Lection Connection - Spirit Sightings

December 8, 2019: Choose a Better Way

From Fraser Macnaughton

 

The run up to the forthcoming general election in the UK has thrown up a series of instances where candidates from several different parties have been injudicious, to put it mildly, in their social media comments, which has resulted in their de-selection as candidates. 

In what has become a febrile atmosphere, parties seem to try to outdo one another in terms of appealing to some perceived populist views, which by definition seem to target a variety of minority groups and demonise them.

Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis, backed by the Archbishop of Canterbury, has unusually intervened in an election by calling out the Labour Party and their record of anti-Semitism. Several MPs have left the party over the issue, including some Jewish parliamentarians over the party’s tardiness in doing appropriate investigations into many allegations. 

Mirvis, the head of the Jewish community in the UK, was reluctant to involve himself in politics ahead of the election, but felt compelled to break with convention. “Many members of the Jewish community can hardly believe that this is the same party that they called their political home for more than a century,” he wrote. “It can no longer claim to be the party of equality and anti-racism. He was backed up by Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury, who while acknowledging the Christian church’s history of anti-Semitism, warned against complacency in dealing with positive action.

Meanwhile in the Conservative Party, former party chair Baroness Warsi has said that the “poison” of Islamophobia is “very widespread” in the Conservative Party, but is being “ignored” by Tory leaders. She has claimed that some of the local campaigns in some constituencies had included anti-Muslim messages. Members of the Muslim Council of Britain have for many years been fearful of the threats of Islamophobia, an issue they perceive as being particularly acute in the Conservative party, who have approached Islamophobia with denial, dismissal, and deceit. In one notorious example, Prime Minister Boris Johnston referred to veiled Muslim women being dressed as “letter boxes” and said that those who wear the niqab look like “bank robbers.” Evidence suggests a rise in attacks on Muslims in the wake of such comments. MP David Lammy accused Johnston of “fanning the flames of Islamophobia to propel his grubby electoral ambitions”.

One of the main thrusts of all parties at election times is the pitch to “Choose a better way.” Manifestos are laid out offering people a better way of governance, invariably laced with flowery language promising the earth at no extra cost to the electorate. One question all voters must decide is whether “choosing a better way” is an empty slogan given the behaviour of some prospective candidates. 

 

Explore…Isaiah 11:1–10

  • It is often said that trust in politicians is at an all-time low. Is that something you would agree with and, if so, how can trust in political systems be restored?
  • What steps does your faith community take to ensure racist, sexist, or homophobic attitudes are addressed appropriately?
  • In what ways can your faith group promote Shalom in your local community?
  • How do you feel about the interface of faith/religion and politics?

 

Prayer…
Jesus exhorted his followers to be in the world, but not of the world. This is about his invitation to us to choose a better way. May we have the fortitude and courage to persevere in our search for a better way in the face of the forces of hatred and division.

 

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