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Christians urged to use vote

16 May 2014

pa

Sign of voter disaffection: a vandalised UKIP Euro and Local Elections billboard, in the Hyson Green area of Nottingham

Sign of voter disaffection: a vandalised UKIP Euro and Local Elections billboard, in the Hyson Green area of Nottingham

CHRISTIANS have been urged by all denominations to use their vote next week in the European and local elections.

Britain goes to the polls on 22 May to elect 73 MEPs and thousands of local councillors in the last nation-wide vote before the General Election in May next year.

Leaders from each major denomination in Merseyside have issued a statement strongly encouraging churchpeople to vote on 22 May, warning that low turnouts in the past had opened the door to extremist parties such as the British Nationalist Party.

The statement was signed by the regional leaders from the Baptists, Methodists, United Reformed Church, Roman Catholic Church, Salvation Army, and the Anglican Bishop of Warrington, the Rt Revd Richard Blackburn.

They wrote: "Some of our media are dismissive about what happens in Europe but it is important in a democratic state that we make the effort to vote. It is ironic to watch people in countries like Afghanistan voting in huge numbers when people here in the United Kingdom cannot be bothered to spare a small amount of time to go to the polling station."

They urged Christians in the region to read up on the elections to make an informed choice, as well as encourage friends and family to also vote.

A similar message came from the RC Bishop of Portsmouth, the Rt Revd Philip Egan. In a message to clergy and others in his diocese on5 May, Bishop Egan said that Christians had a duty to take part in the European elections. "We might yet be tempted for one reason or another to ignore these electionsor to yield to cynicism. Yet I ask you, please take part in these elections."

Bishop Egan said that it was important people researched the views of the various candidates on human life and dignity.

On Wednesday, the Suffragan Bishop in Europe, the Rt Revd David Hamid, said that, while UKIP might have been gaining support in Britain, he saw strong support for the EU from Anglicans across Europe.

"I can say that most of the British people on the Continent are very much aware that the whole EU project has a very Christian basis to it," he said. "The EU was conceived by people who were motivated by important Christian principles of peace, reconciliation, and the common good."

When asked whom he would vote for, Bishop Hamid said that it would be a party that was committed to Britain's membership of the EU.

The Christian charity CARE has launched a website to boost turnout at the European elections, which was just 34.5 per cent at the last European polls in the UK in 2009. The site, www.euelections2014.net, also includes details on how the EU fits into the key issues the charity campaigns on.

THE rise of UKIP from fringe protest party to topping some polls before the European elections on 22 May has been the story of the campaign, writes Tim Wyatt.

The Rector of Mersea, in Essex, the Revd Sam Norton, has been a member of the party since 2012 and plans to vote for it next week. He explains: "I think the largest political issue for us at the moment is engagement with the EU, and the consensus across the other parties doesn't offer much of a chance to have change. I think the future belongs to the local - the small-scale is important and is more human. I see the EU as being an over-mighty principality.

"UKIP is clearly being treated as a scapegoat by the metropolitan intelligentsia. The only indigenous culture in the world the metropolitans don't respect is that of the working-class British man.

"Of course [I'm concerned by racist comments from UKIP candidates]. As a Christian, I think the only perfect human being was Jesus. Therefore, everyone else and every political institution is flawed. There are stupid people in every party. UKIP is very young and naïve as a party, and I think there are lots of chancers who come along and ride on its coat-tails. . . I will vote for UKIP, but I'm not going to die in the trenches for them. . . I think it's very important for Christians to be engaged politically, but . . . it would be disastrous for any one political party to seen as the Christian party."

 

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