General Election 2017: archbishops highlight the place of faith in British life
- Faith has a central role to play in politics and this general election, the Archbishops of Canterbury and York said in a pastoral letter to the parishes and chaplaincies. They urge people to set aside “apathy and cynicism” and draw new inspiration from the ancient Christian virtues of “love, trust and hope”.
- The three-page letter, read out in St Barnabas by Derek our vicar, encourages voters to remember Britain’s Christian history and heritage as well as a concern for future generations and God’s creation as they make their decisions.
- Following divisions of recent years, it calls for reconciliation drawing on shared British values.. It upholds marriage, family and households as the building blocks of society which should be “nurtured and supported” as a “blessing”. It recognizes the duty of Christians to play an active part in the General election
- The letter also calls for space for faith in political debate and says politicians must be free to speak openly about their own beliefs and convictions and treated fairly for doing so. “Our Christian heritage, our current choices and our obligations to future generations and to God’s world will all play a shaping role.”
- The Archbishops highlight major concerns over poverty, housing and the dangers of “crushing” debt among other issues.
- They call for a generous and hospitable welcome to refugees and migrants but also warn against being “deaf to the legitimate concerns” about the scale of migration into some communities.
- They also single out the importance of standing up for those suffering persecution on grounds of faith around the world.
- The contribution of people of faith to the well-being of the nation is immense – schools, food banks, social support, childcare among many others – and is freely offered. But the role of faith in society is not just measured in terms of service delivery.
- “The new Parliament, if it is to take religious freedom seriously, must treat as an essential task the improvement of religious literacy.”
- They add: “Political responses to the problems of religiously-motivated violence and extremism, at home and overseas, must also recognise that solutions will not be found simply in further secularisation of the public realm.”
The full pastoral letter can be read here.