Why I Voted Green

I really don’t like all the secrecy that surrounds our political choices. It seems that to ask someone how they voted is like asking them how often they have sex and how they do it. I have had a few open conversations around politics, but I’m also concious that many people are quite guarded on the topic. (I probably won’t be so open about sex 🙂 )

Unfortunately as a church community we have been busy with some other pressing stuff these last few weeks and haven’t had time to address the election question at all, otherwise I would love to have spent some time as a community asking the question ‘how do we decide how to vote?’

The last time I did this I realised just how little thought anyone had given to the question – in fact simply letting people know it was the topic for discussion raised audible groans. I think many people consign their vote to the too hard basket or they simply vote as they have always done. (Or perhaps I am just speaking for myself and my own sloppy approaches.) I would have liked to have some open discussion as a church community around ‘how we decide’ and why we vote the way we do, but it wasn’t to be. Maybe next time…

As we approached this election I don’t think anyone was inspired by what was on offer and it became a very tough call to make a decision to actually vote for anyone.

I found myself totally uninspired by the two major parties. If push came to shove I would have chosen labour, but given the way Kevin Rudd got shafted I couldn’t with any conscience give my vote to that crew. I dunno how long Julia will last if she gets in either. I guess it all depends on what the back room bullies who really run the country want to happen…

The Libs really played the ‘boat people’ card really hard and cashed in on the fear factor. I do think we need sensible policies, but Abbott’s ‘stop the boats’ mantra reminded me of a ‘f*ck off we’re full’ sticker but in slightly better clothes. The garb might be nicer but its still ugly at core. Apart from the budgie smugglers which are enough to make anyone vote for a silly party, I was generally cringing every time I saw Abbott turn up at a sporting club, as the man has the most terrible gross motor skills and only made himself look a goose. Despite what Peter Costello may think of Abbott’s economic skills, I do tend to think his mob would be better financial managers of the country and if the economy was my primary concern then I guess I’d see past bad swim wear, xeno/homophobia and poor sporting ability to give them a vote. Of course I’d love to see Abbott get in and then resurrect Costello as his treasurer just so we could say we have a legit Abbott and Costello show…

Then there are the Christian parties and perhaps you ask ‘why wouldn’t I vote for them?’ Well I imagine we do share many similar positions, but I’m not convinced that trying to Christianise a country is actually of benefit in the long run. I don’t believe we should be legislating for a Christian way of life. God doesn’t ever force his way on us and and I think we can learn from that. I am convinced the most profound way to influence society with the gospel is to live it – to live counter-cultural Jesus centred lives that make absolutely no sense to anyone unless there is a God. We could get into separation of church and state but that is a bit more than I have time for here on…

So I finished up voting Green, and it wasn’t a protest vote. My reasons are below:

– If I had been really diligent I would have compiled a grid / table of the things that I believe matter most to God/Jesus as we read in scripture and then lined up every party alongside those issues to see how they stack up. I guess I did that mentally and saw the Greens performing much better on issues of caring for the poor, overseas aid, the environment and refugees than any other group. The issues of justice and environment (which of course is also an issue of justice if you live in a developing world country) seem to be primary ones for Jesus and on these the Greens score well. The Micah Challenge overseas aid ‘scorecard’ saw them top the class in all areas and that was impressive.

– Secondly I voted for the Greens because they seemed a bit more visionary than the other parties. I think some of their goals seem unattainable, but I like they have them on the radar. Much better to aim high and hit low than start low and stay there.

– I also liked the Greens forthrightness on issues where we would disagree. They have been portrayed as anti-Christian when in fact I think they simply are pro-secular. I realise that does mean they won’t be supporting Christian initiatives, but the stuff on which we disagree matters less to me than the stuff on which I see them doing well in. I think Jesus was much more concerned for matters of justice than for who our sexual partners are. I think we have enjoyed some great privileges as Christians at the moment, but they are not our right in a secular society and the playing field may change, but maybe it needs to.

