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Opinion – UK General Election; Faithworks Statement

April 21, 2010 1 comment

I am indebted to my good friend, Phil Groom for looking incisively – as he usually does – at the Westminster 2010 Declaration. Clearly, as Phil indicates, there is concern amongst other Christians regarding the wording and general thrust of the said Declaration. Good debate is always healthy and I for one have enjoyed reading and appreciating the various arguments.

For my part, I continue to find the Westminster 2010 Declaration useful as I tend to take its general points at face value. I regard it as helpful in terms of highlighting more widely the growing concerns about the continuing assault on Christian values and rights in this country – perceived or otherwise.

There are always two sides to every story. So – for the sake of balance – here is the Faithworks Statement that Phil has mentioned;

Faithworks believes that participation in democracy is crucial, and welcomes initiatives that facilitate this.  However Faithworks will not be signing the Westminster Declaration, as it suggests that government should be chosen according to their responses to only three issues – protection of human life, marriage and conscience – rather than the impact of the spectrum of their policies locally, nationally and internationally.    Faithworks rejects the implicit suggestion that a government who protects embryos, upholds the uniqueness of heterosexual marriage and protects freedom to express Christian beliefs is the government Christians should vote for without first examining their stance and policies regarding education, health care, welfare, poverty reduction, international development and the commitment of the local MP to the community he / she serves.  Faithworks represents 22,000 Christians from a variety of theological and political backgrounds, our theology is inclusive and not imposing, and our purpose is to encourage people to express their faith through serving others without discrimination.  In contrast, the Westminster 2010 Declaration sets Christians up on a moral high ground and implicitly creates divisiveness. It does this at just the time when the church’s morality has been called into question across the world.     

I have a great deal of respect for Steve Chalke and for the amazing work that he does through so many of his organisations around the world. For that reason, I am a torn between the two positions. There is much truth in both statements.

Perhaps someone should try to put the two statements together and reach a Declaration that all Christians can sign up too with good conscience? Maybe I’m just being an idealist and perhaps that is simply impossible. What do you think?

Opinion – UK General Election; Westminster 2010 Declaration

April 13, 2010 2 comments

The UK goes to the polls on 6th May 2010. Commentators are already describing the result of  the General Election as likely to be too close to call. In my view this is proving to be a difficult election for many, including myself, in which to vote – the main parties are really very similar in their positions on so many of the issues and UK politics in general is increasingly mistrusted. There seems to be an air of disillusionment about the whole affair.

Thirty senior Christian (mostly Evangelical) leaders, including the former Archbishop of Canterbury Lord Carey and Peter Maiden (OM), launched a Christian Manifesto; ‘Westminster 2010: Declaration of Christian Conscience’ on Easter Sunday.

It’s well worth reading and is, I believe, a positive and useful tool for all in the wider Christian community.

Westminster 2010 is a declaration aimed to appeal to UK Christians of all denominations who subscribe to the historic Christian faith and who hold orthodox Christian beliefs about life, marriage and conscience.

It was initially inspired by the ‘Manhattan Declaration’, which was launched in November 2009 and has now been signed by over 400,000 US Christians. Westminster 2010, however, is a completely independent initiative by UK Christians focused on UK issues.

The Declaration calls upon all parliamentary candidates to pledge that they will ‘respect, uphold and protect the right of Christians to hold and express Christian beliefs and act according to Christian conscience’.

One excellent feature of the site is that you are able to search online to find the various parliamentary candidates in your area and ascertain their likely position on the Westminster 2010 Declaration.

I applaud this important Christian initiative and trust it will be helpful to anyone who, like me, is struggling to work out just who to vote for in May.

For more details log onto www.westminster2010.org.uk

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