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Viewpoint from Tony Mallion for 9th July

Tony Mallion 

Member of Cliff Park Community Church, Gorleston



Why I kept it I’m not sure. But some while ago I discovered the first reporter’s notebook I used when I joined the Yarmouth Merctony mallion small webury in 1968. There it was, among some other bits and pieces in an old briefcase. The notebook had a blue cover and was very small, but with it came plenty of memories of those early days. For some reason I particularly recalled trudging one afternoon, in the snow, to interview a couple about their forthcoming golden wedding anniversary.
There we sat in their terraced house and it was hard going. Every time the husband started to tell me something remotely interesting the wife cut across and said: “he doesn’t want to know that”. Oh yes I did, I was struggling to find anything to write about them. In desperation I asked for their recipe for a long and happy marriage, to be told they’d avoided arguments by never discussing religion or politics. That was something, I suppose.
It seemed strange to me – though clearly not to them – that these two fundamentals were subjects to be avoided. For many people it also appears religion and politics should never mix together either.
 Dove right
It may come as a surprise but the Bible doesn’t take that view. There are plenty of times when we are reminded in its pages that authority ultimately rests with God and those who govern do so under him. St.Paul writes quite clearly to the early church reminding them to respect and pray for those who rule over them at national and local level. He even adds (it’s in Romans 13) that we should pay taxes cheerfully so that those who govern can be paid. I’m not sure that advice was any more popular in the first century AD than it is in 2010!
And it was good in the run up to the General Election that churches took the lead in promoting some of the debate. We’re told that people have little interest in politics and that public debating had become a distant memory. Yet all over the country churches organised just such events. In our borough Bradwell and Gorleston Churches Together used Gorleston Pavilion for a pre-election question time – and almost 300 people turned up for what proved to be a lively evening.
That is only the beginning. Our interest and prayers shouldn’t stop once the votes are counted. We face tough times. St.Paul in his letter to Timothy, chapter two wrote : “I urge then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercessions and thanksgiving be made for everyone – for kings and those in authority”. Maybe religion and politics are worth discussing after all ? Our rulers, both local and national, need all the help they can get.