THE first ever election manifesto released by Black Majority
Churches in Britain has attacked the British overseas-aid policy,
accusing the Government of recreating a "master-slave" relationship
between the UK and African and Caribbean nations.
The document, Black Church Political Mobilisation: A
manifesto for action, criticises the policy of putting
conditions on aid money to poorer countries, which, it says, allows
Britain to impose its own views on same-sex relationships on
The manifesto says: "We believe that by making assistance
'conditional' in this way, so that weaker nations are forced to
'follow the leader', the master-slave relationship is reinstated,
and ultimately our home nations are no longer free from British
Besides attacking what it calls "ideological imperialism", the
manifesto, which was released by a group of Black Church leaders,
the National Church Leaders Forum (NCLF), lists the priorities for
black Christians in the election, and urges their churches to
engage more deeply with politics.
It calls on the Government to work with Black Majority Churches
to investigate why black people are disproportionately imprisoned,
and to work to reduce the numbers of black inmates in prison.
The manifesto also highlights Black Churches' opposition to
same-sex marriage, and suggests that the authorities work with
their churches to support "vulnerable youths", and even to set up
In 2010, ethnic minorities were three times less likely to be
registered to vote than white British people. Only 29 per cent were
contacted by any party during the campaign. The manifesto wants to
use the Black Church to drive up levels of participation in
politics from the black community.
"With such a high number of Christians among Black communities,
the Black-majority Church in Britain is set to have a significant
say in who wins this next election," it says. "We do not see
political engagement as optional. Rather, we see it as a mandatory
part of our Christian faith as responsible citizens in accordance
with biblical teaching."
Dr Joe Aldred, a bishop in the Pentecostal Church of God of
Prophecy, who is involved in the NCLF and a researcher into
Britain's Black Churches, said that, for a long time, Black
Majority Churches did not engage with mainstream politics, but that
this was now changing.
In contrast with the United States, Dr Aldred said, Black
Majority denominations in the UK were not founded out of a context
of slavery and protest. "They weren't started out of a militant
response, but more as an expression of mission to their own folks.
They were focused on the social needs of their migrant community,
not their political needs."
But as the Black Church had grown and matured over the past 60
years, it had begun to mobilise, Dr Aldred said. Black Church
leaders were not demanding special treatment, but simply that their
up to 500,000 members should make their voices heard. "At the
moment we are punching well below that level," he said.
"I think, if the Pentecostal and Evangelical Christian
community, black and white, were to join forces . . . together they
hold out tremendous opportunity for engagement with the political
agenda of this country."
by Tim Wyatt
AFTER the pastoral letter issued last week by the House of
Bishops (News, 20
February), other religious groups have also launched campaigns
to make their voices heard before the General Election.
The Sikh Federation (UK) has prepared a manifesto that
highlights issues, which, it says, British Sikhs are especially
It wants more Sikhs in Parliament, both as MPs and peers, a
separate category for Sikhs in the next census, and 25 state-funded
Sikh schools. It also urges the next government to pass legislation
that would compel employers to allow Sikhs to wear turbans and
the kirpan, a ceremonial dagger.
The Sikh Federation said that it had identified 50 marginal
constituencies in which a united Sikh vote could determine the
In the House of Lords on Monday, a group of Muslim peers and
religious leaders announced that their own manifesto would also be
released before the election.
Think-tank study looks at voting by
affiliation.Research by the think tank Theos has found that,
contrary to the claims of some Conservative MPs that the Church of
England is full of people with a left-wing viewpoint, most
Anglicans in fact vote Conservative. The research shows that, in
every election since 1966 (with the exception of 1997), Anglicans
were twice as likely to vote Conservative as vote Labour.
The leaders of the main parties have also responded to a report
from the Evangelical Alliance about Evangelicals and the election
(News, 20 February). The leader of the Opposition, Ed Miliband,
said that he had been inspired by the example of Christians he had
met who were running foodbanks or youth clubs. He said that the
Labour Party shared Evangelicals' desire to combat poverty.
Nick Clegg said that he was "hugely encouraged" by Evangelicals'
commitment to democracy. David Cameron declined to comment, but the
Conservative party chairman, Grant Shapps, said that the Government
had brought down income inequality - a key priority for
Evangelicals, the survey suggests.