Political parties petitioned to prioritise Middle East Christians as election looms

01 May 2015

DEMOTIX

Not forgotten: an Ethiopian woman with a lit candle at a vigil for Christians killed by Islamic State in Libya, in Manchester, on Sunday 

Not forgotten: an Ethiopian woman with a lit candle at a vigil for Christians killed by Islamic State in Libya, in Manchester, ...

CHURCH groups have been active in the last few days before the General Election next Thursday.

Almost 4500 of those attending the Spring Harvest festival have signed a petition calling on the party leaders to promise to do more to protect persecuted Christians in the Middle East.

The list of signatories was presented to party representatives by Open Doors, the Bible Society, and Spring Harvest this week.

New research from the National Churches Trust shows that churches are at the heart of Britain's electoral machine: one-in-five polling stations - 6000 of the 32,000 - are inside church buildings. In Greater London, this proportion rises to one-in-four.

Chelmsford Cathedral hosted Christian leaders, including all four bishops of the diocese, at an election prayer vigil yesterday evening.

The RC Bishop of Brentwood, the Rt Revd Alan Williams, joined the Anglicans, along with representatives of the Baptist, Methodist, and United Reformed Churches, the Quakers, the Redeemed Christian Church of God, and the Salvation Army.

Before the event, the four bishops urged Christians in a letter to reject cynicism, and vote wholeheartedly for the common good.

The convener of the National Day of Prayer and Worship, Dr Jonathan Oloyede, has praised the effort of various campaigns to get Christians engaged in the election - including the Show Up campaign, the black-majority churches' manifesto, and the pastoral letter from the C of E Bishops.

But, he said in an open letter last Friday, the Church needs to commit to praying for the outcome of the election, too. He urged Christians to come to a prayer vigil in Parliament Square on the eve of the election.

Ed Miliband has praised Roman Catholic influence on the Labour Party, saying that Catholic social teaching about the need to promote individuals' well-being in order to affect society's well-being was central to his campaign.

Jon Cruddas, a Roman Catholic, and a key figure behind Labour's manifesto, was driven by trying to build a "sense of community [and] belonging", Mr Miliband said, in an interview with The Tablet last week.

He also spoke warmly of Pope Francis. He admired the way the RC Church constantly spoke out about social issues.

In an interview with The Muslim News, Mr Miliband pledged to strengthen the laws against Islamophobia and to make police forces record anti-Muslim hate speech and attacks.

He was also critical of the Government's cutting funding for its anti-extremism programme. The Muslim community was an "incredibly important, incredibly rich, in-credible asset to our country".

The Muslim News also spoke to David Cameron. He told them he was proud to have a Muslim in the cabinet: Sajid Javid, the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport.

He welcomed the Muslim contribution to the economy, the NHS, and British culture.

'Losses and gains' - the  Church Times leader

The vote . . . and why it matters:

'Are we asking our politicians for what is truly just?' - Lorraine Cavanagh

'Are we prepared to vote for neighbours who don't look like us?' - Anna Drew

'How much does the character of our politicians matter?' - Nick Spencer

'Where is the Church's righteous anger in this election season?' - Eva McIntyre

 

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