Black churches unite to produce political manifesto

With the 2015 elections becoming the major concern of the UK’s politicians, leaders of Britain’s Black churches have united together to garner the attention of political parties, by producing their first ever political manifesto.

Entitled ‘Black Church Political Mobilisation: A Manifesto for Action’, this historic document contains calls for Britain’s African and African-Caribbean Christian community to become more politically astute, and to mobilise itself to deal with some of the pressing issues facing the Black community as a whole. It is also a call for society to see the Black Church as a viable, pro-active political force.

In the Manifesto foreword, jointly written by Pastor Matthew Ashimolowo, Bishop Eric Brown, Pastor Agu Irukwu and Reverend Nezlin Sterling, the ministers state: “By encouraging our churches to actively engage in the socio-cultural, political and economic institutions locally and nationally, we hope to strengthen communities, promote active citizenship and the common good.”

Issues covered in the Manifesto include: Policing and Criminal Justice; Prisons; Mental Health; Church and Community; Voting and Political Mobilisation; Family and Marriage; Youth and Education, and International Development, and outlines how the Church proposes to work alongside the government, policy makers and local councils in combatting the areas that arise in each sector.

Some of the solutions outlined in the 42-page document include:

  • Calling on the government to work with Black Majority Churches (BMCs) to discuss the disproportionate numbers of Black people in the prison system, and to work to reduce it
  • A call for greater ‘faith literacy’ amongst policy makers, so that they understand why churches do what they do, and believe what they do
  • An admonition for church leaders to play a greater role in encouraging Christians and the Black community in general to play a more active role in politics, and to encourage every eligible Black person to vote
  • Encouraging churches to give single mothers greater support, by providing child day care for working mothers, and counselling for parents struggling to raise their children alone

‘Black Church Political Mobilisation: A Manifesto for Action’ will be officially launched in the autumn. Bishop Joe Aldred, who is part of the steering committee for the National Church Leaders Forum (NCLF) which helped produce the document, and head of Pentecostal and Multicultural Relations at Churches Together in England, told Keep The Faith: “We have consulted widely in developing (the manifesto), but are aware it can be improved. Going forward, we’d like the political ideas in the Manifesto to be embraced across our churches, so that the Black Church becomes, and is seen as, a political force for good.”

He added: “We hope the political parties will realise that the Black Christian vote has a price on it, and is not pledged to any particular politician or party, but to those who observe keenly what is important to us; can satisfy us that they understand us and our issues, and are able to produce policies consistent with our values, hopes and aspirations.”

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