Informed Voting

I'm on holidays in Sydney at the moment and it's imposible to get away from the election. In my quiet time this morning I felt the need to encourage some first time voters who read here to be informed and vote responsibly.

I also found the Australian Christian Lobby's website this morning. It's quite good and easy to use. I like it because it makes an honest attempt to present the views of all the parties without resorting to bias and empty rhetoric. The disappointing down side is that the Greens didn't reply to the survey sent out to all the political parties and so they don't have their policies on the site. As a work around the ACL did this assessment of their policies which you can download here.



Anonymous said... 11/23/2007 11:57 am  

Better than some others I could name, but at the end of the day the ACL is just another mob trying to tell you who to vote for.

They obviously see issues of personal morality (homosexuality, abortion) that should be left out of politics altogether as being more important than how we treat refugees and the environment for example.

mike said... 11/23/2007 12:25 pm  

I'm not sure about that. On the page linked to they have listed views on the environment, refugees, indigenous issues and civil liberties.

I think the ACL realise that Christians care about a varied number of issues. I know that as a Christian I'm not just concerned with abortion and homosexuality. Being a Christianity is so much bigger than that... it's not just about being "anti".

Christians are free to vote Green, Blue, Red, whatever party they choose. That's the wonderful freedom I have as a Christian.

Alan said... 11/23/2007 12:29 pm  

I found this really handy Mike, allowed me to seek the answers I was asking with regards to my Christian faith, and who to vote for.
Anonymous, the ACL website did focus on certain issues that in your opinion should left out of politics, but that is just an opinion, I'm glad you have a mind about these issues rather than choosing to ignore them, but for Christians, these can be some of the key things we consider when voting. They are the Australian Christian Lobby, and so they will approach things in a Christian mindset. I myself (in my opinion) find them not biased to any party, after raking through their website, but just biased toward Christian issues, which I believe is perfectly acceptable for a group that openly states their agendas. It is a shame that the Greens (the party most focussed on environmental issues) chose not to reply to their surveys.
In the defence of the ACL here is one of their questions they asked all parties in light of the election:

"Christians are called to be stewards of creation and to care for the poor. There is therefore a concern about climate change because of its environmental impact and its impact on the world’s poor. What policies and / or targets will you put in place to reduce Australia’s greenhouse pollution and make the switch to clean energy?"

Tackling environment? yes indeed

Anonymous said... 11/26/2007 2:34 pm  

I did read the page alan! My point is that the strong focus was on the latter set of issues. The clear implication was, the greens have some 'christian' policies on the environment and refugees but you still shouldn't vote for 'em because of their policies on abortion etc.

mike said... 11/26/2007 3:25 pm  

Sorry but I didn't get that "implication" when I read it originally.

Annon I'd like to hear you expand on who you voted for and why. I'm also interested if you are a Christian. If so how does this effect your vote?

Perhaps also a name might be nice.

Anonymous said... 11/27/2007 3:30 pm  

Well, let's not talk about what "implications" each of us saw then, let's look at the document itself.

Strengths of the Greens' policies: about 70 words, concluding with guarded endorsement.

Weaknesses of the Greens' policies: about 100 words, then about 300 on 'the Greens and conscience votes' which is just an extension of the second section demonstrating why every other party is 'more christian' than the Greens on abortion and theraputic cloning of humans.

I voted for the greens (well, Labor really), but I'm sure you've guessed that already! Why? I guess I see matters such as looking after our environment and fellow humans as more important than making abortions illegal (as opposed to preventing them - no political party will actually achieve this) or preventing homosexuals from accessing their partner's superannuation. As you can also probably guess, nope, not a Christian.

I could make up a name, but I kinda like 'Anon'. Has a ring to it, I think ;)

Alan said... 11/29/2007 9:56 am  

Anon (or shall i call you billy, but i can't in case you are female)
I was in no way implying you hadn't read the page, that was clear in your first comment, if I gave that impression, I'm terribly sorry. But also in this last comment, you give the impression that you only looked at the PDF document in reference to the Greens.

The ACL couldn't make much more reference to the Greens than they did, because the Greens refused to reply to their survey. Had the Greens replied there would be a different story.
The ACL wrote about the Greens with the information they had, and it's no surprise that what was left was obviously that which they have tackled with the Greens previously.
It's just normal, and they tried.

"ACL has concerns about many of the Greens’ social policies, which individually and in
sum, are contrary to most Christians’ values."
Would you not expect this on a Christian website? I am glad that similarly as the Greens stand up for their policies, Christian's stand up for their beliefs.

It's a matter of personal choice what kind of party we vote for, and in no way did the ACL bias, just present what was there. If the Greens so desperately want the Christian vote, then they might need to amend some policies, but I guess that's not going to happen.

