Tagged: Church

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

Bedroom Tax: Father Of Four Threatened To ‘Blow Up’ His Home

> So far its only individuals who are reaching the point of no return. How long before whole sectors of society blow up ?

A father of four children threatened to ‘blow up’ his own home yesterday (4 June 2014) as he faced eviction due to the government’s controversial ‘bedroom tax’ housing policy.

52 year-old Michael Hilton from Church, East Lancashire, had been living in his social home for 30 years before being ‘hounded’ by his social landlord, Hyndburn Homes, to cover the shortfall in his rent since September 2013.

Mr Hilton was told that he would have to contribute toward the cost of his rent because a spare bedroom in his home was not being used, even though his children sometimes occupied the bedroom when they came to visit.

Mr Hilton had been stockpiling gas canisters at his home  and warned bailiffs that there would be an ‘explosion’ if they tried to enter.

Bailiffs reported the incident to the police who arrived at the property  with six cars, two police vans, police dogs, a riot van and two fire engines.

Mr Hilton’s distressed wife and son, Johnny, looked from behind police barriers as Michael barricaded himself in the property and refused to leave.

Onlookers soon gathered at the scene with one witness saying: “It’s the government this is. They are putting these taxes on vulnerable and poor people and look what happens.”

Another onlooker told the Lancashire Telegraph: “It’s been his home for 30 years. It’s a bit extreme but no-one would want to be thrown out like that”.

A police negotiator was sent to the house to try to convince Mr Hilton to leave the property voluntarily. However, police say that a decision was eventually reached to force entry into the house and detain Mr Hilton.

Mr Hilton’s 29 year-old son Johnny, said: “I knew something like this was going to happen. He has been hounded to pay bedroom tax since September last year.

“My dad has four children altogether and, sometimes, they stay here with him.

“In the eyes of the council, he has a spare room but, from his point of view, that’s a bedroom for his kids.

“I have even tried to speak to the council myself and try to sort it out. I called them last week and told them that my dad has mental health problems. He thinks he’s being persecuted.”

He has been driven to this and I think that he feels like he is making a stand for everyone that has been faced with the unfair bedroom tax. I am very worried about him.”

Nigel Fenton, managing director of Hyndburn Homes, said:

Any repossession of a tenant’s home is always an absolute last resort and would only happen after we have repeatedly attempted to resolve the issues and help them.

“We always try to support our tenants and assist them in any way that we can. We would always urge our tenants to discuss problems with us so that we can provide our support.

“Staff from Hyndburn Homes were at the scene and worked with the emergency services to ensure the safety of residents in the area.

“We have been made aware of gas cylinders at the rear of the property and we have been working with officers from the council to resolve this matter.

A spokesman for Lancashire Police said:

We were very concerned as there was a suggestion that there was petrol inside the property and we had also heard reports that he had a large number of gas canisters with him.

“We sent a negotiator in to reason with him but eventually, a decision was taken to enter the house and detain the man.

Source – Welfare News Service,  05 June 2014

http://welfarenewsservice.com/bedroom-tax-father-four-threatens-blow-home/

Parishioners begging vicars for food – Bishop of Durham

Church vicars are increasingly being asked for help by hungry parishioners, the Bishop of Durham has claimed.

The Right Reverend Paul Butler spoke out as ministers sought to brush off new figures revealing more than 900,000 people turned to foodbanks for emergency relief in the past 12 months – a near three-fold increase on the previous year.

Bishop Butler, a former social worker, said: “Clergy have told me of increased requests directly from parishioners struggling to make ends meet.”

And, having joined dozens of bishops and hundreds of faith leaders in signing an open letter demanding the Government take urgent action, he urged: “This is a reality and not a problem that will easily be solved – but solve it, we must.”

The Trussell Trust, which runs 400 foodbanks nationwide, reported a 463 per cent year-on-year rise in demand across the North-East.

Bishop Butler said that many families were facing the “terrible reality” of empty cupboards was deeply challenging and raised acute moral, social and political questions.

Speaking of a recent visit to a Hartlepool foodbank, he said the number of children in need was shocking.

One foodbank user from Brandon said she had asked for help having been forced to leave a stable life and move to care for her father and his partner.

“We have now been housed by Durham County Council, found help and guidance through places like foodbank. Without this help until benefits are resolved and wages for new jobs are paid, we would not be able to survive,” she added.

The faith leaders’ letter, published today, calls food poverty a “national crisis” and comes just two months after 27 bishops said Prime Minister David Cameron had a moral duty to act on the growing number going hungry.

 The Department for Works and Pensions has tried to dismiss the foodbank figures as unclear and misleading, but Maria Eagle, the shadow environment secretary, said they told the “shocking truth” of Britain’s cost-of-living crisis and said ministers needed to get a grip.

Source – Northern Echo  18 April 2014

David Cameron Think’s He’s The Messiah – Poor And Disabled Left Waiting For A Miracle

 The life of PM David Cameron has just become a little bizarre. During his Easter Reception at Downing St, he reportedly said he was simply continuing the work of Christ when he launched the “Big Society” initiative of volunteering and civic responsibility.

“Jesus invented the Big Society 2,000 years ago, I just want to see more of it and encourage as much of it as possible.” Cameron said, adding  that the Government should seek to improve the “spiritual and moral state” of the nation and be unashamedly “evangelical”.

If that wasn’t bizarre enough, he then went onto compare himself to a company that unblocks drains. Offering his services to help the Church keep up its commitments to Jesus’ Big Society concept, he said: “If there are things that are stopping you from doing more, think of me as a giant Dyno-Rod”.

So has the PM, as one voter tweeted, “…gone mad”? Or is this the end result of what the PM has called a “difficult week” and why he had to fly off to Lanzarote? Either way, his bizarre comments do not reflect Coalition policy, and here is why.

 Dyno-Rod proudly state on their website: “Our priority is to deliver the best service we can, working to the highest standards – we know it’s what our customers expect”.
Unfortunately for Cameron, his coalition government has delivered the worst. Brutal welfare reform and spending cuts has seen living standards fall and the cost of living to rise. His priority is the wealthy – shown by tax cuts and bonuses. In addition, with George Osborne promising a year of “hard truths” and further spending cuts, people can expect things to get even tougher.

However, no matter how tough things get, the people of Britain can be assured that their suffering is all part of the continuation of Christ’s work – well, that is if Cameron is to be believed.

His assertion that he is simply doing God’s work is a refreshing change from blaming Labour, but his policies are far removed from anything Jesus ever said or did.

For instance, his claim that Jesus invented the Big Society cannot be found in any version of the bible. So, it would appears that Cameron, who claims to have a ‘strong faith’, hasn’t been reading his bible, or as he? Indeed, if Christ had created the idea behind the ‘Big Society’, that idea would have been very different to Cameron’s vision.

If Cameron is the Messiah that would make his cabinet – by default – the Twelve Apostles; who, according to scripture, were all early followers chosen to become Christs closest disciples, advance his kingdom and carry the Gospel message to the world. It’s not difficult to see the similarity between that and Cameron’s Cabinet – earlier classmates chosen to become close allies and so on. Ironically, the chosen disciples were neither scholarly nor had any exceptional skill. Indeed none were religious. Compare that, for example to Osborne, Chancellor of the Exchequer, yet he only has a single degree in history.

That is where the similarities end. The bible has generosity and helping the poor as one of its major themes, stretching from the Old Testament to the New. Whilst Cameron has got the generosity part right with his tax cuts and bonuses for the rich, when it comes to helping the poor he has done nothing.

Cameron once said: “Let us look at the issue of dependency where we have trapped people in poverty through the extent of welfare that they have”.

Rather than helping, he has embarked on some of the biggest cuts to welfare support since the formation of the welfare state, which has led to a five-fold increase in poverty-stricken families turning to food banks.

Yet, Cameron is still insisting that he is helping. When the Archbishop of Westminster, the Most Rev Vincent Nichols, criticized the cuts to the welfare state which had left many facing destitution and hunger, Cameron responded by saying it’s “simply not true” and that welfare reform was part of his “moral mission” for the country. Moreover, in his response – written in The Daily Telegraph – he said:

“Our welfare reforms go beyond that alone: they are about giving new purpose, new opportunity, new hope – and yes, new responsibility to people who had previously been written off with no chance. Seeing these reforms through is at the heart of our long-term economic plan – and it is at the heart, too, of our social and moral mission in politics today”.

In my view, Cameron’s policies are immoral. His long-term economic plan has created unprecedented demands on food banks, has subjected people who are disabled to degrading assessments and has caused unnecessary hardship and homelessness.

Yet he continues, ignoring the fact that his reforms are not giving new purpose, new opportunity or new hope. His disciple, Ian Duncan Smith (AKA – Secretary of State for Work and Pensions) blindly follows. Writing in The Daily Telegraph, he rejected claims that welfare reform will condemn thousands to a “Dickensian” way of life. Adding:

“If you’d listened to the scaremongers, you’d be forgiven for thinking we were ripping up the welfare state and telling people to fend for themselves. In fact, what we are doing is returning the welfare state to what it was meant to be: a safety net, not a way of life”.

The poor, sick and disabled are left waiting for a miracle and used as scapegoats for our country’s economic ills, whilst David Cameron’s government continues to look after the interests of the greedy and most richest – the same people, who some may argue, caused the ‘economic crisis’ to begin with.

 By Jenny Howarth for the Welfare News Service (WNS).

Source – Welfare News Service  12 April 2014

http://welfarenewsservice.com/david-cameron-thinks-hes-the-messiah-poor-and-disabled-left-waiting-for-a-miracle/