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
Chelmsford Cathedral hosted Christian leaders, including all
four bishops of the diocese, at an election prayer vigil yesterday
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
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
'Losses and gains'
- the Church
The vote . . . and why it matters:
'Are we asking our politicians for what is truly just?' - Lorraine
'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
'Where is the Church's righteous anger in this election
season?' - Eva McIntyre
Do you believe your vote will make a difference? Vote