A Christian case for bishops to back Lords reform

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Commenting on the huge response to Power2010's 'write to a bishop' initaitive on House of Lords reform (http://www.power2010.org.uk/faith), Simon Barrow, co-director of the think-tank Ekklesia, which has worked closely with the political reform coalition on the venture, said:

"The unprecedented degree of interest shown in enlisting the Lords Spiritual to back change, rather than to be washed up on the shores of history, shows a real appetite for democratic renewal. The idea that 'people don't care', which has often been used to justify an outmoded status quo, is simply not tenable any more.

"When a new ICM poll is released tomorrow {See update below} we will find out just how many Christians, let alone other members of the public, think it is wrong for bishops to be given automatic and unaccountable seats in parliament - a constitutional set-up that leaves the UK in the inglorious company of Iran, and which now looks unsustainable as well as indefensible.

"In a plural society there are plenty of opportunities for people of faith to speak out and participate in public life on equal terms with others.

"Reserved places and special privileges for the religious, and in this case the male leaders of one denomination from one part of the nation, are not just unnecessary - they also directly undermine the integrity of those who cling to them.

"It is worth recalling that the founder of Christianity explicitly told his followers to live by good example, to show special concern for those on the margins, and to reject ideas of claiming places at 'the top table' or 'lording it' over others.

"So the choice that now faces the Lords Spiritual is a basic Christian one; it does not simply mean being swayed by public opinion."

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UPDATES

Breaking News: Poll says most Christians want bishops to reform, not 'lord it' in the House - http://ekklesia.co.uk/node/11514

Full ICM poll results on Lords reform, bishops in parliament, religion in public life - http://ekklesia.co.uk/node/11513

Ekklesia Press Release: 74% say it's 'wrong' for bishops to have appointed places in Parliament - http://ekklesia.co.uk/node/11512

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More on the Power2010 'write to a bishop' initiative, which has so far resulted in 52,000 letters sent: http://www.power2010.org.uk/faith