Tuesday 27 November 2007

So which one was God's party? Any post-election lessons?

Australia has just voted in its federal election and the government of 11 years led by John Howard has been defeated and Kevin Rudd is the new Prime Minister. I was 'over' the election by the time it came and was glad that Australians finally had a chance to cast their votes. I'm a very interested citizen in politics but I have to say that I was weary from political advertising overload, from dissecting policies, listening to media reports and debating the same issues - call it campaign fatigue! I felt that we had the opportunity to be informed and I was ready to vote. And as a Christian I felt that we had political parties that were offering a choice. I don't buy the argument that the major parties were the same - there were some key differences. It was also helpful to have some new tools designed to help negotiate the policy maze and unpack the differences. The most useful was that offered by the Australian Christian Lobby (ACL) that I described in a previous post. One of the most helpful bits of this site was that it showed me how my local member had voted on legislation that is important to me. But the frustration above all frustrations that seems to be part of every election, is that some of my fellow Christians pedal three simplistic false assumptions EVERY time!

1. That if you're a Christian you'd better vote for Christians because no-one else will.
2. That if you're a Christian that the Christian Democrats are the party that we should vote for because of its stand on a number of critical moral issues; and a sub-theme that there is a limited set of moral issues or values that should concern me.
3. That if you are choosing to vote for one of the two major parties to have your say about the government in the lower house then you need to vote Coalition because no right thinking Bible believing Christian would vote Labor.

I don't want to bore readers of this Blog by examining each of these assumptions but I feel compelled to comment in general terms. I struggled to vote for the CDP. Why? Because I have never been able to trust the policy platform of the party and the accuracy of its policy analysis. Yes, I do agree with its stand on specific moral issues and can stand with them on many of the values that are explicitly outlined (e.g. opposition to the creation and destruction of embryos for research, opposition to same sex marriages, opposing adoption for same sex couples, opposing euthanasia and abortion etc). But there always seems an intellectual dishonesty about the way the party defines its key values, the values it doesn't concern itself with, and the way its members denigrate other politicians and parties based on their assessment. As well, many of the issues on the checklist assume only one Christian position and I believe that for some of the issues they outline there are different positions that are possible (e.g. in relation to school vouchers, vilification laws etc).

In 1998 I was horrified to see the CDP preference Pauline Hanson above the local Labor party candidate in my electorate. Given Pauline Hanson's policies at the time it was difficult to see how this could be justified as a Christian. I was appalled in the current campaign to hear a CDP supporter talking about God's blessing on Australian being withdrawn if Kevin Rudd was elected Prime Minister of Australia. Why, they were asked? Because John Howard is a Christian and Kevin Rudd is not. I haven't spoken to John Howard about his faith but I am confident that Kevin Rudd has a genuine and sincere faith in Christ based on the words from his own mouth when he visited New College in 2005 and the testimony of others who know him well, including some politicians on the other side of the house. I won't say much about the failure to understand the sovereignty of God in assuming that God is somehow powerless to work through a Labor government. God's word teaches us that "The king's heart is in the hand of the LORD; he directs it like a watercourse wherever he pleases (Proverbs 21:1)".

The latest CDP analysis of 27 moral issues prior to the recent election is yet another example of how selective choices of moral issues and selective assessments of party policies leads to misleading guidance for Christians on how to vote. It seems that The Rev Canon Sandy Grant from St Michael’s Pro-Cathedral Wollongong is just as annoyed as I am. In his assessment of the regular CDP analysis of the major parties he suggests that the Australian Christian Values Checklist 2007 ‘is simplistic, reductionistic, and unbalanced’ and therefore ‘runs the danger of being sub-Christian’. While the last point is harsh I agree with the first three comments. Like Sandy I have pointed out omissions from the checklist in the past to no avail. He points out that as usual the checklist is reductionist, limiting values seen as relevant and simplifying others. I agree with these points. Could we not have asked for an analysis of the major parties' stance on:

* the care of widows and orphans;
* the homeless;
* giving aid to foreign nations in crisis;
* the right of an employee to receive fair pay and just employment conditions;
* policies on climate change and how that might impact on developing nations, especially their ability to feed their people, meet their health needs and so on;
* the treatment of aliens;
* the treatment of Indigenous Australians.

Some might also ask for an analysis of how our leaders handle the truth and how this aligns with the Scriptures. We might also consider an assessment of whether leaders can keep their promises, admit their mistakes, and lead with integrity. I could continue but others can join the dots.

At the end of all this, does it matter? Yes it does! Why? As kingdom people we are to be different, to view the world differently and to be salt and light in it. I want to make headway on the critical issues that I know CDP are committed to including abortion, stem cell research, gambling, the damage done by drugs and so on. But I don't believe that their regular checklist does justice to their cause, nor will it take us far enough. As a group of people who represent less than 5% of the population Christians are a minority in a secular society. Yes, we need to speak boldly and with conviction when necessary on issues such as the need to defend the rights of the unborn and to oppose any research that seeks to destroy or manipulate that which God has created. I applaud the Christian Democratic Party in its stance and courage in arguing for such issues. But we also need to open our eyes to the needs of the tragic deaths of children in developing countries who lack simple medication, clean water and sanitation, we need to seek justice for the alien, we need to respond with compassion to the poor. We need to be concerned that climate change has the potential to kill millions through extreme weather events. As a Bible believing Christian I know that this world is under a curse due to sin and that the pain we experience is but a symptom of a creation "groaning as in the pains of childbirth" (Rom 9:22). But I also believe that God expects me to strive to serve God earnestly all the days of life, to be a "blameless and pure (child) of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation" (Philippians 2:15). This of course is not about seeking perfection, but rather, wholehearted devotion to doing God's will. Like light in the darkness we are to shine. I believe that God meant the words he gave to the prophet Micah that what he requires of us is "To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with (our) God" (Micah 6:8b).

Our God works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will (Eph 1:11). We receive the governments that our sovereign God has ordained. Kevin Rudd is not Prime Minister by mistake. Our prayer now must be that God will work in his heart to make him the best Prime Minister that this nation has had. We must uphold him in prayer and plead with our God that he might bless this nation and pour out his Spirit upon many. Our prayer must be that God might "let justice roll on like a river, righteousness like a never-failing stream!" (Amos 5:24).

Tuesday 20 November 2007

The importance of fathers

I wrote in Case magazine earlier in the year (The Role Of Fathers: Aligning biblical wisdom and research) on how research on families and demographic trends have demonstrated a number of significant changes in families and parental practices in recent decades. The trends can be summarized under four headings:
  • Family structures are changing – e.g. there are less children in families, women are having children later in life, there are more sole parent households, there are more blended families, children stay at home longer (and many more return as adults) etc.
  • Employment structures are changing - that have an impact on families, with more parents working in multiple jobs, more women back in the workforce, many workers working longer hours, more people working from home etc.
  • Fathers and mothers have changed roles and levels of engagement as parents - While there is a trend towards some fathers spending more time caring for children, for others longer working hours have affected family life. As well, the increase in women doing paid work outside the home has led to more children in the critical first five years of life being placed in childcare.
  • Research has highlighted the critical role that fathers have - For example, fathers have a significant impact on their children’s learning and behaviour. The influence on children’s education alone (the quality of which is also correlated with many other behavioural factors) is significant, as a UK centre on fatherhood has outlined.

In a synthesis of five key UK studies Goldman (2005) concluded that higher involvement of fathers in their children’s learning alone is associated with:
  • better class and exam results;
  • higher educational expectations & qualifications;
  • better attitude to school, attendance & behaviour;
  • less delinquent & criminal behaviour;
  • higher quality family relationships; and
  • better mental health.
Other research has suggested that the influence of fathers and family structures flows well beyond children’s learning. Qu and Soriano (2004) conclude that family formation has important implications for individuals and society in relation to health and wellbeing, financial security, life outcomes for children and population growth.

Research also suggests that fathers who show affection, give support and yet offer an authoritative parenting style, have a more significant impact on their children, when compared with fathers who adopt a more authoritarian and detached style. Other evidence indicates that who the father is, and what he does in life makes a difference. For example, Goldman reports research that suggest that high levels of antisocial behaviour (eg, not paying bills, aggressiveness and so on) in fathers were associated with sons displaying more difficult behaviour at home and school.

In summary, what many research studies show is that fathers have a significant influence on the cognitive, emotional and social development of their children and that this is even more significant for boys.

What the Bible says about fathers and families?

The importance of families and the critical role of fathers are seen throughout the Bible. The concept of family is central to God’s plan for his creation and its restoration. The Bible teaches that relationships, like creation itself, were affected, disrupted and dislocated by sin in the Garden (the book of Genesis describes what happened). But God sustained his people in families and sought to restore them to their rightful place and adopt them into his own family (Paul’s letter to the Ephesians 1:4-5 talks about this). He continues to do so in spite of the curse that has been placed on family relationships as a result of sin, and the struggle that ensues between men and women (Gen 3:16). God’s plan to rescue his people ultimately involves family – his family!

Throughout the pages of the Old and New Testaments, family is important. The nation of Israel was one family, descended from Abraham. Within the nation that would rise up as a result of God’s promise to Abraham, there would be tribes defined around family lines and ultimately families within the family, all linked through fathers. Fathers are central to families in the Bible. Marriage in turn is seen as necessary to create a nuclear family – a man and woman, committed to each other in a covenant relationship, who seek to have and raise godly children (Mal 2:14-15).

Some practical implications

I can’t cover lots of implications in one post (but I might over a series of posts). There are many places I could turn to in the Bible for guidance, but there can be no better place than the advice that God gave to Moses to pass on to the Israelites in the desert before they entered the Promised Land. Having exhorted them to fear God and obey his commandments and to take care how they live (Deut 6:1-3), God gives instructions on how this is to be done within their families.

"Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house
and on your gates.”
(Deut 6:4-9)

God expected the men of Israel to obey his commandments and to love him with all of their being – heart, soul and strength. He also expected them to teach God’s commands and expectations to their children in the ‘everydayness’ of life. To talk about God when they sat together at home, when they walked from place to place, when they were preparing for bed and rest, and when they rose in the morning. They were to speak of God’s ways, to wear the words of God’s law on their foreheads (no I’m not about to suggest we re-introduce this practice that is still followed by some Jewish people), and write them on the doorposts and entrances to their houses, so that they would not forget them and so that they could teach them even more effectively to their children.

Here is a picture of a father with a right view of God, who trusts, obeys and serves his God and who seeks to teach his children to understand the wisdom of God and to follow him. This is also a picture of an involved father. If we were to translate this biblical picture into contemporary terms, we would see a father who seeks to obey and honour God, who sets a good example for his family, who models what it is to be a child of God. Such a father spends time with his children (indeed will 'waste' time with them), listens to them and shares godly wisdom at meal times, while resting, while together at home, while travelling. This is an engaged father who makes time for his family!

Wednesday 14 November 2007

The Christian and Politics

The theme for the latest edition of Case (a quarterly magazine published by CASE) is The Christian and Politics. The motivation for this themed issue is not simply the upcoming Australian Federal election. Rather, it flows from ongoing debate about the way Christians view their citizenship and the roles of government and politicians. Readers of Case and this Blog would be aware of the issues that have been raised. This is not a Case ‘how to’ on voting; rather, it is a collection of papers that present arguments concerning the way our biblical understanding should inform our political minds and actions.

In 2005 I hosted the annual New College Lectures with three speakers, the Hon John Anderson MP (Leader of the National Party and former Deputy Prime Minister to John Howard), Kevin Rudd MP (at the time shadow minister for Trade, Foreign Affairs and International security) and Dr Andrew Cameron, (Moore College Lecturer in Ethics). The theme was Church and State. All three speakers gave wonderful addresses that are available in MP3 or Pdf forms from the College website or for sale as a DVD ($5 each).

In his address Kevin Rudd (who for non-Australian readers is now the leader of the Opposition and may well be our next Prime Minister) argued that Christians need to be engaged politically with views informed by the gospel. He suggested that there are a number of possible reasons that Christian politicians offer for voting in a particular way, including “vote for me because I’m a Christian” or vote for me because this is my stance on this particular moral issue. In rejecting the legitimacy of such reasons, he suggested that Christians should understand that the gospel should challenge the way they think about the broad sweep of political and social issues that we entrust to government. Readers of this Blog will be aware that I've written on an excellent tool that might help us to do this. The Australian Christian Lobby has provided on its website an outline of the major parties' responses on 25 key policy issues.

