How to vote episode – 5 May 2022

Australian Christian leaders on election issues:

Rev Ian Altman, State Director Scripture Union NSW

a) what issues would you like to see discussed during the federal election?

 As I think about the upcoming federal election and as a follower of Jesus, I feel that the issues that should be discussed include:

b) what issues do you think Christians should be focussing on as they decide whom to vote for in the coming Australian federal election?

As a follower of Jesus and a Christian leader, I feel that we need to use a lens that focuses less on our rights, power and position, and more of a focus on the things that Jesus calls his disciples and followers to – justice and mercy, care for the marginalised and the alien, empowering the weak and being a voice for the voiceless, all within the context of making the Good News of Jesus known to children, young people and families. 

Brad Chilcott, Founder of Welcoming Australia and Activate Church

I would like to see a discussion about we can ensure everyone in Australia has equal opportunity to belong, contribute and thrive – to move the indicators of success from what different events or decisions mean for our economy, to how can we create an economy that works for the collective good. How do we measure the success of a Government? By how the well-being of all Australians, especially the most vulnerable, has been improved. 

Not too dissimilar from above – but I would say that some Christians should stop the self-interested focus on their right to impose beliefs on society around issues like abortion, euthanasia and transgender inclusion and instead focus on justice – which is after all what love looks like in practice. A Christian’s role in election time is to demonstrate in word and priority that individualism, greed, exclusion and violence will never build a better future for all of us, but solidarity, generosity, radical inclusion and selfless non-violence just might.

Archbishop Peter Comensoli (Catholic Archbishop of Melbourne)

What issues would I like to be discussed?

Building an integral human economy and ecology
Intergenerational support and care
An indigenous voice to parliament
Protections from religious discrimination

 What issues should a Christian be focused on?

A policy framework that seeks to enhance the good of families
A policy framework that fosters both a fair wage for workers and an openness to enterprise 
A policy framework that focuses on the common good, rather than sectional interests

Rev Tim Costello, Executive Director, Micah Australia

I am worried about the politicisation of faith. In the heat of Trump’s election in 2016, my message to American Christians was, don’t go left, don’t go right, go deeper into Jesus. In Australia, I think the message is the same; put simply, Iet our faith influence our politics, not the other way around.  

I am also concerned about the reduction of the Gospel to a few contested political issues; religious freedom, marriage equality or abortion. Now, I am pro-life, yet I seldom hear other Christians who are pro life saying, with the same fervour, that they are pro-climate action, pro-aid, pro-asylum rights. We Christians are called to be pro-life for the vulnerable at all times. With that in mind, we must take seriously the clear threat of Climate Change. Our inaction imposes suffering on the vulnerable now and into the future, whether they be on islands in the Pacific, in growing deserts in central Africa, or in our own regional towns, like Lismore.

Dr Sureka Goringe, National Director UnitingWorld

b) what issues do you think Christians should be focussing on as they decide who to vote for in the coming Australian federal election?

I think our focus should be Jesus’ manifesto in Luke 4, and hence the needs of the most vulnerable and marginalised in society – the “poor, the captives, the blind (disabled?) and the oppressed”.

So issues I think are close to Jesus’ heart include – First peoples justice, the unemployed (Newstart allowance), refugees in detention, the implementation of the recommendations from the aged care royal commission and the disability royal commission, pay for those who do essential work in the social services sector, gender justice, aid to developing countries, just to name a few.

We are called to love our neighbor – but with the definition of neighbour radically redefined by the Good Samaritan parable. Our neighbours are not people in our own sphere, but the strangers on the road.

Justice is how we practice love as a community. So this election is a chance to weave more love into the structures of society, caring first not for ourselves, the church or Christians – but for those whom Jesus appointed us to be good news for.

a) what issues would you like to see discussed during the federal election? 

My personal passion is working for justice on a global scale and to see Australia play our part in the reconciliation and renewal of the world. So I want to hear discussion of (a) the sustainable development goals and the massive injustice of resource inequality between nations (b) climate change – the existential threat to human wellbeing which disproportionately affects the poor, women, children, people with disabilities etc   (c) the ever rising number of displaced peoples in the world

Pastor Adam Gowen, Deputy Chair of Common Grace

a) what issues would you like to see discussed during the federal election? 

I think our society would benefit from more discussions about what community is, and how we can walk in the way of love (demonstrated by Jesus) to enhance our connectedness both to the people around us but also to and with the creation (Country) we are situated on. In this way we honour the Original Custodians and their wonderful wisdom, and make room in our selves to embrace the other. 

b) what issues do you think Christians should be focussing on as they decide who to vote for in the coming Australian federal election?

Faith, hope, and love. The scripture that isn’t just for weddings, but is very relevant to us in our contemporary context. Faith – what does it mean to be faithful?; How can we find new expressions – or revive ancient ones, in our context? Hope – beyond fear, let’s dare to hope for what our communal future could look like. Love, vote not for what may benefit yourself, but what will benefit the most vulnerable in our society; this is a greater love.

