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24 March 2011

Churches Vote launched in Scotland

A broad coalition of organisations and denominations have come together to develop an online website to help and equip Christians for the Scottish Parliament Election on 5 May. Churches Vote is an initiative developed by CARE, the Catholic Parliamentary Office, Christians Count and the Scottish Churches Parliamentary Office alongside the Evangelical Alliance. This landmark initiative is one of the first to be supported by nearly every denomination across Scotland and demonstrates a new desire among Christian leaders and organisations to work together for God's Kingdom. 

The main aim of the initiative is to encourage even greater involvement by Scottish Christians in social action and public affairs and demonstrate to politicians that the Church is actively and positively engaged with public life in Scotland. It is hoped that Christians from all backgrounds and denominations will use this resource to be more informed and better equipped to vote on 5 May. 

The website provides information on practical aspects of the election, guides to political party policy on topical issues and an interactive map to help people find out if a hustings (all-party meeting for candidates) is taking place in their area. Hustings provide all-party opportunities for authentic political debate on neutral territory. The majority of hustings are organised by churches and represent a great example of the Church engaging with its community and building relationships with their future elected representatives. 

Significantly, the website also includes video clips of all of the main party leaders answering key questions that relate to the churches engagement with politics and wider society. Each of the five party leaders were filmed by the Churches Vote team responding to questions such as: what is the role of the Church in modern Scotland and what are the biggest challenges facing Scotland today?

The website was officially launched on 22 March in Edinburgh alongside a joint statement which was signed by the leaders of each supporting denomination including the Roman Catholic Church, the Church of Scotland, the Scottish Episcopal Church, the Salvation Army and many others. The statement calls on Christians to respond to the needs of their community and use their vote as an opportunity to serve and express the needs of others. In the statement they said: "An awareness of human failings should not tempt us to abandon the political system. Dissatisfaction with politics should prompt Christians to be more involved in shaping political life so that it better serves the whole of society."