On Voting and Jesus, Part 2.

This post is part of a series

Election Principle 2 – You don’t vote to spread the Gospel

Again, I this may have been said elsewhere but it’s worth more than a head nod. Although I’d dearly love to go into an extended exploration of Church and State here I haven’t got the space. For now it is enough to say that it is not the job of government to make Australia more “Christian” – that’s the role of churches. Government’s can make this easier and harder for churches to do. But we shouldn’t look to the State to make people Christian.

This sounds obvious enough, but it’s important because often when people slip into the line of argument that describes Australia as a “Christian nation” what they are describing is a country with a Christianised, moral legislative agenda (i.e. our laws resemble the Christian worldview). Christianity is not a just moral framework. To suggest it is sells Christianity short. It is a relationship with God, through Jesus.

Consider this: No one has ever woken up in the morning and thought “hmm… My moral values delivered to me by my country’s laws are so aligned with Christianity that it seems obvious to me that I must become a Christian”. No, rather it’s through individual Christians working as churches to introduce people to Jesus that people become Christians.

So don’t feel like as you vote this Saturday, that if you make the wrong decision then it’s going to have ramifications for the Gospel going out. It won’t. God has it in hand. He is the one who establishes governments (Romans 13:1-7)

This Election101 – Marginal seats.

Congratulations if you live in Herbert (QLD), Dickson (QLD), Longman (QLD), Flynn (QLD), Dawson (QLD), Forde (QLD), Leichhardt (QLD), Bonner (QLD), Brisbane (QLD), Bowman (QLD), Ryan (QLD), Hinkler (QLD), Robertson (NSW), Macquarie (NSW), Gilmore (NSW), Macarthur (NSW), Bennelong (NSW), Eden-Monaro (NSW), Page (NSW), Dobell (NSW), Lindsay (NSW), Hughes (NSW), Paterson (NSW), Cowper (NSW), Corangamite (VIC), Deakin (VIC), Melbourne (VIC), McEwen (VIC), La Trobe (VIC), Bass (TAS), Braddon (TAS), Kingston (SA), Sturt (SA), Swan (WA), Hasluck (WA), Brand (WA), Cowan (WA), Stirling (WA), Canning (WA) or Solomon (NT) – this election is all about you.

For the rest of us, not so much. I drove from my place (in the seat of Sydney) to a bookshop (in the seat of Bennelong) on Saturday and I felt like I was stepping into another world. Bennelong (John Howard’s old house of reps. seat) is held with a margin of 1.4%. That is to say if 2 in every 100 people decided to vote in another way (taking into account where your preferences go) then they would have a different local member (John Alexander instead of Maxine McKew). If you are fortunate enough to live in McEwen in Victoria then if 3 people in ever 1000 voted differently then the seat would change hands! The major parties spend lots of money in these 40 seats because it’s much easier to change a few people’s minds than a few thousand (as in my neighbouring seat of Grayndler where Labor won the equivalent of 41 802 more votes than the Liberal candidate in the last election after preferences).

What do we do with this information?

– The first thing we need to do is pray for the people in these seats. Pray that they’ll make wise decisions, pray they’ll make decisions in the interests of the country rather than their own.

– Then we need to look carefully at our local candidates (you can find them on the Australian Electoral Commission (AEC) website) and think through what their local policies are. Do your local candidates look like they’re going to serve the interests of your local area?

Anything I’ve missed?

Policy area – Assylum Seekers

Before we start, 2 great vids, one from the Hungry Beast and the other from Getup!

There is a lot of hype in this election and to describe “boat people” as a political football is a hopeless understatement in this election. The Liberals have Tony Abbott promising to “Stop the Boats”. The ALP looked for a moment like they were moving in a more humane policy direction but then for reasons of political expediency decided to move towards a low-fat Howard government plan. The only noticeable difference between the two policies is that one involves East Timor (a refugee rights charter signatory) (ALP) and Nauru which is not (LP).

Some points to consider:

-Remember, there aren’t very many votes. The number of boats is extremely small, the amount that we spend on stopping those not-very-many boats is disproportionately high.

– You can’t stop the boats. Though Julie Bishop and Tony Abbott would like us to think that our domestic policy (they policies of our country) have a big part to play in stopping asylum seekers, they really don’t. If you had to flee your country because of you were in severe danger, do you think you’d stop to peruse the varying immigration policies of the major parties of whatever nation you’re fleeing to? No of course you wouldn’t. The political situations in volatile countries is by far and away the first concern of those fleeing! The saber rattling is nothing more than that.

– If you could stop the boats, you shouldn’t. The suggestion has been made that boats should be nudged back out into international waters. To do so would result in the deaths of many people as the boats are deliberately sabotaged by the people smuggling crews. This is untenable and we are meant to be more compassionate than that!

– Jesus was a refugee. This sounds like a silly point but go with me. Jesus, as a child, was taken by his family to Egypt, because King Herod was performing State Infanticide and Jesus’ life was in grave danger. If Egypt had the same immigration policies as Australia has had over the last 20 years then he might have still been in a detention facility when he was to start his public ministry! Jesus’ situation is not disanalogous with many who are fleeing to our country. Iraq is at the moment in nothing short of civil war with Kurdish and Christian Iraqis fleeing in their thousands from militia sanctioned slaughter. They flee here. We need to find more compassionate policy alternatives than either of the 2 major parties are offering.

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9 Comments

Filed under Election 2010, Politics

9 responses to “On Voting and Jesus, Part 2.

  1. Peter

    I very much dislike the use of the boat people as political football! The more I think about it the more I realise that the media has drummed into our heads that this is something that we need to stop! But yet again it is a bandaid cure. I believe that working in countries where people are fleeing to promote the Gospel is a good measure. It won’t stop pain and suffering altogether (in this age) but it is no bandaid cure… It’s the Real cure!

  2. Steve, you would be proud of me, I do think the Greens have the best refugee policy. We should allow them to make their legal claim of asylum in our country (the refugees, not the Greens… 🙂

  3. Pennee

    1) Principal 2 is sound, I could not agree more and am encourage to hear someone else say it as well’
    2) Gillard also has a policy to not only stop the boats, but cut immigration more than Julie Bishop and Tony Abbott, so for the sake of being balanced you should mention that as well.

    • steveboxwell

      Fair observation Pennee, but I thought I was being balanced by suggesting the ALP plan was nearly as bad as Howard’s “Pacific Solution”.

  4. Katie

    Hey Steve, for those who are voting for the first time and have no idea of what you’re talking about when you mention “preferences”, can you explain how that all works?

    • steveboxwell

      Why yes Katie I can. Or rather Youtube can! Have a look at this for preferential voting in the house of reps (lower house). Nothing as useful for the Senate on youtube but Anthony Green’s advice here is pretty good.

      • Elizabeth

        In our area if you do the preferences below the line you have to number them 1 to 86!

        Also, I know someone who is completely set against the Greens because they want to remove scripture from schools. What are your thoughts on this?

      • steveboxwell

        That’s why you should use belowtheline. I pre-polled yesterday because I’m going to a conference on the weekend. Because it prints out a personalised how to vote sheet, I could fill in the numbers and I was in and out in 4 minutes!

  5. Kellie

    Hey 1st time voters (or voters who have no idea about the preferential voting thing) should check out this website http://www.aec.gov.au/Education/Democracy_Rules/interactives/index.htm
    I’ve been using it with my year 6 class and they love it. It explains voting very simply with some interactive cartoons. The ‘Voting Tools’ activitiy explains all about preferential voting.

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