christian.org.uk: 170,000 visits ahead of big vote

Tens of thousands of Christians have used http://www.christian.org.uk to gather information about the election ahead of casting their vote.

There has been a huge surge in traffic compared to the last election, suggesting that Christians have become far more engaged.

Since the beginning of April our website has been visited 170,000 times – more than a five-fold jump compared to the last election, when the site had 30,000 visits.

MPs’ Votes

Over 600,000 pages of news and resources have been read. In the month before the 2005 election that figure was 186,000 pages.

And our online database of MPs’ Votes – which shows how MPs have voted on a range of moral issues – has been accessed more than 114,000 times. Ahead of the last election it was used 53,000 times during April 2005.

Our manifesto-crunching election guide has been downloaded 30,000 times. Together with the 37,000 mailed out nationwide, this means the briefing has reached over one per cent of Britain’s six million regular churchgoers.

Significant

In what many believe will be a tight election, the votes of thousands of Christians may be a significant aspect of the election – particularly in marginal seats.

Two weeks ago, the BBC featured a report asking whether Christians will swing the election.

While some observers may be sceptical about the wider impact of the Christian vote, others have no doubts about its importance in key seats where even a few hundred Christian votes could decide the matter.

Big impact

Zoe Dixon, chair of the Liberal Democrats Christian Forum, said: “The difference it could make would be in a marginal seat. Everyone should elect the person they think would make the best MP for their area, almost regardless of party.

“We shouldn’t get side-tracked by the national agenda. Certainly we try to mobilise the Christian vote in our favour in constituencies.”

Elizabeth Berridge, chairman of the Conservative Christian Fellowship, said: “It could have a big impact. In some seats the church meeting is the only one candidates are asked to attend.

Character

“At this juncture, following the expenses scandal, Christians are going to be concerned with how someone comes across, whether they are genuine, what their character is like.”

Hundreds of churches have held hustings, where Christians and other members of the public had the chance to quiz candidates.

Stephen Beers, of the Christian Socialist Movement, said: “Anyone at all could be there, but it’s quite likely to have a fair number of Christians among the audience.”

Hustings

Last month it was reported that one in three constituencies were due to hold church hustings ahead of the General Election.

More than 220 churches had signed up, meaning that hundreds of parliamentary candidates have been questioned about a variety of moral and religious issues.

Many hustings were organised by Christian Action Research and Education (CARE), and other Christian groups are holding further meetings.