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Why should Christians care about politics?

With UK elections set for 4 July, Tearfund is looking at why our faith means we have a responsibility to get involved.

Written by Philip Powell | 23 May 2024

A group of campaigners gather on the green outside Westminster, the seat of politics in the UK.

Campaigners from Tearfund join a crowd gathered on the green outside Westminster to make their voices heard. Christians have an active role to play in politics, in holding government leaders to account, and in praying for our leaders. Credit: Billie Anderson/Tearfund

This year, more than half of the world’s population will be going to the polls. Here in the UK, Rishi Sunak has announced that elections will take place on 4 July. Should we, as Christians, care about politics? Do we have a responsibility to be actively involved? Here are five reasons why we think Christians do need to care about politics.

5 reasons Christians should care about politics

1. The moral foundations of politics

All political decisions are based on moral values. When a politician makes decisions about some aspect of our lives, there is a hidden part of the equation that we must consider very carefully.

Political ideologies (such as utilitarianism, marxism, conservatism and liberal capitalism) are ways of thinking about governing based on moral values about what it means to be a human being and what the purpose of life is. As Christians, we must bring these ideologies into the open and look at them critically and reasonably. So, for example, we must confront and challenge any ideology that does not actively consider people living in poverty and how to take care of them, because part of the gospel is bringing ‘good news to the poor’.

We want politics to be based on moral foundations. Therefore we seek, even if we don’t always succeed, for politics that is aligned to the shalom – peace and wholeness – of God’s creation.

2. The state mustn’t be idolised

The nation-state is a unique social construct – a way that we, as humanity, have designed to make choices that affect all within that state and also outside it. We give it (and our leaders) legitimate authority to exercise power, including using coercion (or force) to carry out the decisions made by those people who are in leadership. The law of the state has disciplinary power. However, this is where the danger can lie. Because the state has power, it can become idolised as the source of earthly salvation. Nationalism gets promoted as the ultimate good and demands are made on citizens to give loyalty to their nation and government without questioning whether the choices it is making are righteous and just or not.

As Christians, we reject this kind of idolisation of the nation-state. This does not mean that we reject political authority. But, we both support the proper role of the state to uphold law and order, at the same time as stepping back to think critically about what governments are doing and to challenge things that go against God’s will for his creation.

As Christians, we believe the good of human life is more important than the collective interest of any nation-state because our ultimate allegiance is to Jesus Christ and his leadership.

3. The role of government is to achieve and establish justice

Running down politicians and criticising their words, actions and leadership has become a popular thing to do, but glib remarks and jokes don’t help with the challenges of governing a society that includes so many groups of people – often with conflicting interests. The moment we step onto the street and have to interact with other people, some kind of ‘ordering’ of society is required.

The role of government, elected by the people and for the people, is to protect the private property of citizens, promote fairness in the relations between citizens and groups, and keep citizens safe from external dangers. Christians must affirm the role of government to achieve justice. Without a properly functioning government, there is nothing to prevent the rich and powerful from exploiting the weak and vulnerable.

More government does not mean less freedom. In fact, without government, freedom would not exist: there would only be anarchy.

4. Politics as a way to resolve conflict and differences non-violently

Where two or three people gather together in the name of anything, soon there is potential for conflict. To disagree is to be human. Also, because society is made up of not just individuals but also groups, there is often a clash of group interests.

Government and the political process provide an organised means to resolve disputes and mediate 'conflicts of interest' peacefully. Government is the sole authority with the power to enforce law on all citizens. A failed state does not have a functioning government to enforce decisions, so violence becomes the means for pursuing political and social goals.

A peaceful, democratic political process will always be more time-consuming and more complicated than one would wish, and no individual or group will get everything they want. This means that there must always be some negotiation and compromise in politics.

As Christians, we can be bridge-builders in society, using our resources and influence to help find ways that make our politics work for the good of all, especially for those at the bottom of the pile whose voices are less heard and whose best interests are not always taken into account.

5. The exercise of power under the authority of law

Politics is about using power for achieving the common good. This is neither arbitrary (anything goes) nor is it divinely ordained (ruling on behalf of God). Political leaders have power to make decisions, but only within the limits (or parameters) that are allowed by the law.

In the Old Testament, we read that God gave his laws to the Jews because he wanted Israel to be a society defined by justice for all people. Similarly, in our context, when our laws stick to what is good and reject what is evil, there is justice in society. Without the authority of law to maintain the balance of power and justice, the exercise of political power will become tyrannical.

As Christians, we want to see God’s justice in society. Therefore, we should support the role of the state to enforce law and order, and also challenge and seek to change laws that go against the teachings of the Bible.


Politicians are people just like any of us and have no magical powers. Politics is about using ‘limited means’, and because it is a human endeavour, it is full of setbacks and failures. There are no quick fixes to the fundamental problems of human nature. No sainthood for those in the arena of politics.

And yet, if we want to achieve the common good of all (in a limited and imperfect sense), this would not be possible without the institution of government and a democratic political process. Without the exercise of power, we cannot pursue the ‘public good’. If we enjoy civil order, liberty and justice of some sort, then we must have a profound sense of gratitude for the tireless work politicians and nameless bureaucrats do to make this possible.

But, we must not leave all the responsibility of politics to our politicians. As citizens, we must take ownership and get involved in achieving the common good. If our politics has failed, we have to carry some measure of blame for this. Good politics does not come about by accident or luck but through hard work and staying committed over a long period of time.

This is one important way we are called to serve Christ in the world.

Find out more about the UK election process, what hustings are and how you can pray and get involved here.

Written by

Written by  Philip Powell

Philip Powell is a Theology and Network Engagement Manager at Tearfund.

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