Northern Ireland news

Voters urged to consider Scripture rather than political loyalties

People should weigh their vote against the Bible's teaching, the Rev Dr Norman Hamilton told the Presbyterian General Assembly. Picture by Mal McCann

CHRISTIANS should consider what the Bible says before voting for particular candidates and parties, the Presbyterian General Assembly heard yesterday.

In remarks which reflected what he described as angst at the dysfunctional and mean-spirited nature of Northern Ireland politics, the Rev Dr Norman Hamilton challenged voters over how carefully they decided where to cast their votes.

"The elected representatives about whom there is so much disappointment and frustration were given their responsibilities by hundreds of thousands of ordinary people including those of us here in this assembly," he said.

"When we all went to the polling stations and cast our votes, or decided to abstain, what were the key matters that influenced us most?

"Fear of the others? Long-term and ongoing loyalty to a political party? What we read in the papers or heard on radio? The pressures of comment on social media? Disillusionment?"

Dr Hamilton, a former moderator, was presenting the report of the Church's Council for Public Affairs to the assembly, which is the denomination's annual meeting of lay people and clergy from across Ireland.

"My question is this," he said. "How many of us here this afternoon actually read the party manifestos? Actually considered what was being offered?"

He challenged Christians to "take the Scriptures seriously" to help create "a different place to where we are now".

"I suggest that this means, amongst other things, that when I go to the polling station, I am to vote in accordance with my best understanding of what the Scriptures say about what and who is being offered to me in the election," he said.

Society as a whole has suffered because "we seem to be building a politics that is almost devoid of consistent Christian or gospel values", said Dr Hamilton.

"It is clear to me that we are in an environment where we worship the ever-changing God of personal choice and political preference, and where the Biblical commitment to the common good with shared national and community values has almost disappeared.

"This is one of the core reasons why the so called 'progressive' politics of abortion and assisted dying or euthanasia are so deeply disturbing."

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