Jo Knight, CEO, Anglican Overseas Aid

As a Christian leader responding to global poverty, I want to see the injustice of climate change on the poor discussed and lead to a bold and credible national plan of action. 

We as the Church can raise our voices and vote for the common good to care for people and God’s planet. Climate justice impacts us all but hits the poor first and hardest. 

As Christians, we should demand a hopeful agenda and ask political candidates what journey our nation will be on in the coming three years under their policies. Use your vote to love your neighbour and pray for your MP that they will do all in their power to lead with justice, compassion and wisdom.

Rev Melissa Lipsett, CEO Baptist World Aid Australia

I would like to see Australia discussing our generosity as a nation, including but not limited to policy relating to refugees and asylum seekers, and our Foreign AId budget where we have fallen from 14th place to 21st place in global generosity in recent years.  A discussion around these issues means that we, Christians and non-Christians alike, have to consider the well being of others, rather than only seeking self interest at the ballot box.   

Steve McAlpine, National Communicator, City Bible Forum

The issue I would like to see discussed is whether the major parties are committed to genuine pluralism in the public square, and how they can avoid a hard secularism that leaves no room for deep differences. We need to stop demonising those we disagree with, and that has to be modelled by our political leaders. I am not so much concerned about specific policies (major parties tend to align), but whether we are a confident enough nation to realise that celebrating diversity doesn’t just mean championing what I like and believe, and how I act, but also what others like and believe, and how they act also.

Rev Dr John Maclean, Vice Principal, Christ College,  convenor of the Gospel, Society and Culture Committee of the Presbyterian Church of NSW

There are so many important issues for the federal government at present: aged care, affordable housing (though that is more a state issue), climate change/ environmental policy, robust health system, national security, freedom of religion, foreign aid, refugee and immigration policy. There will be plenty of talk about economic management, but the reality is that the Australian government has relatively little control over that, and we should be at least as interested in the more specific issues above (which all relate to economic policy in some way). Christians should be thinking about the general good (what is good for the whole population), but especially the common good — the strength and stability of institutions that serve the whole community.

Professor Patrick Parkinson, Director of Publica

as a Christian leader a) what issues would you like to see discussed during the federal election? Issues to do with religious freedom – the right of faith-based schools and other faith-based organisations to employ, or prefer to employ, staff who adhere to that faith or its values is central. This is currently the most threatened religious freedom at the present time.

In secular organisations, the freedom to bring your whole self to work must include freedom to be open about your faith. Diversity, equity and inclusion must include religious diversity as well.

Other issues: a government which focuses only on the economy is socially impoverished. I will be listening to whether politicians talk about issues concerning the wellbeing of families and communities, and particularly, the needs of vulnerable children and adolescents.

b) what issues do you think Christians should be focussing on as they decide who to vote for in the coming Australian federal election? If a political party will not support freedom of religion – and it is quite clear that some members of Parliament and candidates do not – then I cannot possibly vote for them. I have already told my local MP, Bridget Archer, who is in one of the most marginal seats in the country (Bass), that I cannot in good conscience vote for her because she was one of only a handful of MPs who voted against passing the Religious Discrimination Bill.

Dr Tanya Riches, Master’s Program Director Hillsong College

Given the increasing impact of climate change upon our region, I think that we desperately need to focus upon environmental issues in the next election. Additionally, I will be seeking to discern how we can best prioritise the needs of those who are vulnerable as the pandemic continues to affect groups including the elderly and people with disabilities. I think that requires us listening to those who may not be in attendance at church on Sunday mornings; the disability community includes those who don’t have access to services on a weekly basis. 

Naomi Wolfe, Academic Dean, University of Divinity’s Indigenous Studies program

a) what issues would you like to see discussed during the federal election? 

I would love to justice issues being more front and centre such as the growing number of Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander and other vulnerable children & youth being incarcerated; the cost of housing both rental and purchase of property; and also access to healthcare that is responsive, culturally inclusive and effective. 

b) what issues do you think Christians should be focussing on as they decide who to vote for in the coming federal election? 

I really would like people to look past the political game playing and ask the question: what has really been achieved in the last term? What has been done for the ‘least of these’?  

Black Sabbath – 7 April 2022

Michael’s prayer for Holy Saturday
Everliving and faithful God, as we today remember that Jesus embraced the darkness of death for us, give to us hopeful patience as we wait upon you even while we walk through the valley of death’s shadow; come quickly to release us from our bondage to decay; show us signs of new life even amidst the encircling gloom and turmoil; and lead us to your heavenly home, in the power of your Holy Spirit who raised Jesus from the dead. Amen.

Megan’s poems for Holy Saturday are found on her website in her Easter Birth Trilogy and 2020 Easter poems.

%d bloggers like this: