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Black Majority Churches slam ‘British rule’

27 February 2015


Speaking out: Dr Aldred addressing the General Synod as an ecumenical representative, this month

Speaking out: Dr Aldred addressing the General Synod as an ecumenical representative, this month

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 foreign governments.

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 rule."

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 schools.

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 concerned with.

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 outcome.

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.

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