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 ofGreat Britain, the Methodist Church and the United Reformed Churchasked Christian young people about their attitudes to voting andpolitics. The young people were clear - they cared about politics,their faith had a major impact on how they voted - but they didn'tthink their voices were heard or have faith that politicians woulddeliver positive change.

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

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

Andrew Weston, Fellowship of the United Reformed Youth ModeratorElect, said: "It is a great shame that so many young people lackbelief in the political system, fearing that their voices will beignored."

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

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

Tickets are available for Under 25s to attend the 'Loveyour neighbour: Think, Pray, Vote' conference, and workshopswill cover issues that the survey revealed matter most to the youngpeople - including poverty and social justice.

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

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

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

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

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