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One People Commission public policy update

A round up of the work of the Evangelical Alliance advocacy team

The advocacy work at the Evangelical Alliance is about voice. 

In our public policy work it’s about representing the voice of evangelicals to parliament, to government and to the media. 

In our public leadership work it’s about enhancing the voice of evangelicals to lead in our society – wherever God may be calling them. 

We also provide a range of resources to equip the church in the UK.

Our public policy work operates across the nations in the UK, and at this time we are particularly focussed upon key issues which affect Christian freedoms and identity:

  • Freedoms to proclaim the gospel
  • Freedoms to live the gospel – both in public and in private
  • Freedoms to transmit the message and values of the gospel to the next generation

Many of the secularist challenges to freedom of religion and freedom of speech are coming in the forms of hate speech’, hate crime’ and expansive notions of harm’. These are now influencing policy positions on things like safeguarding in which some groups are promoting the idea of spiritual abuse’ as a legal category, which would have profound implications for prayer ministry, preaching and pastoral work. 

Please read the report we produced on spiritual abuse.

Related to this new focus on harm’ the government has committed itself to outlawing the practice of so called conversion therapy’. However, because it has not been defined, secularists and LGBT campaigners are pressing for restrictions on practices (prayer) and the expression of views (preaching and teaching) which might suggest that LGBT lifestyles are problematic/​sinful.

Similarly, a few weeks ago the National Secular Society produced a report calling for the advancement of religion” to be removed as a charitable purpose on the grounds that promoting religion is not inherently a public benefit and can sometimes even cause harm to society.” 

Given the potentially huge consequences of these moves for the gospel and church life in the UK, we are lobbying for doctrinal freedoms and calling for responsible pastoral practice in the use of these freedoms. We are presently assisting a parliamentary report with MPs and Peers about what it’s like to be a Christian in the UK today which will be published soon.

PLEASE PRAY: that the report would have a powerful impact in parliament and government, that it would clearly show how Christians are being marginalised in UK society.

Some of the key policy issues that the advocacy team are presently dealing with are: 

  • The reprisal of out-of-school Settings regulation in a new form – with potential state registration of religious attendance, and state regulation of religious youth work and sermons. We are pressing the Education Secretary for clarification on three key questions. 
    • What is a setting’?
    • What are normal school hours’? 
    • Who is a proprietor’ of a setting?

PLEASE PRAY for: For the government to provide clarity so that fundamental human rights and civil liberties are protected.

  • The government’s Integrated Communities Strategy is intended to foster social cohesion but we are concerned that is being used to equate British values’ with secular values. 

PLEASE PRAY: for the Evangelical Alliance to speak wisely into the British values’ debate, ensuring that secular agendas are exposed and that Judeo-Christian values are recognised. 

Transgenderism – we are seeking to ensure that any new laws in this area secure viewpoint diversity andfree speech, and grant appropriate exemptions to preserve institutional religious liberty. 

PLEASE PRAY: that our Transformed resource would help equip the church on this issue.

The key education policy challenges we are engaged with are:

Relationships and Sex Education – all schools in England (from 2020) will be required to teach new mandatory content on relationships (primary) and relationships and sex (secondary) with no unqualified opt-out for parents. The guidance recommends (among others) Stonewall’s LGBT curriculum for this. 

The new OFSTED inspection framework places strong emphasis on schools preparing pupils for life in modern Britain” with modern” seemingly meaning secular”.

We are developing a new resource to support parents to answer the presenting sexuality/​identity questions faced by their children in schools and education. This is a vitally important resource at this time.

PLEASE PRAY: for our lobbying in education – for the freedoms for teachers, schools and parents – especially for parental rights to be protected against state attempts to indoctrinate children into secular perspectives on sexual ethics. Pray also for the resource we are developing – that it would meet the needs of Christian parents, children and teachers. 

Through our Both Lives Matter campaign, our Northern Ireland team has challenged recent moves to try and introduce abortion to Northern Ireland.

PLEASE PRAY: for wisdom and courage for the all those opposing abortion in Northern Ireland. Pray especially for the Evangelical Alliance’s Dawn McAvoy who has become a key public voice on this issue. 

PUBLIC LEADERSHIP

  • SENT is a brand new course to help churches equip public leaders in their congregations to be transformational in their workplace and local community. Order a pack today and invite leaders in your church involved in education, health, politics, business, the arts and media or any other area of public life to join a group.
  • Public Leader training courses are now running in Scotland, England and Northern Ireland. These 9-month courses (with four teaching weekends and discovery events in between) seek to equip emerging leaders who are passionate about bringing Christian leadership to all areas of life across the UK. The present course in England has a strong ethnic diversity proportion (over half attending).

PLEASE PRAY: that the SENT course will inspire and equip a new generation of Christian leaders to be salt and light in public life. Pray also for the training courses – that they would develop leaders with wisdom and courage to be people of influence in UK society. 

RESOURCES

  • In response to issue raised through the OPC, we recently produced the Firm Foundations building resource to help churches to navigate the challenges and opportunities of properties.

PLEASE PRAY: that the church will make use of these key resources so that the gospel may be more freely and confidently proclaimed.

The advocacy team at the Evangelical Alliance exists to serve the church to have a voice. To hear more about this work you can invite us to come and speak to your leaders and churches.

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