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
"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
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
"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."