Key Points:

I'm a little disappointed with the news that an American senator's lawsuit against God has been dismissed on a mere technicality.

Apparently - and this seems a pretty weak excuse to me - the court was prevented from serving papers on God because no one knew His address. I don't think they were trying hard enough, for goodness' sake. He's omnipresent; he doesn't need an address, but there you go.

Pity, because I would have liked to have heard God's response, which I suspect would have been a lot like the one He gave Job, the most sorely tested man in the Old Testament. When Job asked God why He was treating him so unfairly despite his faithful worship, God gave him an almighty telling off.

"God doesn't explain," writes Frederick Buechner in his book Wishful Thinking. "He explodes.

"He asks Job who he thinks he is anyway. He says that to try to explain the kinds of things Job wants explained would be like trying to explain Einstein to a little-neck clam."

So God's mysterious. His thoughts aren't our thoughts, and our ways are definitely not His, sayeth the prophet Isaiah. And yet we clams keep insisting we've got Him all figured out.

We even claim to know how He'd like us to vote. Republican if you live in the US; the Pacific Party, Family Party or Kiwi Party if you're in Godzone.

And especially Mangere, where some candidates are apparently playing the God card as they jostle for attention in the most Christian electorate in the country.

Among them is Taito Phillip Field, who delivered the country's largest majority for Labour in 2005 and is now fulminating against his ex-party's "ungodly" legacy, including prostitution law reform, civil unions and the removal of parental hitting rights. (According to Field and co, God wants us to keep beating our children to correct their evil ways.)

As the Weekend Herald reported, some Samoan churches and ministers in Mangere, while stopping short of endorsing individual candidates, are reminding their flock of the Government's "anti-scripture" policies.

Ungodly? Anti-scripture? Maybe it's because I'm a newish believer, but I get tetchy when people claim to have God on their side, our limitless capacity for self-deception being what it is. A sobering case in point being the Ku Klux Klan, who used scripture to persuade themselves that their racist ways were sanctioned by God.

Still, if we're going to invoke God, maybe it's time to ask the big questions. Whose side is God on? And how should the faithful be voting this election?

If we were in the US, we'd be talking about the so-called God gap. Ever since the 2004 election, when evangelicals gave George W. Bush the edge over John Kerry, a pro-choice Catholic, much has been made of the political power of American religion. In 2004 the best indication of whether a voter supported Bush or Kerry wasn't gender or income level, but frequency of church attendance.

The signs are that the church-going Obama has managed to narrow the gap, notwithstanding a recent effigy-burning at a so-called "Christian" college.

But is there a God factor in our own elections? Do the faithful here vote according to religious dictate? And if so, what do the nation's two million-plus Christians really care about?

The answers might surprise many secular liberals.

Poverty is a priority, according to the NZ Council of Christian Social Services, which has called on all parties to reduce levels of poverty.

And a Christian manifesto being circulated among church leaders emphasises not just the traditional moral concerns - the importance of a moral foundation in society, the critical role of marriage and family, and the sanctity of life - but what some might consider liberal causes.

For example, the need to reduce poverty and unemployment, freedom of religion, justice with compassion for victims and offenders, care of the environment, help for refugees and asylum seekers, and upholding human rights.

Actually, they've always been Christian causes, but no one seems to have noticed.

As Martin Luther King jnr once said, "The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice."

Many people vote on moral grounds, at least if American exit polls are any guide. They're just not as narrowly defined as politicians and the media assume.

For example, exit polls for the 2006 US midterm elections showed that many voters considered poverty, the war in Iraq, strengthening working families, and protecting the environment as important moral values.

Indeed, most Americans who responded to a Zogby International poll, saw poverty and greed as the most urgent moral crises in American culture - more than twice as many as chose abortion and same-sex marriage.

This was especially true of Catholics. When asked to name the most important value guiding their vote, more than two-thirds chose "a commitment to the common good, the good of all not just the few".

I voted as an atheist at the last election and will vote as a Christian at this one, but the advice holds true.