Voice in public life

Everyone has a worldview shaped by beliefs, attitudes and experiences. Christians in the UK have a worldview that is shaped by the love of God, and authority of the Bible. As followers of Jesus, everything we do should reflect that life altering reality. We should care about God’s creation not only with an eternal perspective, but in its restoration and flourishing now.

In modern society we hear many different voices and views, some of which stand at odds with our biblical perspective. There are approximately 2 million evangelical Christians in the UK, and as a significant group we should understand that our voices matter in how our nation is governed. We can all be positive active citizens in conversations about issues that matter to us.

First, here’s an important qualification. Politics is not the only place where your voice can be heard: it’s just one of the more tangible ways to seek change. We can share our views publicly and try to influence the culture we inhabit through conversations with our peers, social media and other platforms we may have, but if we are not using the channels available to us to put those views into action, then there isn’t much point.

Politics is an incredibly visible and influential way of bringing about change. However, a credible political voice can only come from someone who is active in other areas. Often the nation has felt let down by politicians who say one thing, but their actions are found to be entirely contrary. As we share life with those around us we want to live in a way that reflects what we stand for politically. Jesus always authenticated his words with action, and as people who want others to see He is trustworthy, we should seek to live with the same integrity.

As good citizens we are to seek the peace and prosperity of our city (Jeremiah 29:7). How can we as Christians make our voice heard in politics? Here are two questions you can ask and three things you can do.

Who represents you?

The first step towards getting your voice heard is finding out who your representatives are. Very little is decided by referendum: in most cases we elect such representatives to make decisions on our behalf. These include your local member of parliament, local councillors, and sometimes others too: local mayors, members of devolved assemblies, and police and crime commissioners (PCCs).

So first find out who these people are — and commit to praying for them regularly (1 Timothy 2:1 – 2). Which party do they represent, if any? Do they have a particular role within that party, speaking out on certain topics? Does their website or social media presence reveal any issues particularly close to their heart? Can you or your church cooperate with them on anything?

Find your local representatives here: https://​www​.they​work​fory​ou​.com/

What are politicians talking about?

Your local MP may not be the only one raising issues you may care about. Again, They Work for You has a search tool, which allows you to find out where key words have been used in debates and questions to the Government. This is a good first step to finding the arguments that have been made around a particular issue in parliament. You can also set up email alerts on this site, to let you know when these key words are used.

Writing to your MP:

Many political campaigns use postcards and standard letters, or online petitions, to help generate a lot of support for their cause. While such campaigns can be effective, and the sheer weight of numbers can cause an MP to think again about an issue, usually a carefully written individual letter will be better received. Here are some tips for writing to your MP:

  • Find out about the issue. In particular, look up anything your MP might have said in parliament or in the media.
  • Be brief and clear. It’s better to make one point well than many points badly.
  • Use personal examples. MPs get statistics and general points from lots of different sources, but specific case studies of how a policy is working (or not working) are rarer and more valuable.
  • Keep in touch. If they act on your behalf, say thank you. And keep track of the issue as it develops in the future.

Head over to our Connect resource for more information and guidance on how to begin writing to, and forming a relationship with, your local representative.

Respond to consultations

Your MP isn’t the only way you can make your views heard to government. Periodically, when the Government is planning a new policy or law, the relevant department might run a consultation, or call for views.

Parliamentary committees also run consultations and seek views from people and organisations. These committees are made up of MPs or peers (members of the House of Lords) and they hold the Government to account by asking questions and writing reports on key issues. You can keep track of these inquiries via: https://​www​.par​lia​ment​.uk/​b​u​s​i​ness/

The Evangelical Alliance’s advocacy team regularly submits consultation responses on behalf of UK evangelicals, particularly on issues which impact Christians. Why not become a member of the Evangelical Alliance and add your voice to thousands of others when we represent you and other evangelicals to parliament and the media? Join us here.

All five of the points made on writing to your MP also applies to consultations. But here are three additional tips:

  • Answer the questions. Consultations normally ask some specific questions about an issue. Make sure your answer is clearly relevant to the question being asked — this means it has a greater chance of being read.
  • Write when you have something to say. While you should answer the questions where you know something relevant about them, don’t feel under pressure to answer every question that is being asked — it’s not an exam! Don’t answer for the sake of answering; answer because you have an answer to give that will be valuable.
  • Follow the guidance. Most consultations will give some instructions on word limit, formatting and deadline for submitting a response. Again, following these instructions makes it more likely that your response will get read.

At the bottom of this page is past consultations the Evangelical Alliance has responded to. Find out what consultations we’re currently responding to, and how you can lend your own voice by responding to the consultations personally by visiting our Government Consultations page.

Vote

Contacting your MP and knowing about debates are not substitutes for the foundational act of making your voice heard: voting. Make sure you are registered to vote (https://​www​.gov​.uk/​r​e​g​i​s​t​e​r​— t​o​-vote) and take the opportunity any time you can — in local as well as national elections.