We believe in a God of truth who reveals Himself to us. He spoke through the Old Testament prophets and through His Son, the Word made flesh. As evangelicals, we believe in the authority of God’s written word and seek to live in its light. We believe that this God of truth has given us a true gospel message. The life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ is good news for the whole world. We are a people of the book, and a people of truth.
But we are told that we live in a post-truth age. Some people are cynical of all truth-claims, especially political ones; others see one set of beliefs as a badge of their group, beyond criticism or debate. Regardless of this culture, we are called to be people of truth – especially at election time. We are witnesses to truth in how we judge claims and promises, and in how we decide who gets our vote.
For a society committed to truth, we will need leaders with integrity who inspire trust. We believe integrity to be a better goal for candidates than popularity. Most cynicism about politics assumes that candidates will flatter us, telling us what we want to hear rather than what they want to say. And yet a candidate telling us what they want to say is surely more trustworthy, as we can at least believe that they will stand by their words. Truth begets trust.
Accountability for leaders is vital for testing truth and building trust. Both candidates and governments must be held accountable for their promises and policies: that is what elections are for. Candidates rightly make themselves available, through hustings and in media appearances, during election campaigns. They aspire to an important office and such scrutiny is vital.
Those candidates who become MPs – of all parties – then have a duty to hold the government accountable. To elect an MP is to elect someone to speak truth to power. Their role will be to question ministers, lead debates and amend legislation on our behalf. MPs may have to go against their party on important issues and be strong on behalf of the weak. In our choice of candidates, we must keep this vital duty in mind.
Questions to ask your candidates
- A voice for the voiceless – how have candidates demonstrated their willingness to speak truth to power?
- Integrity – how do candidates propose to demonstrate integrity and grace in how they communicate and debate?
- Trust – how will candidates be held accountable for specific promises?
- Gospel truth – in what ways do candidates consider that the truth of the Christian gospel benefits society and how will they promote this if elected?
Truth in action – #ASKNI17
#ASKNI17 was an initiative from Evangelical Alliance Northern Ireland and Summer Madness youth festival that sought to engage Christian young people with the March 2017 Assembly elections in Northern Ireland. A number of crowdsourced questions were posed to representatives of the parties with seats in the Northern Ireland Assembly in 15 minute video interviews.
The interviews covered a range of issues on themes of trust, honesty, moral questions, student’s and young people’s issues alongside some light hearted questions. This project sought to go beyond political rhetoric and help young voters find the party that aligns with their views and voices their concerns.