Now that Ol' Gordy has formalised what we've all known for months and set a date for the General Election we can expect nothing but political madness for the next month or so. Until recently all I have been worrying about is who to vote for. Do I stick with the status quo and vote Labour? Do I risk the all-new, shiny, fluffy, friendly Tories? Or will I be wondering if my bum looks big in the Lib Dems? Do I don my fairtrade yak hair shirt and vote Green again?
However, now things aren't that simple. The Westminster 2010: Declaration of Christian Conscience has muddied the waters. Apparently, what I should do is vote for the candidate who will do the most to ‘respect, uphold and protect the right of Christians to hold and express Christian beliefs and act according to Christian conscience’.
35 Christian leaders ranging from the well known (Ex Archbishop of Canterbury George Carey) to the completely obscure (Jonathan Oloyede or Dennis Wrigley anyone?) have released a document of conscience that they are encouraging Christians of all denominations to sign.
On the surface, this isn't a bad idea at all. The segments about core historical beliefs, support of the poor and a commitment to social justice are all aims that we can all applaud. However, once you start to read the document itself in more detail there are some problematic areas.
Take the section on Marriage (follow the link for the full text). I realise that as a Christian at the more liberal end of the scale I know that my views on marriage are not necessarily those articulated in the declaration. However, the following sentence has disturbing and contradictory implications.
"We call on government to honour, promote and protect marriage and we refuse to submit to any edict forcing us to equate any other form of sexual partnership with marriage"
So unless 'marriage' is what the declaration says it is, Christians should refuse to submit to other interpretations? Even if those interpretations are legal? Like, for example, same sex civil partnerships. We don't have to agree with our nation's laws, but we do need to obey them, particularly if they do not lead us to do anything immoral. Simply accepting other viewpoints does not equate to an immoral act. This statement on marriage is even worse when juxtaposed with one from the section on Conscience.
"We will seek to ensure that religious liberty and freedom of conscience are unequivocally protected against interference by the state and other threats, not only to individuals but also to institutions including families, charities, schools and religious communities."
What about the freedom of people who disagree with evangelical Christian teaching? Is it referring merely to religious freedoms and conscience or is it referring to all freedoms and the conscience of all people? What about the freedom of those who believe its OK for two people of the same sex to get married? Will it uphold their freedom of conscience too?
Many Christians that I know have already signed the declaration, but I'm struggling to understand the ultimate purpose of the document. It's mildly militant language reflects the partisan rhetoric of the US Christian right and is directly influenced by the recent Manhattan Declaration. However, the UK doesn't have a political party gunning for the Christian vote like the US Republicans. In the end, it seems like a high-concept equivalent of a Facebook campaign/group. And like those campaigns, it does not represent the views of all those that it claims to.
Indiana Jones & The Kingdom of the Crystal Skull **
tHE Spiderwick Chronicles ****
Gran Torino ****
Let the Right One In *****
Titan AE ***
Hellboy 2 ****
In The Loop *****
Alien 3 **
Forgetting Sarah Marshall **
City of Ember ***
Three Kings ***
Dead Snow ***