been in the news for all the wrong reasons (see ‘In my opinion’, p15).
The faith that our party leaders do or don’t hold is unlikely to sway the result much this year, but hopefully our own faith will – at least when we enter the polling booth. As Jo Swinney reminds us in her article on the interplay of politics, patriotism and Christianity (p30), whatever the manifestos may say, Christians are called to live as citizens of another kingdom first and foremost. But which box that means you tick is ultimately between you and God.