17 April 2008

Churches urge people to vote wisely on May 1st

Three Christian denominations are urging voters to take a stand against racist and extreme political parties as election day for local councils in England and Wales draws near.

1 May 2008 is election day for many local councils as well as for the Mayor of London and the Greater London Assembly. A new briefing from the Methodist Church, United Reformed Church and Baptist Union of Great Britain encourages people to use their vote wisely.

Simon Loveitt, Convenor of the Church and Society Committee for the United Reformed Church, says; "Politics is not just for Westminster. Local elections are a chance to have your say about the issues affecting your community. Many are daunted by the information available, but this briefing demystifies local elections and offers a place to start making your voice heard on the issues that matter."

"It's very easy to criticise politicians from a distance," adds Graham Sparkes, Head of Faith and Unity at the Baptist Union of Great Britain, "but as Christians we are called to be fully involved in politics. We need to be engaged in community life, holding politicians to account for their decisions but also taking our democratic responsibilities seriously."

Local churches are encouraged to issue statements condemning policies and practices that are incompatible with Christian faith and to work with other community groups in taking a stand against extremist parties in their areas.

Rachel Lampard, Methodist Secretary for Parliamentary and Political Affairs, says; "Churches have urged people not to vote for candidates who promote racist policies which are completely incompatible with the Christian call to love one another. Not only should we reject racist and intolerant parties, but we should actively work to counter those who seek to stir up hatred. Using your vote is essential to ensure that extremist parties, such as the BNP, do not get elected."

Christians in London are invited to attend a hustings event for the London Mayoral candidates which is being organised by the London Churches Group for Social Action and the Evangelical Alliance. The hustings will take place at St-Martin-in-the-Fields, Trafalgar Square on 23 April from 1800-2000.

The briefing offers links to further resources and is available at www.jointpublicissues.org.uk

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