Churches urge people to vote wisely on May 1st

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

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

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

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

Local churches are encouraged to issue statements condemningpolicies and practices that are incompatible with Christian faithand to work with other community groups in taking a stand againstextremist parties in their areas.

Rachel Lampard, Methodist Secretary for Parliamentary andPolitical Affairs, says; "Churches have urged people not to votefor candidates who promote racist policies which are completelyincompatible with the Christian call to love one another. Not onlyshould we reject racist and intolerant parties, but we shouldactively work to counter those who seek to stir up hatred. Usingyour vote is essential to ensure that extremist parties, such asthe BNP, do not get elected."

Christians in London are invited to attend a hustings event forthe London Mayoral candidates which is being organised by theLondon Churches Group for Social Action and the EvangelicalAlliance. 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 atwww.jointpublicissues.org.uk