There is an aspect of the independence debate and wider British politics that really really sticks in my craw. That is David Cameron proclaiming that he is continuing God’s work. Which is quite disturbing, but not as disturbed as this individual that seems to think God wants to maintain the Union.
I am going to attempt to layout exactly why I find this so insulting and in doing so I hope to put across why I personally think Jesus would be appalled by our society and if he was to have an opinion on the referendum it would be for a Yes vote.
I would like to stress that this is an opinion based on some research, I don’t pretend to proscribe this as fact. I am not saying if you disagree with me you are not a Christian I am not even saying David Cameron isn’t a Christian but if he is I think he could do with reading his bible more.
This entire article is going to be dealing with hard core value stuff, so if I say something that upsets you, please understand that was never the intention I just want people to think about their political choices with their faith choices and make sure these aren’t fundamentally at odds. If you read this and disagree feel free to pop a counter argument below I would be very interested to read it.
Incase you couldn’t tell already, this is going to be a long one.
A Christian friend of mine who for the purposes of confidentiality and levity we will call Big Jim accidentally came out on the No side of the argument in Scotland. I say accidentally because he had clicked on the Naw twibbon, which automatically posts onto facebook you were looking and I spotted it. I replied somewhat sarcastically something along the lines of “well I guess you are no longer undecided then!” and a common friend replied asking him exactly why he had decided to vote no.
I wish I could give you proper quotes but the post was deleted not long after however the jist of his answer was that while he was all for the idea of independence he felt uncomfortable by what he described as the suddeness of the independence referendum. I think what he was trying to articulate that he wanted gradual further devolution into a sort of federal system then maybe independence at a later date.
Now there are several million gallons of reasons why this will never happen in the lifetimes of our children or our children’s children in the North Sea and our common friend quickly pointed out the wishy washy nature of his stance while simultaneously dumping a ton of counter information on him in the bullet train/textbook way described in the last article which resulted in Big Jim shutting down the discussion by deleting the post. However it did strike me odd that a man I know to have such a high standard of morality, whose heart bleeds for the people of Syria. Who loves people so well, who can’t walk past a person begging on the street and has such an open, honest faith that he will happily talk about with anyone about it had such a large blind spot when it came to applying his faith to the situation our country is in now.
Jesus is at the very least a socialist.
In Luke Chapter 3 you see John the Baptist preaching and declaring that “Anyone who has two shirts should share with the one who has none, and anyone who has food should do the same.” (Luke 3:11, NIV) but does Jesus believe the same? Lets look at the Sermon on the Mount:
“20 Looking at his disciples, he said:
“Blessed are you who are poor,
for yours is the kingdom of God.
21 Blessed are you who hunger now,
for you will be satisfied.
Blessed are you who weep now,
for you will laugh.
22 Blessed are you when people hate you,
when they exclude you and insult you
and reject your name as evil,
because of the Son of Man.
23 “Rejoice in that day and leap for joy, because great is your reward in heaven. For that is how their ancestors treated the prophets.
24 “But woe to you who are rich,
for you have already received your comfort.
25 Woe to you who are well fed now,
for you will go hungry.
Woe to you who laugh now,
for you will mourn and weep.
26 Woe to you when everyone speaks well of you,
for that is how their ancestors treated the false prophets.
27 “But to you who are listening I say: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, 28 bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. 29 If someone slaps you on one cheek, turn to them the other also. If someone takes your coat, do not withhold your shirt from them. 30 Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back. 31 Do to others as you would have them do to you.“ (Luke 6 20:31)
I’ve highlighted in bold the bits I find relevant. In the sermon you quite clearly see that it is the poor, the hungry and the broken that are blessed by Jesus and that we are all called to love those that hate us, and give freely to those that ask of you. This is also seen in Luke chapter 10 where Jesus tells the parable of the Samaritan:
“25 On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?”
26 “What is written in the Law?” he replied. “How do you read it?”
28 “You have answered correctly,” Jesus replied. “Do this and you will live.”
29 But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”
30 In reply Jesus said: “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he was attacked by robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. 31 A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. 32 So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. 33 But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. 34 He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, brought him to an inn and took care of him. 35 The next day he took out two denarii[e] and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.’
36 “Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?”
37 The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.”
Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.”
Again, the bold highlights are my focus points but its pretty similar with the last passage this clearly shows that after loving God we are meant to love and have mercy on each other. I could go on and on drowning you in passages to support the simple truth that Jesus believed that giving to those that need it is not a would be nice, its one of the founding principles of the Christian faith. Mercy is a required trait for the kingdom. So if you have faith in Jesus then surely you should try your best to reflect this truth for as James wrote:
14 What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them? 15 Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. 16 If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? 17 In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.
18 But someone will say, “You have faith; I have deeds.”
Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by my deeds. 19 You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that—and shudder.
It’s a tough thing to live by and no one gets it completely right but if you don’t actively try then what are you doing?
That’s all well and good. What has this to do with British Politics or independence
At the advent of the Welfare state when William Beveridge set out to forever destroy the 5 great evils of Squalor, Ignorance, Want, Idleness and Disease. The then Archbishop of Canterbury, William Temple, rightly stated that this was “the first time anyone had set out to embody the whole spirit of the Christian ethic in an Act of Parliament”. He was totally spot on. Without lifting a finger every working person in the country was funding a welfare system that would see children fed and educated, ensuring that the weak, hungry and broken would be cared for in whatever way they required from the cradle to the grave.
That was over 50 years ago, so our society must be cool right? I’ll just leave this here.
In 2014 the welfare state is a hollowed out carcass. No longer driven by the need to protect those who cannot protect themselves it instead worries about meeting sanction quotas and removing people from the benefits by any means necessary. This isn’t just targeted at the unemployed. The Disability Living Allowance assessor ATOS get a bonus for every knock back regardless of whether the case is later won by the claimant at appeal. Sick people are claimed to be liars if they say they are capable of walking from their bed to the toilet because according to ATOS guidelines if you can do so, you can walk 400 meters and therefore can work. The systems in place are literally killing people.
If you have no experience with the assessment system please feel free to watch these videos. I can personally vouch for the accuracy, especially of the following video. A word of warning however. The following video is harrowing, it breaks me to watch it and if you have any issues with mental health it could be triggering so if that applies to you please skip over it.
Now some of you might be of the opinion that the government needs to protect public money from thieves however I put it to you they are looking in completely the wrong place.
This is the political reality we find ourselves in Britain today. Both the Conservatives and Labour parties want to be ‘harder’ on people claiming benefits while their corporate pals pocket millions in money through tax loop holes. The people on benefits are neither lazy not cheats, they are just desperate people in a desperate situation. We all need to have mercy on them.
You might think that we need to work from within the current system but Westminster has proven time and again that it is incapable or unwilling to change. After a no vote all indicators point to a worse future.
Going back once again to that story of Big Jim I hope you (and he if he reads this!) why I find the idea of voting no so at odds with the Christian faith. With a Yes vote in the referendum we can completely shake up the political fugue that has taken a hold of Britain. All the signs point to us voting in a Scottish Government who will enshrine in a written Scottish constitution those Christian values of common decency and mercy. You don’t even need to give away your second shirt, just pop an X next to Yes.
This isn’t the only reason for a Christian to vote yes, but I feel it is the most pressing reason for everyone to consider. If you would like to know more about Scotland’s constitution you should check out the Commonweal proposal for the constitution and also the draft constitution written by the SNP to be a stand in until the people of Scotland draft their first constitution under the first independent government.