The life of evangelical churches and their spiritual leaders has been portrayed in some recent films and series. Can they help us start conversations?
The rise of far-right populism anticipates an unstable scenario. Evangelicals issued “Vote Wisely”, a guide offering biblical reflection on education, migration, economy, and other socio-political issues.
Spaniards are called to vote a new parliament on Sunday 28 April. It is the third general election in only four years.
This time, all predictions draw a scenario in which no party will be strong enough to form a government.
The conflict in Catalonia, the plague of corruption, the arrival of migrants, and the debate around education have been the hot issues during the campaign in the last weeks.
THE APPEARANCE OF THE FAR-RIGHT
Incumbent President Pedro Sánchez called the snap election after 10 months in power. In July 2018 he won a motion of confidence against Conservative President Mariano Rajoy. Polls now suggest his Social Democratic Party PSOE will grow to become the largest group in parliament with around 130 representatives.
But some factors could open a complex post-election scenario. The fall of the Conservative PP and the consolidation of a three-party right-wing bloc could lead to the first coalition government in decades.
Additionally, all analysts expect a very strong vote for the new far-right, anti-migration, and nationalist party – Vox. Thousands have attended their rallies and they could burst into the Spanish Congress with as many as 35 seats.
Their slogan “Spain, first” and their strong use of social media reminds the strategies of other populist movements in Europe and elsewhere. No far-right movement had such a support since the end of the regime of dictator Francisco Franco, in 1975.
THE ROLE OF EVANGELICAL CHRISTIANS
Evangelical Christians represent around 1.5% of the Spanish population. These churches have traditionally called to participate in the elections to strengthen the relatively young democracy. But Christians will probably split their support among different parties.
Xesus Manuel Suárez, Secretary General of the Spanish Evangelical Alliance (AEE), believes evangelicals have an “opportunity” to make a difference in society. “In this moment of history, when there is so much scepticism, there is an opportunity for minority groups to offer something original, different and constructive. This is the challenge for us as evangelical Christians”, he told Spanish news website Protestante Digital.
But evangelical Christians should “mature our political thinking” so that it is “based on biblical principles”, he said. “Sadly, sometimes we Christians have the same motivations, the same ‘philias’ and ‘phobias’ as everyone else, and that is a problem: we should decide our vote differently”.
Evangelicals should not “feel threatened” by the advance of secularism, Suárez added. Believers should have a clear voice and should avoid “throwing themselves into the arms of ideologies which have not much to do with biblical principles”.
‘CHRISTIANS SHOULD NOT BE POLITICAL HOOLIGANS’
“We should not be ‘hooligans’” in the support of one or another political movement, but “thoughtfully take a pause to reflect about our vote”. Suárez alluded to the increasingly polarised political scenario in Spain. “Tensions are being used in irresponsible ways in our country. There are parties who live out of the frayed nerves and the caricaturisation”.
The long conflict in Catalonia is an example of how Christians could make a difference. There, “there is a need for a social group that has members on both sides and that is capable of building a proposal for agreement, dialogue and reconciliation”, and evangelicals could be these people.
“May God guide us and help us to play our role wherever He puts us”, Suárez concluded.
A “VOTE WISELY” GUIDE
To help evangelical Christians to think biblically about some of the key socio-political issues, the Spanish Evangelical Alliance issued a new version of their “Vota Sabiamente” (Vote Wisely) guide.
The 75-page document addresses the issues of Education, Health Care, Economy and Financial System, Territory, Immigration and coexistence with other cultures, Construction of Europe, Media, and Human Trafficking.
Seven authors with expertise in the area addressed these issues from a biblical perspective, and summarised what they believe should be a Christian position. Every section has a set of questions to help readers decide their positions.
The “Vote Wisely” guide of the AEE can be downloaded here (in Spanish).