Christians argue over Jesus’ politics

By Sasjkia Otto

Jesus would probably not vote Labour because of its policies on Iraq and Trident, a prominent religious commentator has said.

Jonathan Bartley, founder of Christian think tank Ekklesia, has joined the debate amongst Christians about which party Jesus would favour.

Mr Bartley made this claim in response to a blog by Andy Flanagan, director of the Christian socialist movement, which outlined 10 reasons Jesus might vote Labour.

Mr Bartley gave his own 10 reasons suggesting the contrary in his blog on the Ekklesia website. He said: “Jesus’ teachings about peacemaking, love of enemies, and turning the other cheek cannot be easily squared with the invasion of Iraq or Afghanistan. with underwriting the commercial arms trade, maintaining nuclear weapons or renewing/replacing Trident.”

Mr Bartley added: “Jesus cannot be co-opted, most notably in the way that the church has been for centuries, for the cause of politicians.”

Ekklesia is an independent not-for-profit think-tank which examines the role of religion in public life and advocates theological ideas.

Mr Bartley, whose son uses a wheelchair, confronted David Cameron on television earlier this week over Conservative plans to “end the bias towards the inclusion of children with special needs in mainstream schools”.

Mr Flanagan wrote in his blog Jesus might favour Labour’s policies on equality and the “common good”.

He said Jesus would not approve of trickle-down economics. “Evidence of God’s opinion on the subject is there throughout the Bible where for example, the concept of Jubilee is necessary,” he said.

“God affirms wealth creation, but recognises that in our innate selfishness, the rich will become richer and the poor poorer unless there is a regular ‘re-calibration’.

“Every 50 years land is handed back to its original owners. Fields are left unharvested at the edges to allow those in poverty the dignity of working for themselves and survival.”

He also said Jesus would support working people. “The Labour tradition believes that no-one is beyond help, and that the dignity of work should be available for all those who are able,” he said.