Faith and the Green Party DO mix

Posted on March 25, 2015 at 4:52 pm,

Yesterday, Gillan Scott (formerly of God and Politics UK, now blogging at Archbishop Cranmer) wrote a post with the provocative title “Green Party: Christians welcome, but only if you ignore your faith”. Whilst Gillan is usually even-handed, the post was a hatchet-job, basically claiming that the Green Party’s positions on abortion, euthanasia, and same-sex marriage make it impossible for a Christian to remain true to their faith and belong to or vote for the Greens. He ignores the fact that most of these views are very similar to those of other political parties, and doesn’t acknowledge that many Christians think that Green politics are the best fit for a Christian.

In response, I thought I’d explain some of the reasons I think that the Green Party is a good fit for Christians.

Firstly, the issue of creation care. In Genesis 1:29-30, God tells the first humans that he’s putting humanity in charge of the rest of creation. Christians have traditionally interpreted this as meaning that we have a duty of care to it, perhaps the most notable example being Francis of Assisi. Living, as we do, in an era where human technology is reshaping the global climate, we have to ensure that this duty is central to our political life. In the UK, the Green Party is the only political party that treats environmental issues with this level of importance.

Secondly, the issue of poverty. Anybody familiar with the Bible will know that it frequently talks about how God wants us to care for the poorest and most vulnerable in society. Right now, none of the other UK national parties treat this as a priority. Even Labour are talking about how they will be tougher on benefits claimants than the Tories. When austerity policies have seen record numbers of people turning to foodbanks, with a very large proportion of them saying that it is because of benefit changes, a Christian approach to the poor cannot allow us to side with the tabloid press who routinely demonise benefits claimants.

Finally, I’ll mention immigration. Whilst this issue is less fundamental to my theology, my politics, and my party’s politics than the other two, it’s one of the issues that the media and politicians are talking about a lot at the moment. Labour, the Tories, and UKIP are currently playing a game of one-upmanship to see who can talk the toughest about immigration. The problem is that being anti-immigrant is a fundamentally unChristian position. One of the groups that are disadvantaged in society both now and in Biblical times are the immigrants (or aliens, as many Bible translations say). And the Bible repeatedly tells us to about welcome the aliens. The New Testament says many times, and in many different ways, that the differences between nationalities and ethnicities are nothing compared to the unity Christians should have in Christ. As Colossians 3:11 says, “Here there is not Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave, free; but Christ is all, and in all.” (ESV translation). Right now, as far as I can tell, the Greens are the only national party which are trying to say positive things about immigrants when the issue comes up.

So I’ve outlined three issues that are (or at least should be) massively important to British politics in 2015 where I think that the Green Party is more in line with a genuinely Christian approach than the other mainstream political parties. In all three cases, my faith leads me to support the Green Party approach above those of other parties. Given that all three are far more salient to today’s politics than abortion, same-sex marriage, or euthanasia, Gillan’s assertion that Christians should leave our faith at the door before joining or voting for the Green Party looks a little bit silly.

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