Christians Count communicates with the main political parties about the role of the Church in modern Britain.

13-04-10

In March, Christians Count wrote to the Conservatives, Labour, the Liberal Democrats and the SNP, asking them to answer four questions on the role of the church. The four questions were:

  1. Does the church have a role to play in 21st century Britain?
  2. If so, what role would your party see can or should be fulfilled by the church?
  3. As public finances are squeezed further in the next few years, do you envisage that there will be services currently offered by Government that maybe better placed to be delivered by the church? If so, which ones?
  4. What does your party consider is the appropriate balance between a church offering services for people whilst allowing people to hold a range of differing views and beliefs?

Despite the busy election period, we are starting to get answers to these questions back from the parties. As of the 8 April, Bess Mayhew from the Office of Nick Clegg for the Liberal Democrats, and the Rt Hon Stephen Timms (Labour) on behalf of the Prime Minister have responded.

You can read their replies by following the links below:

The Labour Party's view on Christians in Politics

The Liberal Democrat Party's view on Christians in Politics







Dear Mr Witty,

Thank you for your letter to the Prime Minister and i hope you don't mind me replying on his behalf. I enjoyed the letter, and agree with the approach you argue for.

When Gordon Brown became Prime Minister in 2007 he appointed me as Labour's first Vice-Chair for Faith Groups. He created the position because he understood and has continued to recognise the role and importance of Christians and people of faith in the fabric of our national life.

In a recent interview with Premier Christian Radio he said "I am a firm believer that faith is a great starting point for politics. Christian values have a bearing on political decisions from education to fair taxes. So i am pleased to see the depth of Christian activism in our nation today; ordinary people taking action in their communities, demonstrating their faith by serving their neighbours in all sorts of ways."

I agree with the Prime Minister that faith is a great starting point for politics. I've advocated a greater role for the Churches in areas ranging from employment support through to international development. Within Government i've supported colleagues in the communities department who have encouraged and recognised a range of faith based social action. Indeed, John Denham has just announced a prize to celebrate the best faith based contributions. John said "For millions of people faith plays an important role in their day to day lives. It is right that government recognises this role and supports the good work being done." He has also recently affirmed the value of faith based groups contracting with local authorities to deliver public services.

We need the values of faith to inform our public policy and the public service challenges we face in the future. Better cooperation between the Church and the Labour Government is one of the goals behind Churches Update, a regular publication by the Party. I've enclosed the latest copy here and you can find past editions on the Party's website at http://www2.labour.org/faith

I do hope this letter and Churches Updates reassures of the Labour Party and Gordon Brown's commitment to work with the Churches for the great good of our nation.

Please do not hesitate to get back in touch with me if i can help further.

Yours Sincerely

Rt Hon Stephen Timms MP

Labour Party

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Dear Witty,

Many thanks for your email to Nick Clegg MP. Nick has asked me to contact you on his behalf. I apologise for the delay in responding but I hope you'll understand that, due to the sheer volume of correspondence that Nick has been receiving, it can take some time for us to reply.

Liberal Democrats believe that the Church has a large part to play in a fair and open society, in which all people's religious convictions are respected and valued. Nick has enormous respect for people who have religious faith, and the important role that religion plays in our national life from spiritual leadership through to community work and education.

Nick is extremely keen to work with religious leaders of all faiths in the coming months and years, to discuss and address the challenges that face Britain, and as MP for Sheffield Hallam, Nick has met with local Christian leaders, and leaders of other religious groups. We recognise the contribution which people of faith make to British society up and down the country, and we have many committed Christians among us. We also recognise the importance of celebrating the Christian contribution to our heritage.

Thank you once again for emailing.

Best wishes,

Bess Mayhew

Office of Nick Clegg MP

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