Kevin Rudd suggested that an understanding of “….the gospel is just as much about the decisions I make about my own life as it is about how I act in society and how in turn I should act, and react, in relation to the exercise of the coordinated power of society through the state.” He went on to argue that Christians need to be concerned with issues of justice not simply single policy agendas. Rudd's bigger point is that Christians should not focus narrowly on one or two moral issues and ignore other issues of justice, which also should be seen as moral issues by Christians. His point of course sits well with some of the points made in James stressing the close connection between faith and action (e.g. James 1:26-27). Rudd appears to be making the point that there is a danger that in (perhaps rightly) focusing on a narrow moral campaign one might just as easily ignore other significant issues of justice and fail to act accordingly.

The themed articles in this latest edition of Case all put the case (no pun intended) for an understanding of government and political issues from an informed biblical ethical framework.

Mike Thompson considers the Christian response and stance in relation to democracy. Should Christians support the promotion of democracy as a foreign policy objective? He argues that Christians need to be discriminating about the universal validity of “the constellation of ideas known as liberal democracy”.

Andrew Errington inspired by the work of Oliver O’Donovan and our 2007 New College Lectures has written a short discussion and reflection on the nature of representation. He argues (as O’Donovan does) that a right understanding of political representation is fundamental to understanding our roles as citizens in liberal democratic society.

Kenny Liew has written an article concerned with justice and its fundamental place in liberal democracy. Drawing partly on an earlier review in Case of Rawls' work by Andrew Bain, Liew suggests that Rawls' concept of ‘justice as fairness’ is consistent with a Christian understanding of the role that liberal democratic governments play in seeking to make just and equitable decisions that benefit all members of society. Rawls argues that a fair society is egalitarian with both the weak and strong citizens agreeing to the terms of their association. Liew suggests that while Rawls develops his position from a secular view of society that would trouble most Christians, his concept of justice provides room for Christians to “create space” in which to persuade others of the good of the gospel.

Finally an article is included from John Anderson that is based on his presentation at the New College Lectures in 2005. He argues that Christians should play their part in politics. While accepting that the separation of Church and State is justified, he argues passionately for the active participation of Christians in politics and cites the key role that Christian reformers have played throughout the centuries. He then lays out a framework for political involvement.

If you aren’t a CASE Associate and so don’t receive Case magazine you will find some of the past articles on our website, but if you'd like to receive the magazine quarterly and gain the other added benefits of being an Associate, you can subscribe for just $AU55 per year.

Sunday 11 November 2007

Books that stand the test of time

One of the things I commented on in a recent post on writing was that not all forms of writing have the same longevity. I suggested, "Web-based communication is less permanent (links quickly disappear, websites close down, Blogs 'mutate' into new untrackable forms etc)." Implicit in this comment was my view that some texts will endure due to their quality and significance. It seems that even in the not so weighty area of romance novels that people do tend to favour novels that have been read and loved for generations. Judgments are being made about the quality of language, plot, structure and significance.

A recent survey commissioned by UKTV Drama that reached 2,000 people found that the top 20 choices for a favourite romance novel were all major works of English literature. The top 10 were:

1 Wuthering Heights - Emily Bronte, 1847
2 Pride and Prejudice - Jane Austen, 1813
3 Romeo and Juliet - William Shakespeare, 1597
4 Jane Eyre - Charlotte Bronte, 1847
5 Gone with the Wind - Margaret Mitchell, 1936
6 The English Patient - Michael Ondaatje, 1992
7 Rebecca - Daphne du Maurier, 1938
8 Doctor Zhivago - Boris Pasternak, 1957
9 Lady Chatterley's Lover - D.H. Lawrence, 1928
10 Far from The Madding Crowd - Thomas Hardy, 1874

Nevertheless, 175 million Mills and Boon romantic novels are sold each year and more than 800 new titles are released each month. However, while these books might meet a short term market, the key question is, will they have the same longevity as many of the novels that made the top 10 in the UK survey.

