20 April 2014
Referendum debate needs refocusing, say evangelical churches
A ruthless commitment to the eradication of poverty, restoration of the dignity of those who rely on the welfare state and tax incentives to encourage the rich to invest in projects that would tackle Scotland's most pressing social needs are among issues that evangelical Christians want both sides of the referendum debate to consider.
These are among 38 recommendations contained in a 'manifesto for the future' released today by the Evangelical Alliance. The manifesto entitled, What Kind of Nation?, covers the four pillars of Scottish society – the economy, the family, civil society and the environment.
The Alliance, which represents more than 750 organisations and two million evangelical Christians in 3,500 churches across 79 denominations in Scotland and the UK, also wants both sides to stop playing politics with people's lives and allow the views of ordinary people to be heard.
Fred Drummond, national director of Evangelical Alliance Scotland, said the debate has been too narrowly focused on issues of EU membership, the pound and pensions. He said: "We also need to discuss what kind of future we want for our children and grandchildren.
"These economic issues are important but they are not the whole story; there are many other important matters, such as poverty, on which people are hurting which need to be addressed. We need to have a ruthless commitment to eradicating poverty in all its forms. It cannot be right that the poorest 20 per cent of the population contribute a larger percentage of their wealth in tax than those in the top 20 per cent. It cannot be right that those in work find themselves having to rely on state hand-outs and parcels from foodbanks," said Drummond.
The national director says he is also concerned that after 60 years of the welfare state, where a person is born affects educational achievements, health and life expectancy as much as ever.
"As Christians we believe such inequality to be an affront to God and a blatant attack on our humanity as individuals made equally in the image of God."
The Alliance has launched its manifesto, What Kind of Nation? – Manifesto for a Future Scotland to help guide Christians when they engage with politicians at an upcoming series of hustings being organised by the Alliance in June. The manifesto is being highlighted at an event at the Members Restaurant in the Scottish Parliament on 23 April at 6pm. Keynote speaker is Roseanna Cunningham, Scottish government minister for community safety and legal affairs and panellists are: John Sturrock QC, chief executive, Core Solutions; Iain Gordon, chief executive, Bethany Christian Trust; and Ruth Walker, a former director of Scottish Enterprise.
Dave Landrum, director of advocacy at the Evangelical Alliance, said: "The Church is uniquely placed to provide a context for politicians to engage with the public. Across Scotland we have churches at the heart of almost all communities and together they provide community services such as foodbanks in a way that is unparalleled in modern Scotland. From our day in, day out experience in Scottish communities we have something to say in this referendum debate about the sort of society we want to live in and it is time ordinary Scots were involved in this wider debate."
Notes to Editors
- The manifesto entitled What Kind of Nation? – Manifesto for a Future Scotland will be highlighted at an event on 23 April 6pm at the Scottish Parliament, Members Restaurant. Keynote speaker is Roseanna Cunningham, Scottish government minister for community safety and legal affairs
- The Alliance will be hosting a series of hustings in June bringing together politicians and members of the public. These will be held in Scotland's seven cities and will be attended by some of Scotland's most high-profile politicians. Further details will be released in due course.
The Evangelical Alliance
We are the largest and oldest body representing the UK’s two million evangelical Christians. For more than 165 years, we have been bringing Christians together and helping them listen to, and be heard by, the government, media and society. We’re here to connect people for a shared mission, whether it’s celebrating the Bible, making a difference in our communities or lobbying the government for a better society. From Skye to Southampton, from Coleraine to Cardiff, we work across 79 denominations, 3,500 churches, 750 organisations and thousands of individual members. And we're not just uniting Christians within the UK – we are a founding member of the World Evangelical Alliance, a global network of more than 600 million evangelical Christians. For more information, go to www.eauk.org