You can’t reform politics without re-examining the values on which you are going to base your work. And politics is compromise so if you’re going to work with allies you need to agree a reasonable overlap of values to which you all assent. What values would an informed Christian conscience include? Surely, at the least:
1. Ask, “How much is enough?”. What should be the ratio of CEO salary to the average worker’s (in the public, private and voluntary sectors)? Even if we don’t put an exact number on it let’s allow this to be a topic of conversation in polite society.
2. “It is more blessed to give than to receive.” We’ve become obsessed by how much we should receive. Our national well-being would improve with some thoughtful giving – from targeted social welfare through to fulfilling our international aid obligations.
3. Guard human dignity. Policy-making should enshrine the best of measures to protect those whose dignity is most at risk.
4. Practice authenticity. This may be the value that the public craves the most. They want leaders who lead by example (like Jesus did) – and who can blame them. Authenticity is first forged in the crucible of private life. It requires personal commitment from a leader and also an understanding of forgiveness.
Historically our country has looked to denominational advice as to what an “informed Christian conscience” should look like. That is no longer flavour of the month. But now we will make a bigger mistake if we say goodbye to bath-water, baby and all without stopping to reflect on the teaching of the original Moral Compass from Nazareth.
Just now we have an embarrassment of riches in the form of a young population imbued with a sense of justice and whose capacity for imagination, which has been incubated for centuries, deserves to be rewarded. Now’s the time to inspire them with the best values a country can own.