Why I'm a Christian voting Liberal Democrat in June
What a time we're living in! Our present political climate is one that the history books are going to swoon over. And that was the case without a snap general election being called.
Theresa May's announcement has taken us all by surprise. Suddenly we political staff are faced with seven weeks of sleepless nights and campaign-trail blisters. But it gives us an incredible opportunity to have our say about the direction the country is taking.
Liberal Democrat Headquarters cheered with excitement just after 11 o'clock yesterday when Theresa May made her speech on the steps of Downing Street. After gaining more council seats than any other party in by-elections across the UK since the 2015 general election, and winning the Richmond Park parliamentary by-election, the Lib Dems are straight out of the starting blocks into this campaign.
I joined the party just before the 2015 election after already campaigning for them and working with a couple of their MPs in their constituency offices. My biggest draw to the party was from my experience of those I met in it and all that they did. Local campaigners, MPs, councillors and peers all had an astounding commitment to the people in their constituencies, people in Britain as a whole and, in fact, all across the world.
Their commitment wasn't dependent on who the individual was, their background, social status, beliefs or anything else. They weren't tribal about it, they just got on and spent all their time fighting for justice. From blocking the incorrect deportation of vulnerable asylum seekers, to pushing local authorities to house families who desperately needed a home and enshrining in law the commitment to spending 0.7 per cent of GDP on overseas aid. The Lib Dems did then and do now live and breathe their passion for everyone to have equal opportunities in life.
They offer a new direction for Britain. One that captures the views and hopes for our country that are inspired by my faith.
The Lib Dems have a vision for a country where people are free from poverty, free to develop talents to the full and free for everyone to be themselves. As a Christian, my concept of freedom comes from the freedom we find in Jesus. The Bible talks about freedom from sin, freedom from fear and freedom from oppression so that people can live life to its fullest.
The Lib Dems strive towards this same kind of freedom by removing all the worldly barriers that prevent people developing their talents to the full and grasping the opportunities that lie before them. This freedom is rooted in and based on equality. Equality of rights and opportunities, rejecting prejudice and discrimination and opposing entrenched privilege and inequality – treating every human as equal as they have all been created.
With freedom and equality for all people, the Lib Dems want to build a community where everyone has a voice, where people feel they belong and where people are empowered. We have a vision for a community where there is openness to the world, international in outlook and not cutting ourselves off from our neighbours through the Brexit process.
The election on June 8 gives everyone the opportunity to change the direction of the country. I'm voting Lib Dem to do just that.
As well as being a huge opportunity for the country, though, we should keep in the mind the opportunity it presents us, as Christians, to be God's salt and light. As the election campaigns get going, politics will become suddenly more tangible and present in our lives. As is does, we can 'do' politics differently: disagreeing well with each other and always looking outwards with compassion and love to others. So, whoever you're voting for, let's stand united in doing so. Three of us – Gareth Wallace from the Conservative Christian Forum, Andy Flanagan from Christians on the Left, and me – tried it, and here's what it looks like.
Sarah Dickson is director of the Liberal Democrat Christian Forum. This article is the first in a series from the Christian groupings in major political parties.