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  Rector Writes       “If it made a difference they wouldn’t let us vote”, so said Mark Twain.  As I compose this letter we are, again, to face the polls in another election.  What a way to start our summer hols! You could be forgiven for admitting to a certain cynicism as you contemplate the ballot box choices.  However, what can be said about the Christian response to the political process?  The scriptures are replete with examples, from the Old Testament to the New, of the faithful battling with over-bearing kings all the way to suppression under the yoke of the Roman Empire.  The political situation was part and parcel of both the ancient Jews and the fledgling New Testament Church.  Jesus was perfectly content that we ought to “render unto Caesar that which belongs to Caesar”.  St. Paul did not advocate that the followers of the way ought to opt out of civil society and head for the hills.  On the contrary, he urged the fledgling churches to support the local magistrates.  Political parties and politicians are therefore not beyond our critical eye from a spiritual point of view.  ‘Sin’ is not a word that people would normally think of when discussing the political process but I have been attending the excellent lectures delivered by Canon Scott Robertson on the subject of sin.  He reminded the audience of the reality of what is termed “structural sin”.  Sin is not just an issue that affects the individual, so to speak, but can be displayed by groups, organisations and indeed countries.   I suppose the most extreme example of this process was Nazi Germany where the political process attempted to impose upon a whole nation a specific set of cultural, social and political norms that led to the disaster of the Second World War and the holocaust. I am therefore of the view that we have a duty, as socially and politically informed Christians, to examine the policies and aspirations of the political parties and search out their plans for all those you regard as “disadvantaged”.  The ancient people of Israel were constantly bombarded by the prophets regarding their failure to protect the ‘widow and the orphan’.  Nothing has changed over the millennia. The downtrodden of our contemporary society cry out for assistance. What do the political parties say on the subject?   I do not have the space to examine the policies of the parties nor would it be appropriate as I would be straying into the territory of being ‘party political’ and a Rector needs to remain neutral in sharing these issues with a congregation.  That does not mean to say that as an individual I have not thought about and prayed about these issues - of course I have, and I invite you to do so before you cast your vote.     The Rector