The Christian Case for Socialism

Rachael Maskell MP 26 Aug 20

We are committed to applying our faith to our political engagement and this does not stop when it comes to our political and party allegiances. As we have reflected on elsewhere, all political ideologies correctly hold to some Biblical truths and all political ideologies fail to recognise other Gospel realities. We cannot therefore add to the Gospel and demand allegiance to one party or cause, for we cannot bind what the Bible does not bind. Our interaction with parties, policies, and voting is more often than not a wisdom call. One which should be influenced and shaped by our faith but not one we can attribute salvation status to. As Christians then we are free to choose our party and free to choose who to vote for. 

We asked some Christian politicians and party members to help us think through the UK political parties and how their faith influenced/influences their party involvement. The following blog by Rachael Maskell MP explores why as a Christian she is a socialist. The views expressed in the blog belong solely to the author and do not reflect the views of UCCF. 

It is our prayer at the Politics Network that this series is an encouragement and model for you as you think through how your faith informs your political engagement.

"I would never claim that the Christian faith can make a claim on any political ideology, as all can distract from the centrality of the hope that salvation through Jesus Christ alone can bring. However, it is true to say that many Christians through the years have been moved by the state of our nation to rise up, speak up, and to take up the cause of others, motivated to do so by their understanding of the practical application of their faith.

It was the great political movements of the working classes that first organised to protect the plight of workers that sparked a collectivism that penetrates socialism today. Tolpuddle Martyrs sacrificed their jobs as labourers to advance justice in the 1830s. The wider trade union movement itself found its origins in places where faith played a major role.

So when social movements joined together with the trade unions, including Christian Socialists to birth the Labour Party in 1900, it was with no surprise that many in the Party professed a personal faith. This has been the story of many Labour politicians, and indeed leaders of the Party.

Socialism itself, seeks to ensure that no individual is left behind. It reaches out to all, not least the most vulnerable, and sews a safety net beneath them to protect them and then raises it up to help advance their lives; journeying together to improve the conditions of all in society. Believing that each and every person is gifted and talented, socialism aspires to release the potential in everyone, but recognises that in an unequal society there are structural barriers to everyone being able to get there themselves. As the African proverb says, “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together”. It is this sense of collective responsibility for all that is at our roots.

Socialism is described as a political and economic theory of social organisation which advocates that the means of production, distribution and exchange should be owned or regulated by the community as a whole.

When work is organised, workers experience better pay, terms and conditions, sickness levels fall, productivity rises and the economy and wider society are more secure. When houses are built that people can afford, people can take pride in their communities. When we think on the principles of the NHS, no-one denied treatment because of cost, people doing extraordinary things with extraordinary love and care – a million miracles every 36 hours, we are blown away by the tapestry that is woven as cleaners, doctors, technicians, scientists and doctors work together to fix someone’s broken mind or body; each with a role, each of equal importance.

All of a sudden society has become that little bit more fair. Happy people, staves off ill health, fear, crime, improves education, and enhances life through to older age. Labour believes its radical agenda is transformative to address the issues that our society face. The state takes on more responsibility to curb injustice away from a self-seeking society, while everyone can enjoy a far more fulfilled existence.

Over this Coronavirus crisis, we have seen a state having to make extraordinary interventions, adopting the socialist principles of collective help and support and demonstrating how an individualised society fails, not least when placed under the greatest strain. But it has also shown us the desire to work together for the common good as people have selflessly given of themselves to others.

Rooted in the Gospel message is Jesus, someone fearless in speaking truth, standing by the marginalised and challenging and changing society for a greater good. The politics of the left is interwoven with Christian principles through which to build a better society."

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