Tagged: church leaders

North East Christians call for end to ‘political short-termism’ ahead of General Election

North East Christians are calling for an end to “political short-termism” and urge the next Government to take issues like homelessness and food poverty seriously.

A new poll by Church Action on Poverty also reveals practising Christians are frustrated by church leaders’ failure to challenge politicians.

The poll, carried out by ComRes, highlights a deep dissatisfaction with Government among the region’s congregations.

It found:

  • Eight in ten (82%) Christians would vote for a party with a positive long-term vision for society;
  • Nine in ten (90%) think politicians are more interested in short-term political concerns;
  • 74% believe churches and church leaders don’t talk enough in public about issues like food poverty, homelessness and tax avoidance;
  • Four in five (85%) say that churches and church leaders do not effectively challenge politicians to communicate a long-term positive vision for society.

Minister Simon Lawton, of Newcastle’s Elim Pentecostal Church, said:

“I’m not at all surprised by the results of this survey. I would imagine that most people would agree with its findings.

“I believe people long for a society where compassion, justice and love and respect for your fellow man is central.

“Naturally we all have a part to play in this. The coming election is an opportunity for all of us, especially Christians, to host hustings and interview prospective candidates in order to make an informed decision.

“We can make a difference and we have a responsibility to make our vote count locally.”

The charity Churches Together is now calling on church-goers to challenge the region’s would-be MPs during hustings it will organise in the run-up to the General Election to coincide with its Vision 2020 of the Good Society report.

It comes ahead of Church Action on Poverty Sunday, this weekend as the charity calls for politicians to put forward a vision for a better society and to reject negative campaigning.

Niall Cooper, director of Church Action on Poverty, said:

“As the Bible says ‘Without a vision, the people perish.’

“Christians are crying out for politicians to share a positive long-term vision for society – but politicians and political parties are currently failing to do so.

“But today’s poll is also a challenge to the churches to speak publicly about our own vision of a good society.

“By organising local hustings events, we can challenge those who want to represent us in Parliament to go beyond the usual political short-termism and engage in a positive debate about the kind of society they – and we – want to live in by the year 2020.”

Bob Fyffe, general secretary of Churches Together, added:

“The emphasis church-goers so often want is a shared vision of the Common Good. How do we build long-term sustainable communities where justice and compassion are at the centre of all that we do?

“It is having a vision for those who are on the margins and feel that there is no one there for them.

“How do we build local communities where people of faith and those of no faith can share common values and live in harmony, where everyone has a proper sense of belonging?

“Taking part in the democratic process is of fundamental importance to being a good citizen. The church hustings allow people to come together and make informed decisions which are central to their lives and prosperity.”

Source –  Newcastle Evening Chronicle,  13 Feb 2015

Church Leaders Slam “Punitive” Welfare Cuts As Half A Million Left To Go Hungry

27 church leaders, including a number of Anglican bishops, have slammed coalition benefit cuts and “punitive” sanctions in an unprecedented attack on the government’s welfare policies.

In a letter to the Daily Mirror, the church leaders warn that “one in five mothers report regularly skipping meals to better feed their children” and others are having to face the unenviable decision between eating and heating as “food prices have gone up 30% in just five years”.

The church leaders argue that half a million people are having to turn to food banks to feed themselves as their families, and that it was time for society to “face up to the fact that over half of people using food banks have been put in that situation by cut backs and failures in the benefit system”.

According to the signatories of the letter “5,500 people were admitted to hospital in the UK for malnutrition last year”.

They say that there is a “moral imperative” for society and the coalition government to act on food poverty and take immediate action to “make sure that work pays, and to ensure that the welfare system provides a robust last line of defence against hunger”.

The letter sent to the Daily Mirror reads as follows:

“Britain is the world’s seventh largest economy and yet people are going hungry.

“Half a million people have visited food banks in the UK since last Easter and 5,500 people were admitted to hospital in the UK for malnutrition last year.

“One in five mothers report regularly skipping meals to better feed their children, and even more families are just one unexpected bill away from waking up with empty cupboards.

“We often hear talk of hard choices. Surely few can be harder than that faced by the tens of thousands of older people who must “heat or eat” each winter, harder than those faced by families whose wages have stayed flat while food prices have gone up 30% in just five years.

“Yet beyond even this we must, as a society, face up to the fact that over half of people using food banks have been put in that situation by cut backs to and failures in the benefit system, whether it be payment delays or punitive sanctions.

“On March 5th Lent will begin. The Christian tradition has long been at this time to fast, and by doing so draw closer to our neighbour and closer to God.

“On March 5th we will begin a time of fasting while half a million regularly go hungry in Britain. We urge those of all faith and none, people of good conscience, to join with us.

“There is an acute moral imperative to act. Hundreds of thousands of people are doing so already, as they set up and support food banks across the UK. But this is a national crisis, and one we must rise to.

“We call on government to do its part: acting to investigate food markets that are failing, to make sure that work pays, and to ensure that the welfare system provides a robust last line of defence against hunger.”

Source – Welfare News Service, 19 Feb 2014