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Public policy: the year in review

We take a look back at 2018 as we say thank you for all your support this year

2018 has certainly been an eventful year. 

Our country continues in a state of political uncertainty over the Brexit negotiations, and few people are confident about what the New Year will bring. Meanwhile, the Government has consulted on a range of proposals which could have a great impact on churches and on civil society.

Throughout this year the advocacy team of the Evangelical Alliance has been active in giving a voice to evangelical Christians in the corridors of power, continuing to show the UK what the church can do, as well as meeting challenges to evangelical freedoms that risk eroding the freedoms of all. In seeking to represent evangelicals, your voice has been vital to us as we’ve responded to consultations and met with government representatives. 

So to all of you who have contributed, in whatever way, in response to our campaigns: THANK YOU.

You responded to surveys on evangelical attitudes to Relationships and Sex Education, helping us to represent your concerns to the Department for Education. 

Others submitted accounts of what churches were doing to promote integration, which we passed on to the Government in our response to its Integrated Communities Strategy. 

Many of you will have responded to the APPG for Christians in Parliament in its inquiry on what it is like to be a Christian in the UK. The APPG will publish the findings of this key report next year. 

And others of you will have responded to consultations yourselves on particular issues, such as on the Government’s RSE proposals and to its consultation on gender identity. 

We know these responses are heard as the Government announced this year that it would not be pursuing its previous proposals to register and inspect out-of-school settings through OFSTED, in recognition of the 18,000 responses that its consultation received. You made this possible.

Or again, in response to concerns raised by Christian groups and others about gambling, the Government announced that it would be reducing the maximum stake on fixed-odds betting terminals to £2 – part of the important effort to reduce the damage of gambling addiction to individuals and communities. 

These actions show the great importance of responding to consultations and making our views heard. 

In Scotland, you have helped us respond to consultations on hate crime. 

In Wales we have continued to respresent evangelicals in the Welsh Assembly and welcomed a new member of our public policy team, Sam Pritchard. 

In Northern Ireland we have worked alongside Both Lives Matter to seek the welfare of mothers and children, and the Ashers ruling was a key win for protecting all citizens against compelled speech.

And others of you will have been involved with our Public Leadership initiative. Highlights this year have included speaking at three Spring Harvest conferences and holding a roundtable on Christian leadership in the arts. More than 60 public leaders in their 20s and 30s in Scotland, England and Northern Ireland took part in our Public Leader course. 

And perhaps most importantly of all, I know that many of you will have joined us in prayer, particularly for Christians overseas. Recently, along with members of our Religious Liberty Commission, we called for the release of Asia Bibi, who was recently acquitted of blasphemy in Pakistan. Earlier in the year, working with the One People Commission, we met with Foreign and Commonwealth Office minister Alistair Burt to discuss the concerns of West African Christians in the UK at the shocking resurgence of modern slavery in Libya. 

We must continue to pray and speak up for justice around the world.

Next year is likely to be just as busy. Besides the Brexit negotiations, there are already consultations open from the Commission for Countering Extremism on how extremism’ is perceived in the UK, and from the Department for Education a voluntary, yet potentially problematic code (rather than compulsory registration) for out-of-school settings, including Sunday schools. It also remains to be seen how the Government will respond to the various calls for evidence which it has conducted this year. 

So please do continue to partner with us as we seek to represent evangelical voices and respond yourself on issues of concern as you join with us in prayer.

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