When it comes to books that have stood the test of time, it's hard to match the Bible. The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy suggests that it is "the most widely known book in the English-speaking world . . . No one in the English-speaking world can be considered literate without a basic knowledge of the Bible". It has long been accepted that the Bible is the most printed and distributed book in the world. Its dominance is extraordinary. Wikipedia suggests that an estimated 5-6 billion Bibles have been sold. Wikipedia lists Quotations from the Chinese leader Chairman Mao in a distant second at 900 million copies.

In age of increasingly diversified modes of communication, and with demands on our time that make it increasingly difficult to read something even as long as this Blog post, it is to be hoped that significant cultural texts are still read. As a Christian I would argue that the Bible is in a category of its own. God's word is eternal (Psalm 119:89), as the Prophet Isaiah (40:6-8) made clear to the Israelites almost 700 years before Christ. While nations and people might perish, God's word endures:

All men are like grass,
and all their glory is like the flowers
of the field.

The grass withers
and the flowers fall,
because the breath of the LORD
blows on them.

Surely the people are grass.

The grass withers
and the flowers fall,
but the word of our God
stands forever.

Sunday 4 November 2007

Family Heritage: A reward, blessing and responsibility

I've just returned from a family reunion in Newcastle. The Linton family in Australia is traced to Hugh and Mary Linton who arrived on the SS Scotland on 4th September 1882 – 125 years ago. As I considered the family tree I couldn't help but think that my Great Grandfather must have understood the Psalmist who said:

Behold, children are a heritage from the LORD,
 the fruit of the womb a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the children of one’s youth.
Blessed is the man who fills his quiver with them! 
He shall not be put to shame 
when he speaks with his enemies in the gate (Psalm 127:3-5).

Hughie Linton and his wife Mary had 11 children, and as I looked around the room 125 years after he arrived from South East Scotland, I could see his heritage. God does not promise wealth fame and fortune in this Psalm, he promises that one’s family will be a reward and blessing. A family is wealth enough!

I was struck by the fact that the group of 100 people gathered in the Minmi Community Hall had more than its share of Christians, perhaps as much as 50%. Today, every strand of the family tree is littered with men and women of strong faith - lay preachers, ministers, church elders, a Bible college lecturer etc. Mostly Open Brethren and Baptists they seem also to have taken the words of Paul to heart to imitate Christ’s humility, to have the same attitude (Phil 2:5-11) and to:

Do all things without grumbling or questioning, that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world (Phil 2:12-15).

My Grandfather Alexander Linton, the 6th child of Hughie and Mary lived as closely to this as anyone I’ve known. He followed in his father's footsteps to run a general store in the Hunter coalfields town of Kearsley and attended a Brethren Assembly for most of his life. As a young boy with parents who didn’t see themselves as Christians, I would spend all my holidays with my Grandfather and Grandmother (Viola), following him as he did home deliveries of orders for the customers of his general store near Cessnock, working on cars with him, building and repairing radios and TVs, building houses, fishing (that's me in the middle below, Christmas 1954).

He loved the Bible and in particular the Proverbs and seemingly had memorised many of them. Life was full of situations to which he would respond with an appropriate verse.

An angry outburst of temper from me when frustrated by a hammer that didn’t like my thumb, or anger at my sister, would be met with:

“A gentle answer (Son) turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger” (Prov 15:1)

When I had far too much to say about things for which I had little knowledge he would say:

“Even a fool is thought wise if he keeps silent, and discerning if he holds his tongue.” (Prov 17:28)

When I was becoming far too sure of myself or too confident in my own ability he would say:

“Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall.” Proverbs 16:18

Proverbs is not a set of rules for life, or precise promises that God makes to all people in all situations. Rather, it is a book of general wisdom that offers a key to life. Patterns for life, not promises and rules. Yes, some parts of the Proverbs do speak of the promises of God, and it does offer rules that only the foolish would ignore, but it seeks to do much more than this.

One of the many interesting insights that Proverbs offers is that when righteous people understand the wisdom of Proverbs, and seek to live by its patterns, people notice. In Proverbs 11:1-11, a passage that talks primarily of ethical practice in business (of having accurate scales and weights), we are told that when righteous people act justly the city benefits:

When it goes well with the righteous, the city rejoices, and when the wicked perish there are shouts of gladness. By the blessing of the upright a city is exalted, but by the mouth of the wicked it is overthrown (Prov 11:10,11)

My grandfather was the most respected person in his town. I can vouch for the accuracy of his weights and scales! “Old Alex” as he was affectionately known was to be trusted with the deeds of your house in the depression when you had no money for food and he extended the whole town credit (for years). He was the one to whom community members turned for wise counsel. He was the one person universally trusted.

