23 October 2014

Faith in politics but less faith in politicians, say Church young people

  • Conference tickets for Under 25s are available here

The Joint Public Issues Team (JPIT) of the Baptist Union of Great Britain, the Methodist Church and the United Reformed Church asked Christian young people about their attitudes to voting and politics. The young people were clear - they cared about politics, their faith had a major impact on how they voted - but they didn't think their voices were heard or have faith that politicians would deliver positive change.

The online survey was conducted in preparation for the JPIT conference, 'Love Your Neighbour: Think, Pray, Vote', where Archbishop Justin Welby will be the keynote speaker. The aim of the conference is to enthuse and equip Christians to be active in the run up to the general election. The Churches believe that the online survey shows that while many young people care deeply there is a need to heed their concerns about the political process.

In the UK voter turnout amongst 18 to 23 year olds is extremely low. Research carried out by YouGov in April this year indicated that of the 3.3 million young people entitled to vote for the first time in next year's general election, 7 May 2015, more than 2 million of them will not be voting.

Andrew Weston, Fellowship of the United Reformed Youth Moderator Elect, said: "It is a great shame that so many young people lack belief in the political system, fearing that their voices will be ignored."

The young Christians asked by the Churches said they would be more likely to vote if politicians engage directly with them. They also said that they are not given sufficient information with regards to policies and key issues, and that one way of overcoming this could also be through better political education in schools.

"It is vitally important that young people take the opportunity to have their say next May," Andrew continued, adding: "I'm really looking forward to the upcoming JPIT conference 'Love Your Neighbour: Think, Pray, Vote'... To have a space for young Christians to engage with key issues, including poverty, climate change and international affairs, in the context of their faith and the upcoming General Election is so valuable."

Tickets are available for Under 25s to attend the 'Love your neighbour: Think, Pray, Vote' conference, and workshops will cover issues that the survey revealed matter most to the young people - including poverty and social justice.

Rachel Allison, who co-ordinated the survey and worked with JPIT to help the team improve how churches talk about social justice to young people, said: "There are important questions to be asked about how politicians can engage with a seemingly untapped generation who could have a massive impact on the result of the election and the future of society."

Megan Thomas, Methodist Youth President, said: "There are many issues facing our country today that specifically impact on children and young people. We live in a country where housing is unaffordable, child poverty is on the increase and where there are constant financial challenges in education."

"Young people are passionate about politics and care about the key issues in our country, but it is important that we have all the facts. When voting we want to know that our voice will be heard and that our vote can make a difference. If you want to find out ways in which you can speak to politicians and how your vote can make a difference, don't miss the 'Love Your Neighbour: Think, Pray, Vote' conference."

The 'Love Your Neighbour: Think, Pray, Vote' conference takes place, Saturday 21 February 2015, Coventry Central Hall. Under 25s can register for tickets here.

1. The Joint Public Issues Team combines the expertise of the Baptist Union, the Methodist Church and the United Reformed Church in the area of public issues. The Team aims to enable our three Churches to work together in living out the gospel of Christ in the Church and in wider society. It aims to promote equality and justice by influencing those in power and by energising and supporting local congregations. www.jointpublicissues.org.uk
2. Further details of the survey can be found on the Joint Public Issues Team blog here.

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