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Congregations are offered a heap of election guidance

19 May 2017


CHRISTIANS looking for guidance in the run-up to next month’s election will have no shortage of offers of help: bishops, charities, pressure groups, and Churches have all produced resources for the last three weeks of the campaign.

The Roman Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales has released a short letter to the faithful offering its reflections on the election, and urging RCs to vote.

“Please do vote. Your vote is a matter of conscience. It is your judgement about all that God wants of us, both personally and as a society,” the letter said.

Combating injustice, protecting the family, looking after the environment, and upholding human dignity were the four key principles RCs should consider when deciding how to cast their ballot, the bishops say, quoting Pope Francis’s 2013 encyclical Evangelii Gaudium.

Candidates should be grilled on their position on EU citizens in the UK after Brexit, assisted suicide, immigration and refugees, protecting the international-aid budget, and state-funded RC schools, the letter also said.

Churches Together in Britain and Ireland has launched a website — www.churcheselection.org.uk — which includes where to find a local hustings, resources to help Christians decide how to vote, and news on what interventions bishops and Churches have made during the campaign.

Not to be outdone, the Evangelical Alliance has also put together a website — election.eauk.org — which urges Christians to vote for a better society built on four virtues: love, truth, justice, and freedom.

As well as blogs on why Christian should vote, the website features a guide to putting on your own hustings, and a list of hustings taking place across Britain.

The Christian Institute has produced a 48-page briefing on the election, with a chapter on each party standing, including two fringe groups: The Christian Party and the Christian People’s Alliance.

While the charity cannot, and does not, endorse any particular party, it urges Christians to vote with more than just Brexit in mind, noting that the next parliament could vote on “laws affecting religious liberty, freedom of speech, transsexual rights, abortion, designer babies, assisted suicide, teaching on marriage and relationships in schools, divorce liberalisation, drugs legalisation and prostitution”.

The Joint Public Issues Team — comprised of the Baptist Union, the Methodists, the Church of Scotland, and the United Reformed Church — have put together their own briefing, suggesting Christians ask “Who is my neighbour?” when casting their ballot.

The four key issues it highlights are the UK’s new relationship with the EU, migration and the asylum system, poverty and inequality, and Britain’s role in the world.

Christians are “called to draw attention to the needs of the oppressed, to speak out with the marginalised, and perhaps to highlight issues that are overlooked by mainstream coverage”, the briefing argues.

The umbrella community organising group Citizens UK, which includes hundreds of churches and congregations, has pledged that its local leaders will meet with over one hundred parliamentary candidates to develop lasting relationships with those who are eventually elected.papa

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