LDCF member, Clarke Roberts, offers a theological perspective on campaigning on housing. Hopefully this will be the first of many - stay tuned!
As Liberal Democrats we are one of the only political parties in the UK to be talking about the very real housing crisis and we’re not just talking about it; we’re actively campaigning on it. A shortage of affordable homes; a severe lack in social housing; young people facing the prospect of being forever stuck in the endless void of the rental sector. Mr Cameron’s election pledge to increase the scale of the late Ms Thatcher’s ‘right-to-buy’ scheme is a huge blow to an already desperate situation.
Well our leader Tim Farron made it clear from the first day he was elected that one of his seven priorities would be to tackle the housing crisis. Any liberal will agree that the crisis we face in terms of our housing situation is something that needs immediate attention from activists and politicians alike; but why should Christians be bothered? “I don’t recall there being a passage in the Gospel where Jesus spoke about the lack of social housing.” You’re right. But as Christians, we should be bothered and we should be campaigning to help alleviate this country’s housing crisis.
I’ve been teaching an adult education class in Christian theology in the past few weeks as well as studying for my Master’s degree in the same subject, and in my reading I came across something that I thought was truly brilliant. We’ve all heard of the Trinity: the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. A celestial triangle that shows how each person of the Trinity is simultaneously God but yet never at any time, are they each other. A Brazilian theologian named Leonardo Boff explained how the Trinity and the fluid, non-hierarchical relationship between the three persons of it should be understood in a way that can apply to human society.
Boff urges Christians to look at the fact that whilst there are three distinct persons of the Trinity, none is considered more or less important than the other and the whole ensemble is required in order for God to exist as we understand it.
Our society is very much the same: let’s call God in this example, the UK. The UK is made up of many different aspects: cities, towns, villages and the millions of people that make these places what they are. A diverse range of people from different socio-economic backgrounds, different religions and cultures and different countries. As liberals we accept the fact that, despite all these differences, these people are all equal and no one group should be treated in favour of another. Just as the components of God are all equally as valuable as each other, so too should we view our society in the same way.
Let’s apply this to the housing crisis. In the UK there are homeowners, renters and people without a home at all. Not one group is more important than another and everyone should have an equal opportunity to live freely with dignity and security. The provision of social and affordable homes will help improve access to homes for many and reduce the inequality of housing.
As Christians, we are called to live out the equality, fairness and cohesion that the Trinity embodies ; all aspects and components of a whole being treated equally and fairly, not being trampled on or starved of opportunity by those from above.
Clarke Roberts, Theology Masters student at York St John
- All views expressed are the author's own -