Leaders of three large Free Churches in Britain have issued a joint statement encouraging the voting public in Britain to use the forthcoming European elections to back major change on global finance, climate and international poverty.
In a new statement, they echo calls to isolate the British National Party and candidates who stand for xenephobic or narrow self-interest agendas. Voters will also be involved in local government polls.
The Rev Jonathan Edwards (General Secretary of the Baptist Union of Great Britain), the Rev Stephen Poxon (President of the Methodist Conference), and the Rev Dr Kirsty Thorpe (Co-Moderator Elect of the United Reformed Church General Assembly) declared:
“We call on UK Christians to give voice to their values by voting at next week’s European Parliamentary Elections on June 4.
“In a world grappling with global financial meltdown, climate change and poverty it is more important than ever that UK citizens choose their representatives carefully.
“Voting is a right, but it’s also the right thing to do. It is a chance to make our voices heard in the midst of the current political turmoil. Many feel disillusioned with mainstream political parties, and the scandal over MPs’ expenses has emphasized the need for our politicians to be held accountable.
“But we must hold our representatives accountable for more than just their expenses. They are accountable for enacting policies that promote justice and seek the common good. Extremist parties promoting values and policies which are incompatible with Christian beliefs need to be faced down with a high voter turnout.
“We implore all Christians around the UK to vote next week and to use their vote positively for the values and interests they believe in.
“This week the Church will be celebrating Pentecost, when God’s Holy Spirit was poured out on God’s people. In the coming days we hope that people across the European Union will discern the Spirit’s leading and after prayerful consideration. will use their vote to support peace, justice and the integrity of creation.”
Last week, the United Reformed Church’s Mission Council passed a statement urging church members to counter the BNP threat.
The Archbishops of Canterbury and York also issued a statement on 24 May 2009, speaking of the elections as an ‘opportunity for renewing the vision of a community united by mutual respect, high ethical standards and the pursuit of justice and peace’.
An opinion poll conducted by ComRes and commissioned by the religion and society think-tank Ekklesia also suggests that the public are keen for more independent voices in the political system to stand up to corporate interests and corruption.