Cross-party campaign encourages Christians to vote

16 January 2015

PA

Shop-floor encounter: the Labour leader Ed Miliband talks to Dawn Privett at the B&Q distribution centre in Worksop, Nottinghamshire

Shop-floor encounter: the Labour leader Ed Miliband talks to Dawn Privett at the B&Q distribution centre in Worksop, Nottinghamshire

THE Christian vote in the General Election could be decisive, leaders of a new campaign have said.

Speaking before the launch of Show Up, a cross-party movement that seeks to encourage Christians to get involved in politics, Mark Scott, from the umbrella group Christians in Politics, said that the election in May was the most unpredictable in recent years.

"If Christians do get out and vote, they could genuinely have a profound impact," he said on Tuesday. Christians on the Left, the Conservative Christian Fellowship, and the Liberal Democrat Christian Forum have all backed the Show Up campaign, which has released an animated video arguing that God is just as concerned about politics as he is about the family or education.

The campaign has also designated 25 January as "Show Up Sunday", and wants churches to dedicate that day's service to impress on their congregations the importance of voting, and how else they can get involved in politics.

Mr Scott said that dozens of organisations had joined the Show Up coalition, including the Evangelical Alliance, Chur-ches Together in Britain and Ireland, the Catholic Social Action Network, Christian Aid, Tearfund, and the Bible Society. The Church of England, as well as the Free Churches' Joint Public Issues Team, had also signalled its support.

"In the past, Christians have often been said to be critical, or taking up only a commentary position," Mr Scott said. "We wanted to unite behind this single mes- sage about positive engagement, and have a united Christian voice. Putting God's Kingdom before party tribalism."

Getting people out to vote is only part of the campaign's ambitions, however. Mr Scott said that Show Up wanted to use this year's election to generate lasting interest in and concern about politics among Christians.

"It's about encouraging Christians to meet up with their local representatives, join parties and different campaigns. We are also working with 24/7 Prayer to do a week of prayer over the week of the election," he said.

The director of Christians on the Left, Andy Flannagan, said: "We have been overwhelmed by the response from so many Christian organisations and church networks who have got on board.

"They, and we, want to see a positive Christian contribution to public life which combines truth and grace rather than settling for the shouting from a distance which we have seen in the past. Voting may just be the start. By 2020, we could be the people answering questions at hustings rather than just asking them."

Seeking to address disillusionment is also a vital part of the campaign. Mr Scott said that Christians in Politics frequently came up against churchgoers who insisted that "politics is too messy and full of corruption and compromise."

"We want to encourage Christians to see politics as another mission field - another area to get stuck in, despite its not always going exactly as we would want it to," he said.

The director of advocacy at the Evangelical Alliance, Dave Landrum, said: "There may be glaring flaws with our political system, but the simple matter is that decisions are made by those who show up to vote."

Christian Aid, which is part of the Show Up coalition, has also released a document, Contract with the World's Poor, in an effort to draw the political parties' attention to issues such as tax avoidance, climate change, and international aid.

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