I don’t vote unreservedly for the Greens as I don’t share their views on bioethics, sexuality and a few other things, but then I can’t vote unreservedly for anyone. Such is the state we find ourselves in…

They say you get the leadership you deserve and ironically the issues the Greens do well on are things that really ought to have been issues ‘Christian’ parties should have seen as primary a long time ago, because they rate so highly on God’s agenda. I get the impression that if the Christian parties really wanted to shape the future of Australia then they would have been wiser to base their policies around these issues of justice, environment, and care for others and create a vision for a better Australia that way. It would have been true to scripture and interestingly would have scratched right where many Aussies are itching.

We had our chance…

I realise a vote for the Greens is a vote for Labour and I can live with that. I don’t lose sleep that our PM may be an an atheist in a de facto relationship. I don’t lose sleep that Bob Brown is gay. I don’t know anything of Tony Abbot’s personal life but I’m sure if we scratched around we’d find plenty of dirt to hang on him (as we would with any of us)

So that’s why I voted Green this time around. In a sense it was like doing a multiple choice test and eliminating all other options so you are left with the most probable answer.

What I would add is that the political question is a complex and multi-faceted issue and I would happily respect the views of people who voted differently – however it seems that Christians who vote Green are often not accorded that same respect by their brothers and sisters. For the CDP to label the Greens ‘anti-Christian’ is rather lacking in perspective I would suggest, and may even be tapping into the ‘fear factor’ that motivates some Christians.

So I write this post partly because I want to give another voice to those who follow Jesus and see the world a little differently and partly because I think we can offer some very valid reasons for doing so. I don’t believe Christian Green voters should have to hide in the closet and be embarrassed by their choice. Nor should they be vilified for it.

I’m hoping this post won’t be me hanging my chin out there and giving you a free swing – because that’s not the goal. But feel free to disagree in a spirit of respect and grace and I’m sure we could have a great conversation.

19 thoughts on “Why I Voted Green

  1. My wife took some big flack from so called christian “friends” for expressing her plan to vote green.

    What bothered us both about this was not that they disagreed with us but the vitriol and rudeness with which they expressed it.

    I’m a firm Green voter (not that I would not change if I believed it was justified), while my wife only went this way after taking the time to read the policies of both majors and the greens and CDP.

    This is a great post from 2004 on “Voting Christianly”


    In short:

    A) How not to vote

    1. Precedent: ‘how we always vote’

    2. Christian favouritism

    3. Economic prosperity

    B) How to vote

    1. Vote for others

    2. Vote for the moral health of the community

    3. Vote for the poor and weak

    4. Vote for the gospel

    5. Vote prayerfully

  2. Excellent article. Well approached and good clarity. I’m not Christian and have no faith but read your thoughts with interest. I wish also I could have this conversation but was brought up with the ‘Sport, Religion & Politics is Taboo’ ethic. I can empathize with the Sex metaphor you opened with.
    I voted Green for the first time. I’m traditionally a swing voter voting for who promotes the best Federal Education policies. This time it was because the Green have good policies and slung less mud. I didn’t know BB was gay and it dosent bother me. I guess I protest voted because neither major party offered vision and clarity or I guess conviction.
    Thank you for you thoughts. Generally I won’t read past three or four paragraphs however you have an enjoyable style of prose and I like your honesty. Thanks for sharing.
    Steve – Balmoral, Lake Macquarie.

  3. That was a really great post, Hamo.

    Straight up, I’ll say that I voted Liberal. However, I was having a chat with my father-in-law today, and I was saying that on a number of issues I felt that the Greens were closer to the Kingdom than the major parties when it comes to issues of compassion. But I didn’t vote for them ‘cos I had read some stuff about the Greens limiting the opening up of new land developments, which could add upward pressure on house prices, and that was a major concern for me (as I am concerned that higher property prices could further extend the distance between the haves and the have-nots … if it is not too great already).

    Having said that, if I’d read your post prior to voting yesterday I would have considered them a little more carefully. As it is, I’ll wait and see how the Greenies perform over the next 3 years.

  4. “They have been portrayed as anti-Christian when in fact I think they simply are pro-secular. I realise that does mean they won’t be supporting Christian initiatives, but the stuff on which we disagree matters less to me than the stuff on which I see them doing well in.”

