With the general election scheduled for May 6, the leaders of Britain’s three main political parties have been canvassing for the Christian vote in recent days.
Steve Chalke, a Baptist minister and founder of Faithworks, has interviewed Prime Minister Gordon Brown of Labor, Conservative David Cameron and Liberal Democrat Nick Clegg ahead of the election. The video interviews were available for churches to download.
In their interviews, the political leaders praised the contribution of faith groups and agreed that they have a vital role to play in delivering services in the next administration. Here are excerpts from each:
“I’ve always said that faith-based organizations have got a great role to play and that we should encourage faith-based organizations, alongside other organizations, of course, to play the part in delivering community care, social services.”
“In many cases, some of the services that are the newest of services have been pioneered by people from faith groups.”
“Good healthy communities need good healthy institutions. And that’s not just the state or the local council; it’s those organizations in the community that people identify with – the youth club, the pub, the post office and, of course, the church.
“And the church should be active in the community, reaching out to people, encouraging them to help each other.”
“I think churches in many respects and the community groups that work out of churches will have an even bigger role, because Whitehall can’t do everything.”
Nancy Doyle, Faithworks team leader, said the interviews show that “now, as never before, politicians have a richer understanding of the contribution of faith groups, and the fear of engaging with faith groups to deliver services has diminished.”
The interviews coincide with the Faithworks 2010 declaration, which calls for government recognition of the Christian contribution to local communities and acknowledgment that the motivation behind this contribution is faith. It also calls for the encouragement of further initiatives underpinned by legislation.
The leaders have also recorded a message to back a campaign by Christians in Politics, the politically neutral organization combining the Christian groups from the three main parties.
The Join The Party campaign encourages Christians to get beyond “just shouting from the sidelines” and become part of the political process. The video clip is introduced by the Archbishop of York John Sentamu, who encourages Christians “to vote, to engage, to converse, to discuss.”