Why would a Christian join the Green Party?
Yesterday I joined the Green Party. I said a bit about my journey from political indifference to to political ... difference (?). Today I want to say a bit more about why I chose the Green Party.
There are Christians in all the major parties (see the resources at SUSA). I see this as a good thing, and I can see many positive features in the other parties. But for me, the core values of the Green Party resonated particularly strongly with my Christian beliefs, as I'll show below.
But first, here are a couple of other Christians who explain their own involvement in the Green Party:
- Stephen Gray has a post on why he joined the Green Party. It's a very good post so go and read it now. Welcome back.
- Andrew Basden describes his own spiritual journey into Green things, and has written plenty about the topic.
In what remains, I'll quote the core values of the Green Party in full, interspersed with my comments.
Our core values
Green politics is a new and radical kind of politics guided by these core principles:
1. Humankind depends on the diversity of the natural world for its existence. We do not believe that other species are expendable.
Absolutely. But Christianity takes this even further: part of the purpose of humanity is to care for the natural world.
2. The Earth's physical resources are finite. We threaten our future if we try to live beyond those means, so we must build a sustainable society that guarantees our long-term future.
3. Every person, in this and future generations, should be entitled to basic material security as of right.
4. Our actions should take account of the well-being of other nations, other species, and future generations. We should not pursue our well-being to the detriment of theirs.
These chime very strongly with the central Christian value of love for one's neighbour. And this is something that is not limited to the people living next door: my actions have direct effects on the other side of the world, and for generations to come.
My only quibble with point 4 is that it reads as though we should not pursue our well-being to the detriment of the well-being of other species, which could lead to some extreme interpretations (it might well be detrimental to the well-being of the ant species if we destroy one of their nests to improve access to a hospital, for example).
5. A healthy society is based on voluntary co-operation between empowered individuals in a democratic society, free from discrimination whether based on race, colour, gender, sexual orientation, religion, social origin or any other prejudice.
This point sounds very nice, but it's difficult to know exactly what it is saying. I would say that democracy is my preferred means for a state's politicians to be selected, that it is nice when people get on with each other, and that the law should ensure that—except when it is directly justifiable—people are not treated detrimentally because of any characteristic (or prejudice!) they may possess.
6. We emphasise democratic participation and accountability by ensuring that decisions are taken at the closest practical level to those affected by them.
Believing in the importance of meaningful relationships (flowing ultimately from the relationships between the Father, Son and Holy Spirit), I very much agree with this.
7. We look for non-violent solutions to conflict situations, which take into account the interests of minorities and future generations in order to achieve lasting settlements.
Seeing mass-armament as one of the greatest evils on the planet (and the pernicious arms trade at the heart of that), I'm in strong agreement with this.
8. The success of a society cannot be measured by narrow economic indicators, but should take account of factors affecting the quality of life for all people: personal freedom, social equity, health, happiness and human fulfilment.
As above, on relationships.
9. Electoral politics is not the only way to achieve change in society, and we will use a variety of methods to help effect change, providing those methods do not conflict with our other core principles.
This is a very important point. I see a political party as an engine for change in society, focusing on, but not limited to, the work of elected politicians. The state is but one part of society, and there are many, many things that do not fall within the remit of the state. However, a political party can have a coherent vision for society, encompassing what the state should do (in terms of making laws and enforcing justice) and what individuals should do (in their economic activity, for example). How this works in practice, I'm not yet sure.
10. The Green Party puts changes in both values and lifestyles at the heart of the radical green agenda.
As above, I strongly agree with this: the green agenda cannot (and absolutely should not) be enacted by a green dictatorship, however democratically elected. You and I need to be the driving force, and Christianity strongly emphasises the need for a deep change of heart and attitudes.
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