Churches urged to take action ahead of European elections

• Election pack highlights BNP threat

On 4 June 2009 every adult in the UK will have the opportunity to vote in the European Parliament Elections. There will also be some English County Council elections.

A briefing from the Baptist Union of Great Britain, the Methodist Church and the United Reformed Church explains the importance of citizenship and participating in democratic processes.

A new toolkit has also been produced by the three churches to help equip and affirm local church leaders to take action to counter far-right and racist politics.

Methodist President Revd Stephen Poxon said, "Voting isn't just a right - it is a privilege that carries great responsibility. A high turnout at the ballot box is good for democracy and society and will make it harder for extremist parties to succeed."

"The European Union directly influences many aspects of our lives," added Revd John Marsh, Moderator of the General Assembly of the United Reformed Church, "The European Parliament is the only EU body elected by its citizens, and it is a powerful and important legislature for all 27 member countries."

The briefing and toolkit are available online at www.jointpublicissues.org.uk/jpitpolitics .

Revd Jonathan Edwards, General Secretary of the Baptist Union of Great Britain, said, "The toolkit for local church leaders is designed to help equip ministers and lay people alike with ideas and information about what they can do to counter racist politics. The appropriation of Christian language and imagery by the BNP is deeply offensive - we need churches across Britain to live out a faith that is open and inclusive, rooted in a commitment to love our neighbours as we love ourselves."

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