He knew that the Proverbs were wisdom for his private life (as husband, father, brother, grandfather, son), his spiritual life (as church member and child of God) and his public life (as shop keeper, money lender, repairman of everything that was broken & as a community leader).

My Grandfather’s faith and the living of it shone so brightly that he had an influence on me that eventually (after some 31 years) saw me come to faith. As I looked around the small community hall at my many relatives in disparate branches of the family tree, I silently rejoiced at the fact that men and women of strong faith had been used by God to shape lives - their heritage was in the room for all to see. And I felt the challenge afresh that my life is to be lived in the same way, with a right understanding of God’s expectations of my relationship to him in Christ, and with a clear understanding that my children and grandchildren are indeed a precious heritage from the Lord that he has entrusted to me and who are also a great blessing to me and to others.

Thursday 1 November 2007

Australia Votes: Assessing the policies

The Australian Christian Lobby has developed a new web-based tool to help Australian Christians make a choice in the Federal Election on the 24th November. The site allows you to consider what the parties propose in the 25 policy areas, how all politicians currently in the parliament voted on all conscience issues (e.g. cloning human embryo bill and the RU486 legislation) during the last session of the Parliament, and how you can find opportunities to take part in forums with your local member or gain access to key resources on their views. This site goes well beyond discussing the traditional moral issues that rightly concern Christians (e.g. abortion, the importance of families, human cloning etc) to issues for which Christians should have opinions such as climate change, civil liberties, health, Indigenous Australians, refugees, overseas aid etc. This is an excellent resource that is worth a look. There are a number of ways to read through the site but I found it most helpful to read all responses from the major parties and then to compare responses to issues that I believe are of highest priority. You’ll find some of the usual political evasiveness in relation to specific questions and a bit of double speak, but the responses on the site are a starting point for personal decision-making.

When we do vote it's my view that we need to consider the full sweep of policy agendas that one would expect from a federal government. Of course there will be some issues that will be of greater interest to us, and some Christians are prepared (legitimately) to vote based on single issues that they see as of fundamental importance.

Many Christians find it difficult to make the choice between major and minor parties. Do we vote for a local member or a party? Should we vote for a party simply because it is made up of people who are all Christians? Interestingly, Kevin Rudd (Leader of the Opposition) made some comments about this at the 2005 New College Lectures (you can read or listen to his talk on Church and State). Do we cast our vote differently in the House of Representatives and the Senate? Should our major concern be the key policy agendas of the parties or where our local member stands on specific issues? Are there key moral issues, or issues of justice, that might sway one's vote in one direction or the other?

I'm not going to offer any answers to these questions but as voters we need to think about them. Maybe you've got some thoughts on them. What I will say though is that we have a responsibility to vote and to consider the policies of the people we vote for, not to vote simply for someone we know and like, or simply to vote as our parents, friends or other Christians vote.

When Oliver O'Donovan spoke to the residents of New College this year just prior to the New College Lectures he reminded them that a government is “representative” of the people:

"I don’t mean that government is elected, though sometimes it is. Government is representative in all it does in that it speaks and acts for us, as a political community. What the Australian government agrees to and has lawfully ratified, you will have agreed to."

Readers of this Blog from other countries should also be able to relate to these questions as they face their own elections in the future. For our many American readers there are plenty of web resources that allow you to compare presidential candidates on issues of concern to Christians. For example, the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life allows you to compare candidates on issues such as bioethics, the death penalty, gay marriage, religion and schools, immigration, the Iraq War and so on.

I wouldn't begin to offer advice on how Christians (or non-Christians for that matter) might make such choices between the parties based on their policies, but the ACL site should help us to assess the various party responses to key issues that should concern Christians.

If you find the responses lack the detail you need an alternative that I know some Christians use is to email their local member and ask him or her for their views on specific issues. You may get responses from party staffers but I’ve known some to receive detailed personal responses from their local member or state senators.