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Evangelicals still undecided about General Election vote, new survey says

09 May 2024

MOST Evangelicals plan to vote in the forthcoming General Election, but one quarter have not decided which party to support, new research from the Evangelical Alliance suggests.

The charity surveyed 1469 people last November and December, of whom 1380 described themselves as Evangelical Christians. Of these, 93 per cent said that they were “certain or likely” to vote in the forthcoming General Election, which must be called before January 2025. The Government has yet to announce a date.

The findings of the survey were published on Thursday in a new report, Thinking Faithfully About Politics: A snapshot of how Evangelicals think and act as they engage in politics.

Ten per cent of Evangelical respondents were members of a political party and/or campaigning for one. More than one third (38 per cent) said that they were “engaged” with politics beyond voting in elections. Only 12 per cent of the respondents said that they trusted politicians, however — marginally higher than the nine per cent of the general population. None the less, three-quarters of the Evangelical respondents said that they believed that Jesus would befriend politicians of all parties.

Most of the Evangelical respondents (87 per cent) said that they were more likely to vote for a party that was committed to protecting free speech in the workplace. Related to this, almost three-quarters said that preaching and teaching the gospel should not be confined to the Church, and that political issues should not be left solely to politicians.

Fifty-eight per cent of the respondents said that a pledge to help people most in need was one of the main factors that would determine which party they would vote for. More than half (54 per cent) said that they planned to vote for the party “most closely aligned with Christian/biblical values”, and 48 per cent for the party that they thought would best manage the economy.

The survey found that Evangelicals did not vote uniformly; nor did they always vote for the same party over the years.

The report compares the latest survey findings with a similar survey conducted by the Evangelical Alliance in 2014. The number of Evangelical respondents who intend to vote for Labour has risen by 11 per cent in that time (from 31 to 42 per cent), while the Evangelical vote for the Conservatives has increased by just one per cent (from 28 to 29 per cent).

The report also compares the findings with general-public statistics taken from Ipsos MORI Latest UK Opinion Polls. Evangelical thinking on who would be the best Prime Minister out of Rishi Sunak and Sir Keir Starmer was roughly in line with that of the general population: 37 per cent of Evangelicals supported Sir Keir (compared with 34 per cent of the population), and 24 per cent supported Mr Sunak (21 per cent of the population).

Evangelical women were more likely than men to vote Labour.

Asked about the top issues facing the UK, Evangelicals listed in this order: the economy; poverty; equality and justice; integrity/trust; Christian values; cost of living/inflation; climate; health/well-being; immigration; and division/unity.

The general public had different priorities: inflation/prices; the economy; immigration; NHS/health care; housing; poverty/inequality; climate; lack of faith in politics/politicians/government; education; and crime/law and order.

The director of advocacy at the Evangelical Alliance, Danny Webster, said: “The findings are both encouraging and insightful. There’s great diversity in how Evangelicals vote, the issues they care about, and how they put this into practice. . . There’s appetite for more engagement in politics, but also distrust of politicians and frustration with political parties.

“Ahead of the General Election, we want to see Evangelical Christians praying for politics, equipped to think and vote faithfully, and to build relationships with candidates that will last far beyond election day.”

The chief executive of the Alliance, Gavin Calver, said: “This is an important year for the UK, and I pray that this resource will support, encourage, and serve our membership in the election ahead.”

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