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Home  >  Features  >  Looking Back: General Election 1910

Looking Back

Friday March 20

Looking Back: General Election 1910

A warning, published in March 1910, that to invoke Christ in politics is to 'sink Him to a mere ally of a political party'.


At the close of the General Election, one suggestion will come to most Churchmen. In Scotland, at least, there has been little of that impious intrusion of sacred things into the political conflict which disfigured the election in England. Few things could be more distressing than the assumption by many hot partisans that the Lord Christ was a supporter of their side, and their use of prayer, and of holy names and places, for the advocacy of political opinions about which Christian men, equally devoted to their Master, might easily hold conflicting views.

Preaching in Westminster Abbey on the eve of the elections, Canon Hensley Henson used some expressions which well deserve to be remembered:-

"I am here in the central church of English Christianity, on the last Sunday before voting begins, to say to my fellow-countrymen, with all the strength of conviction that I can command, and with such authority of my sacred office as may be fairly assumed, that the claim of Christ upon them at this time is not that they should vote for or against a veto in the House of Lords, for or against Tariff Reform, for or against Disestablishment, for or against the Budget, for or against increase of armaments, for or against limiting the instruction given in the State schools to secular subjects, for or against Home Rule for Ireland.

"No; to state the contrary would be to shut half the nation outside the range of Christ’s claim, and to sink Him to a mere ally of a political party. I am here to remind you that Christ’s claim reaches further and goes deeper. He requires of us all to face our difficult civic duty in a manly, fair-minded, honest spirit, bringing to the task our best judgment, taking pains to inform ourselves carefully of the relevant facts, making sure that as far as possible we listen to both sides, and setting our faces firm against every form of misrepresentation and foul play.

"Christ calls upon us all to be on our guard against the intrusion of prejudice, the subtle bias of class and temperament, the vulgar seductions of personal interest, the more dangerous pressure of religious bigotry. He calls us to act seriously, religiously, considerately, as in His sight, and so to give a vote which represents the best individual contribution we have it in our power to make to the national decision. Be sure if we act so, the vote we give, on whatever side it be cast, will be acceptable in His sight, and ultimately beneficial to the nation."

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