But other parties, as you say 'more Christian than the Greens' may offer more to be in line with our belief in Jesus, and as it is the ACL's job to inform and stand for Christian's, that's what they will do.

Anon, it's a shame you couldn't show yourself for who you are, and this is no personal attack on you, but it's important to see the ACL for what it really is. In our eyes the ACL provides us as Christians with the information we need, and in your eyes, they are just another Christian voice standing against the Greens.
Each have their view, can't we just agree to disagree, or at least understand the context in which the ACL are lobbying.

Billy said... 11/29/2007 5:01 pm  

Billy will be fine, Alan - it's a unisex name nowadays anyhow!

To be clear - I have no argument with anyone disagreeing with any political parties' policies, on whatever grounds they like. My argument with ACL (in fact it's more an argument with Mike's assessment that they are unbiased) is the comparative emphasis that they place on the two sets of issues. They put much more emphasis on the Greens policies with which they disagree than those with which they agree. I call that bias!

Even assuming for a moment that there is a definite and clear-cut 'Christian' position on every issue (and this is one heck of an assumption), I'll bet that some Christians vote green because they believe that the 'good' policies on refugees and the environment outweigh the 'bad' policies on abortion and gay marriage. The ACL, however, make value judgments about which are more important from a Christian POV - which is fine, but can lead to accusations of bias :)

On the issue of the Greens' non-response, well, is it really that surprising? Would family-first respond to a 'questionnaire' from a far left group?

Billy said... 11/30/2007 10:13 am  

Let me put it a different way, since I don't think my last post is all that clear. Mike said: "Christians are free to vote Green, Blue, Red, whatever party they choose. That's the wonderful freedom I have as a Christian."

Two points in response to that; 1/ everyone in Australia has that freedom and 2/ I think that's less true for Christians than anyone else (in practice, not theologically).

Allow me to qualify those statements. Everyone is subject to a certain level of peer pressure when it comes to voting. But I believe that Christians are almost unique in that they view voting as a moral decision, and face peer pressure from a moral perspective to vote (or not vote) a certain way. From my (admittedly limited) reading, the ACL is part of that moral pressure that is brought to bear on Christians to 'do the Christian thing' at the ballot box, when in actual fact the decision is more multifaceted than they would like to admit.

mike said... 12/05/2007 10:37 pm  

Hey Billy a couple of things...

I see no reason why a Christian Politician wouldn't respond to a "green left" questionnaire. In fact I would argue that it would be a very "Christian" thing for them to respond in a gracious and kind manner.

Secondly as a Christian peer pressure had nothing to do with my vote. Nor did the ACL "pressure" me into voting who I voted for. Sorry to sound matter of fact but that's how it is.

Benny said... 12/05/2007 10:49 pm  

"But I believe that Christians are almost unique in that they view voting as a moral decision, and face peer pressure from a moral perspective to vote (or not vote) a certain way. From my (admittedly limited) reading, the ACL is part of that moral pressure that is brought to bear on Christians to 'do the Christian thing' at the ballot box, when in actual fact the decision is more multifaceted than they would like to admit."

Hi. I agree with the second part, though I'd put it a different way - for a host of cultural and historical reasons, certain moral issues are given greater weight.

The first bit - hmm, wouldn't say so. Something like acting for climate change, for example, has been argued for and pressured for in moral terms...

(Christian who voted green/labour)

Billy said... 12/12/2007 1:26 pm  

Thanks for the considered replies, guys :)

I may have been unclear, Mike, because I think you may have missed my main point on both issues! Whether or not a christian could/would/should respond isn't my point - just an illustration. My point was that the Greens would've been spending time and energy helping someone to convince people *not* to vote for them, by completing the survey!

Secondly, I'm glad to hear it :) But it's not necessarily indicative of the bulk of christians. I'm more interested in the overall picture than individual cases - I could provide the counterexample that when I was a christian I felt moral pressure to vote a certain way, to the extent that a local politician was stood up at the front of the church and endorsed by the leadership! But both our personal experiences are limited and subjective.

Benny, I was interested to note that you don't deny that moral pressure is brought to bare, just that it's not exclusive to chrisian circles. I don't completely disagree with that, but do think that the pressure in christian groups is far stronger and harder to resist than in secular society. Probably something to do with how each group views leadership and moral issues.

Peace, out!

Benny said... 12/13/2007 6:42 pm  

Hey Billy,
Probably it depends on the Christian circles, as you say, our experiences are subjective. :)

But I don't know, you look at subcultures in secular society...when I was at a young writers festival in Newcastle earlier in the year, the subculture was astounding in its insularity - there was a whole event devoted to ranting about John Howard.

I just sat with the comics artists. We wrote and drew. Much more fun.

Peace returned ;)

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