An ambitious new initiative to harness the dormant political power within Britain’s Black Christian community before the next general election has been launched.
Leaders of some of the largest Black church denominations are collaborating to mobilise their congregations to engage in the political process, by producing a Black church political manifesto within six months, and increasing the numbers of church voters.
Christians and the wider community will also be urged to stand against injustice, as well as to join political parties and become local councillors, MPs, JPs, school governors and chaplains.
The initiative is the brainchild of Bishop Dr Joe Aldred, of the National Church Leaders’ Forum’s (NCLF) steering group. He told Keep The Faith that the move was borne out of a sense that, traditionally, the Black church has not punched its weight politically over the past 10 years.
He said: “That has never gone away. Part of the problem is the fragmentation of these churches. There isn’t a single Black church in Britain but a multiplicity of churches, and therefore our corporate voice has become weaker because we’ve never found a vehicle through which to channel that voice.”
Dr Aldred, who is also secretary of Churches Together in England’s Minority Ethnic Christian Affairs (MECA), added: “The core of the problem is this apathy towards politics in the Black church, which is historic and rooted in colonial malevolence which, through Black people engaging with colonial powers from slavery onwards, has used Christianity as a means of quietening the political aspirations of Black people. So we are very good at praying, but we are not very good at rising up and taking action, because we feel God will sort it out.”
Churches represented at the London meeting of MECA included the Church of God of Prophecy, ; New Testament Church of God, ; Redeemed Christian Church of God, , and Seventh Day Adventist, along with the Black sections of the historic churches. Dr Robert Beckford, who will work out the manifesto through a consultation and a series of conferences, spoke on the theological context for church political mobilisation. Operation Black Vote will help with voter registration.
Shirin Aguiar – Holloway