The Christian Institute’s Election Briefing 2017 is published today, urging churchgoers to challenge election candidates and to go and vote.
It will be sent out to tens of thousands of homes and churches across the country over the coming days.
Importance of voting
As a registered charity The Christian Institute does not say how to vote, but we do emphasise the importance of casting a vote and being informed before doing so.
Dissecting major policy areas of nine political parties, including the Conservatives, Labour and the Liberal Democrats, the 48-page Election Briefing 2017 emphasises that “voting is a privilege and a serious responsibility”.
“Billions of people around the world do not enjoy the same freedoms as we have in the UK. We elect Members of Parliament and so ultimately the Government. We help choose Caesar” (Matthew 22:21).
Every area of life
Election Briefing 2017 warns against complacency and the perception that this is simply ‘the Brexit election’, stressing that MPs in the next session of Parliament will be passing laws affecting every area of life.
It says: “The new Parliament elected on 8 June 2017 could vote on laws affecting religious liberty, freedom of speech, transsexual rights, abortion, designer babies, assisted suicide, teaching on marriage and relationships in schools, divorce liberalisation, drugs legalisation and prostitution.
“These are all issues of concern to Christians. Some are ‘conscience votes’, where MPs are free to vote without a party whip, which underlines the importance of finding out where individual election candidates stand.”
Commenting ahead of the publication of Election Briefing 2017, Colin Hart, Director of The Christian Institute, said: “It is vital that Christians play an active part in the forthcoming General Election. We must speak up for the most vulnerable in our society – the elderly and the unborn.
“And the many freedoms that we enjoy are under sustained attack and are being eroded. We must reverse this trend. The freedom for Christians to preach the Gospel and live and work in obedience to Christ is fundamental. It is right to challenge those seeking our vote.”
High on the list of the Institute’s concerns is how religious liberty is being increasingly challenged by aggressive secularism that is seeking to force Christians from the public square.
The Briefing notes that: “There have been cases where churches have come into conflict with the police because of a false accusation being made. Street preachers have been arrested. Christians have lost their jobs for answering questions about their faith or for taking an ethical stand. Christians in business have come into conflict with equality laws and faced fines for holding to the belief that marriage is between a man and a woman”.
Mr Hart continued: “Worryingly, traditional views held by most Christians and many others on issues such as marriage being the lifelong institution between one man and one woman are being portrayed as extreme and in breach of the law by an aggressive and litigious secularism.
“This bullying and intolerant approach is a deliberate attempt to push Christians and others of faith from the public square.”
Published ahead of the official release of the main party manifestos Election Briefing 2017 assesses their publicly stated policies and, where appropriate, their records in office. It highlights policy positions to which the Bible clearly speaks, including stances on marriage, assisted suicide, drugs, abortion, gambling, and the Modern Slavery Act, as well as religious liberty.
It notes that Evangelicals are very concerned about the Conservatives’ extremism policy, which includes former Education Secretary Nicky Morgan’s plan to send Ofsted inspectors into churches in England to inspect “youth activities” such as choir practice, bell ringing and Sunday Schools.
Highlighting the Conservative Party’s record, Election Briefing 2017 notes that the Government did not close down any school connected to the notorious Trojan Horse scandal involving some Muslims in Birmingham, but did close a Christian school in Durham for failing a ‘British values’ inspection.
Labour’s opposition to banning sex-selective abortion – which disproportionately affects unborn girls – is highlighted, as are the attempts by Welsh Labour to criminalise parents by introducing a ban on smacking. The introduction in 2007 of the Sexual Orientation Regulations, which forced the closure of Roman Catholic adoption agencies and were used to sue Christian B&B owners for operating a ‘married couples only’ policy for double rooms, is also considered.
It also notes the Liberal Democrats’ opposition to an attempt to block violent pornography and their support for narrowing employment protections for churches and religious organisations, and legalising cannabis.
We also believe that much more needs to be done to protect the rights of Christians abroad and end the appalling persecution which sees around 100,000 Christians killed every year for their faith.
Finally, Christians are urged to contact their candidates and to weigh up who and what they are voting for – there are men and women of integrity in parties across the political spectrum.
The General Election provides an opportunity for Christians to speak out and play their part in voting. Governments can make it easier or harder to be a Christian or to share the Gospel. Believers have to make a judgment about how their vote can be used to best effect.
All the main GB parties are assessed within Election Briefing 2017.
It and other Christian Institute resources for the General Election 2017 are available at christian.org.uk/election and can be ordered from The Christian Institute on 0191 281 5664, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.