    If you don’t believe the Lordship of Christ is needed for charitable initiatives or if you believe that chaplaincy doesn’t need Christ at its core, then maybe the gospel isn’t as socially-orientated as you say you believe it is.

  5. “They have been portrayed as anti-Christian when in fact I think they simply are pro-secular. I realise that does mean they won’t be supporting Christian initiatives, but the stuff on which we disagree matters less to me than the stuff on which I see them doing well in.”

    If you don’t believe the Lordship of Christ is needed within social initiatives or if you think chaplaincy doesn’t need disciples of Jesus then I would suggest the gospel you profess isn’t a “social gospel”.

  6. Hi folks

    Interesting Darryl – not an easy choice

    Steve – appreciate the comment!

    Lance – I am not an ardent Green by any stretch, but I reckon it might be interesting if some Christians joined the Greens and worked with them towards goals that (in places) sound very Jesus-like. I’m afraid you lost me with your comment though.

  7. I’ve never understood why talking politics is taboo. Surely it is one of the few important areas that deserves open discussion – like sexuality.

    Since we have been out of the country for several years now, we are no longer on the electoral role (different topic for debate), I took a good deal of interest in the election this year from afar. I must say that I would have voted as you did Hamo.

    There is enough fear in the world I don’t have room for any more. While I wont show up at any RaRa events for the Greens – give me any plan that looks toward a hopeful, inclusive and sustainable future and I think we have a pretty good start. They just have to learn now how to negotiate.

  8. Ben, that was a great article about Lin Hatfield Dodds. Oh, and the comments following the article were a good read, too!

  9. Hamo,

    I am curious where you think murdering unborn children (made in the image of God) fits into “God’s priorities”.

    Genesis 9:6

    Whoever sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed; for in the image of God has God made man

    Exodus 20:13

    You shall not commit murder

  10. “I’m not convinced that trying to Christianise a country is actually of benefit in the long run.”

    Hamo – I’m not sure that is the goal of groups like the CDP, Family First, etc. They’re not trying to set up a theocracy, if that’s what you mean. But they are trying to take a stance and display values based on a Christian worldview.

    Every political party takes their stance based on some world view. Attempting to divorce ones actions from the convictions one holds is impossible. This goes for the Greens, too. From what worldview do their values (their negatives and positives) proceed?

    “I don’t believe we should be legislating for a Christian way of life.”

    Is that what those political parties are doing? In that case are not the Greens legislating for an anti God way of life? “Pro secular” is not a neutral stance. There are no neutral stances. Plus, their views on things like abortion, gay marriage, etc. are clearly not neutral views.

    My confused two cents.

    Thanks Hamo.

  11. Hi Kelly – I think the killing of unborn children is something that breaks God’s heart. I don’t think there is any question about that. Its wrong.

    I think the deaths of live children from preventable diseases in other parts of the worlds (which as you would probably know occurs more regularly than abortion) also breaks his heart.

    So there is no easy choice there, but I went for the decision to support those who give the most aid to those who are doing it tough.

    I would prefer to give a vote to those who do both.



  12. I’m with you Hamo. I too voted green for similar reasons but have voted both lib and lab in the past. I was actually hoping for a hung parliament so I’m stoked!

    There is so much fear mongering around christian circles, which is really strange… I guess we’re more wedded to ideas of comfort and economic security than to christ’s concerns.

    an interesting question we considered in a family discussion was as follows:

    “As a christian, would you vote for an atheist who cares for the poor and is an active peacemaker, or for a person who claims christ but starts wars and has no compassion?”

    It’s a tricky question in some ways but incredibly easy in others. If I recall, Jesus told a story about two brother whose father asked to help him in the vineyard – one said yes, but didn’t follow through; the other said no but actually then went and did so. Jesus was clear about his thoughts on that and the story seems particularly apt here.

    In the end it is as you say, a balancing act and as a christian we should always feel compromised – if only more christians would acknowledge that.

    Thanks for the post.

  13. Thanks Dave – like you I am more of a swinger than a green, but living in the grey and accepting that there is no perfect solution is critical if we are to make good decisions.

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