THE first Black Church political manifesto to be drawn up in the
UK has urged black and ethnic-minority Christians to engage in
social and political action.
To be published in advance of next year's General Election, it
says that the large number of Christians in black communities means
that the "Black Majority Church in Britain is set to have a
significant say in who wins this next election".
Black Churches have grown rapidly in recent years - in London
alone, 48 per cent of churchgoers in 2012 were Black Christians, up
four per cent in seven years, a higher increase than in any other
The manifesto says that political engagement is not optional,
but in-tegral to Christian faith: "We see it as a mandatory part of
our Christian faith as responsible citizens in accordance with
Some commentators have described Black Churches as a "sleeping
giant" in the UK. The manifesto dismisses that, however, arguing
that Black Churches have been intimately involved in building
communities, and that now church leaders want "legislative
safeguards. . . that allow us to adhere to Christian values so that
we can serve our communities with integrity and in obedience to
The document, which has gone out to consultation before its
official publication, has been put together by church leaders from
the National Church Leaders Forum, which represents the African,
Caribbean, and Asian Christian communities.
In the foreword, Pastor Matthew Ashimolowo, senior pastor at
Kingsway International Christian Centre, and Bishop Eric Brown of
the New Testament Church of God, said: "Our manifesto, 'Black
Church Political Mobilisation: A Manifesto for Action', is the
first of its kind for the Black Church in Britain. Whilst we can't
promise tax cuts or an expansion in welfare provision, neither can
we promise new fiscal policies to stimulate growth in the medium to
"What we hope to do is to signal our maturing presence and
renewed commitment to mobilise African and Caribbean Churches and
the wider black community for social and political action. By
encouraging our Churches to actively engage in the socio-cultural,
political, and economic institutions locally and nationally, we
hope to strengthen communities, promote active citizenship, and the
At the heart of the manifesto's recommendations is a call for
Black Churches to work more closely with the police to improve the
service's historically poor relationship with black communities.
Churches should encourage members of their congregations to join
the police service and set up uniformed youth services such as the
Boys' and Girls' Brigade, the manifesto recommends.
It condemns the disproportion-ately high number of people from
black and ethnic minority communities in prison as a "scandal": on
average, there are five times more black prisoners than white in UK
prisons. It also calls for a "national dialogue on this
disproportionate representation of black people in prison".
Churches are also urged to get involved with resettlement
programmes for released offenders.
The manifesto urges Black Churches to support single parents,
but to continue to promote the importance of marriage in an era of
declining marriage and increasing divorce rates. The Church should
also work with fostering and adoption agencies to support foster
parents and children, it says.
It also highlights the still poor academic record of black
children in the education system: by the age of 22 to 24, 44 per
cent of black young people are not in education, employment, or
training, it says.
Gang culture is an increasing problem in communities, but one
where the Black Churches are well placed to help, through outreach
programmes targeting vulnerable youths, the manifesto says. It
urges members of the Black community to become involved as school
governors and teachers.