As a staunch non-conformist, I find myself in the interesting place of recommending contributions from the Archbishops of Canterbury and York for the second month in a row! Yet good words they are, and as I often hear people lamenting the absence of input from senior Church leaders on political issues (rarely a fair assertion) I feel it is right to draw our attention to their wisdom. In this case, they have written a very thoughtful letter on how Christians might respond to the snap election on 8 June. It’s too long to include in its entirety so below are a few choice paragraphs that I hope will encourage us to look at the election through the lens of our shared beliefs and virtues. For those interested in reading the full article it can be found at: https://www.churchofengland.org/media/3977056/electionletter_text.pdf
In the midst of a frantic and sometimes fraught election campaign, our first obligation as Christians is to pray for those standing for office, and to continue to pray for those who are elected. We recognise the enormous responsibilities and the vast complexity of the issues that our political leaders face. We are constantly reminded of the personal costs and burdens carried by those in political life and by their families.
Our second obligation as Christians at these times is to set aside apathy and cynicism and to participate, and encourage others to do the same. At a practical level that could mean putting on a hustings event for candidates, volunteering for a candidate, or simply making sure to vote on Thursday 8 June. The Christian virtues of love, trust and hope should guide and judge our actions, as well as the actions and policies of all those who are seeking election to the House of Commons and to lead our country.
Religious belief is the well-spring for the virtues and practices that make for good individuals, strong relationships and flourishing communities. In Britain, these embedded virtues are not unique to Christians, but they have their roots in the Christian history of our four nations. If treated as partners in the project of serving the country, the churches – and other faiths – have much to contribute to a deep understanding and outworking of the common good.
These deep virtues and practices – love, trust and hope, cohesion, courage and stability - are not the preserve of any one political party or worldview, but go to the heart of who we are as a country in all of its diversity. An election campaign, a Parliament and a Government that hold to these virtues give us a firm foundation on which to live well together, for the common good.
We keep in our prayers all those who are standing in this election and are deeply grateful for their commitment to public service. All of us as Christians, in holding fast to the vision of abundant life, should be open to the call to renounce cynicism, to engage prayerfully with the candidates and issues in this election and by doing so to participate together fully in the life of our communities.
In the Name of our Risen Lord,
+Justin Cantuar: +Sentamu Eboracencis
I wholeheartedly echo their words: that we pray for those standing in this election, that we resist the pull of cynicism and apathy, and that we hold fast to a vision of abundant life for all.