It’s hard to find a unionist who is anti abortion, gay marriage and fully anti paramilitary
In preparation for the upcoming election on 2 March the media have given a voice to the views of all those who are seeking election. They have however given little voice to the largest section of the voting populace – the non voters.
Voices have been expressed in the press from individuals, and groups like Caleb, “urg(ing) evangelical Christians to vote for those candidates who will make the honour of God their priority”. They site the danger of amending the abortion legalisation and the prospect of legalising same sex marriage.
The Religion Correspondent of the Belfast Telegraph (25 Feb), Alf McCreary, rightly reminds us that there is much more to Christian values than both abortion and same sex marriage, and admits that he will vote “with a heavy heart”.
The Moderator , Dr. Frank Sellar, urges Presbyterians to “approach the upcoming election prayerfully and to vote. . . “
Christians, who are pro-union, with an enlightened conscience – that is a conscience enlightened by the Word of God – are facing a dilemma in this forthcoming election. They want to honour their responsibility and vote and also honour God in their choice of candidate.
For many from the Unionist tradition, the dilemma is stark! Their enlightened Christian conscience has been challenged in recent years not just by issues of abortion and same sex marriage, but by the association of unionism with paramilitaries. To coin a phrase, “feeding the crocodile” of paramilitaryism, under the guise of ‘community workers’. This does not sit well the enlightened Christian conscience.
It is for many difficult to find a unionist party or individual who, not only opposes new abortion legislation and same sex marriage, but also has no truck whatsoever with paramilitaries. In the past they have ‘held their nose’ and voted negatively, to ‘keep the others out’, but many are tired of this.
How does the enlightened Christian conscience of the pro-union voter cope with this dilemma? As the voting paper does not allow one to vote for ‘none of the above’, some will exercise their responsibility by spoiling their ballot paper. Others will no doubt be joining the largest section of the populace – the non voters.
Brian Kennaway (Rev)
Retired Presbyterian Minister
This letter appeared in the Belfast Newsletter on 27 February 2017 and an edited version in the Belfast Telegraph on 1 March 2017.