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Don’t undermine the EU, say bishops

03 June 2016


Mixing it: the Vote Leave battle bus, carrying Boris Johnson and the Justice Secretary, Michael Gove, arrives for a visit to a clothing and uniform manufacturers in Accrington, Lancashire, on Wednesday, passing a mobile Vote Remain poster depicting the UKIP leader, Nigel Farage and Mr Johnson

Mixing it: the Vote Leave battle bus, carrying Boris Johnson and the Justice Secretary, Michael Gove, arrives for a visit to a clothing and uniform ma...

THE Archbishop of Wales, Dr Barry Morgan, and seven other bishops are among 37 faith leaders who have signed a letter warning EU referendum voters against “undermining” the international institutions charged with tackling the great challenges of the day.

“Faith is about integration and building bridges, not about isolation and erecting barriers,” they wrote, in a letter to The Observer, published last week. “As leaders and senior figures of faith communities, we urge our co-religionists and others to think about the implications of a leave vote for the things about which we are most passionate. . . So many of the challenges we face today can only be addressed in a European, and indeed a global, context: combatting poverty in the developing world, confronting climate change and providing the stability that is essential to tackling the current migration crisis.

“We hope that when voting on June 23, people will reflect on whether undermining the international institutions charged with delivering these goals could conceivably contribute to a fairer, cleaner, and safer world.”

Among the signatories are the Bishops of Ely, Liverpool, Worcester, and Gibraltar in Europe; the Rt Revd Stephen Platten, Assistant Bishop in London; the Archbishop of Wales, Dr Barry Morgan; the former Archbishop of Canterbury Lord Williams; and the Rt Revd Lord Harries, a former Bishop of Oxford, in addition to representatives of the Muslim, Hindu, Jewish and Sikh faiths.

“As a person of faith I want us to remain in the European Union,” the Bishop of Liverpool, the Rt Revd Paul Bayes, said on Monday. “It’s not because I believe God has taken sides, but because of a vision of sharing, unity, and community. That vision holds Europe together at its best. To me it is far more attractive and inspiring than the huff-and-puff, imprecise, buccaneering, defensive vision of those who want us to leave.

“I regret that those of us who support Remain have not said so more positively. There is good reason to fear leaving, and we certainly need to listen to the advice of economists and institutions who ask us to count the high cost of Brexit.

"But in the end I want us to stay because unity, community, and peace are the fruits of the European project and are worth treasuring. The European Union is not by any means perfect. But it is worth perfecting.”

Among the prominent Christians who have spoken out in favour of leaving the EU are the former Archbishop of Canterbury Lord Carey; the priest-in-charge of St Mary’s, Newington, Dr Giles Fraser; and the former MP Anne Widdecombe. A poll of 4000 people conducted by Populus last month suggested that Christians were more likely to vote to leave Europe than other faith groups. Forty-three per cent of the Christian respondents leaned towards Brexit, and 26 per cent towards Remain. Muslim, Sikh and Hindu respondents were all more likely to lean towards Remain.


'This referendum serves no-one'Leader comment


'The Church's identity is naturally European'Staying in Europe enables the UK to join in fellowship with Churches worldwide, argues John Arnold


'The EU at a crossroads'Vote Leave to help the poor in Britain, says Frank Field


'How Britain looks from the EU' - We consulted Anglican chaplains in EU countries about the view from their inside-out perspective

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