*** DEBUG END ***

Christian voice heard inside Liberal Democrat Party

13 May 2009


From Kate Heywood

Sir, — I am saddened by Dr Vincent McKee’s article with which I strongly disagree (Comment, 8 May).

The debate about the place of religious faith in the public sphere is key to the future progress of our country. Too often, though, people are put off politics, rather than encouraged to become involved and contribute to the greater well-being of our communities and country. I fear that this may be the result of Dr McKee’s article.

The wide-ranging discussion on faith schools at the Lib Dem confer­ence saw those calling for the closure of faith schools defeated. The party agreed to improve faith schools by making them more inclusive and open, serving the original purpose for which they were created; and committed to working with groups such as Accord (a coalition of pro­gressive religious-minded people).

The same conference created policy on: financial regulation; education (allowing individuals to fulfil their potential); free quality childcare for 20 hours a week (to help those who need or want to return to work); ending fuel poverty; and new criminal-justice policy, focusing on rehabilitation and restorative justice.

Alongside the Party’s strong en­viron­mental credentials, its Iraq policy, economic justice, and support of families — whatever shape or size they come in, there is strong evidence of progressive people of faith at work within the Party.

Many Roman Catholic comment­ators and leaders have applauded Evan Harris for initiating his recent Private Members’ Bill to overturn the Act of Settlement, which has discriminated against Roman Catholics since 1701. While I do not agree with Dr Harris on all his policy stances, I do recognise him as a valued colleague.

Finally, there is a strong voice for the Christian faith within the Party. The Liberal Democrat Christian Forum enjoys the support of many leading Liberal Democrat MPs, peers, councillors, and members. It is continuing to grow, and actively engages with the Humanists and secularists within the Party, striving to increase religious literacy and affirm the valuable role played by people of faith in the Party and in the wider political community.

We take the view that constructive debate should come before public diatribe and misinformation. Political and theological credibility is hard to come by, and easy to lose. This article may prove very un­helpful to all Liberal Democrats — Christians and secularists alike.

Chair, Liberal Democrat Christian Forum
4 Cowley Street
London SW1P 3NB

Letters to the editor

Letters for publication should be sent to letters@churchtimes.co.uk.

Letters should be exclusive to the Church Times, and include a full postal address. Your name and address will appear alongside your letter.

The Church Times Podcast

Interviews and news analysis from the Church Times team. Listen to this week’s episode online

Welcome to the Church Times

​To explore the Church Times website fully, please sign in or subscribe.

Non-subscribers can read four articles for free each month. (You will need to register.)