At election time every political party promotes its agenda. It tells us what it thinks most needs to be done. It appeals to values voters like. Most voters inherit their values from their society without knowing where they come from.
Our left-right debate has a long history. It goes back to different systems justified by different gods. The Bible contains one side of a debate – against different gods with different political implications.
Democracy is supposed to mean government by the will of the people. But which people? And don’t the people sometimes get it wrong? Ten days before yet another British general election, it is far from clear what the people’s will is, let alone that it is competent to produce a satisfactory government.
The idea of government according to the people’s will is usually dated to around the seventeenth century. Before then, government was supposed to be by the will of God. Today, nobody admits to believing that; we have inherited the mantra that ‘religion causes wars’. But given the uncertainties we now have, can we learn something from it?
Sara Gillingham writes on her experience of leaving Church after experiencing ‘Living in Love and Faith’
It is now over six months since I made the decision to leave the Church of England, and I feel far better for doing so.
I was left scarred by my experience of the inner machinations of the Church and the Living in Love and Faith Project. It was some years ago at the Regional Shared Conversations that I shared my experience of growing up as a Christian with intersex traits (also known as ‘variations in sex characteristics’, VSC). For the uninitiated, intersex traits can include variations in chromosomes, gonads or genitalia that do not fit the typical binary of what it is to be born male or female (not to be confused with transgender).
During this time I had people without invitation praying for me to be healed, ordained priests refusing to share the Peace with me, being labelled ‘disordered’ and having rumours spread through my Diocese that I was really a man with bad intentions. But I have frankly moved on from this bad experience of Church by simply leaving it.
Listening to the General Election debate makes me think of David Attenborough’s nature programmes. In species after species, the males fight. The females mate with the winners. The rest of the time they live in groups where they cooperate with each other.
We humans have evolved with two instincts: to cooperate and to compete. When we compete we want to win, and we want somebody else to lose – or at least, to go away and not bother us again. On this matter, the dominant values of British politics today are the values of the worst religious traditions, not the best.