One key development in the 2015 elections was the political coming of age of Britain’s Black Christian community. Leaders of the UK’s two biggest political parties included visits to Black churches during their respective campaigns.
David Cameron received rapturous applause from 45,000 people when he spoke about aspiration, community service and religious freedom at the Festival of Life (FoL) – Britain’s largest regular Christian event, organised by the Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG).
Labour Party leader Ed Miliband, a self-confessed atheist, took his campaign to Praise House, a growing church led by Pastor Damian Luke, situated in Croydon. Miliband addressed the congregation and also answered questions from the floor.
One reason why politicians included visits to the ‘Black Church’ during this year’s election is because it was a closely fought one, and every vote mattered. In some places, the Black vote decided who won the seat. Furthermore, the Church, via the National Church Leaders Forum (NCLF), entered the political fray by publishing the first ever Black Church Manifesto, which set out how it would like the new government to address issues of concern to Black communities.
Dr David Muir, who co-authored the Manifesto alongside Rev Ade Amooba, told Keep The Faith he was pleased politicians took note of the BME churches during the 2015 election campaigns. He would like to see the new government develop an ongoing relationship with BME churches. He shared, “We had political representation at the launch of the Manifesto. One thing we are clear about in the Manifesto is that we do want to work with whatever government is in power.”
One of the first issues they would want the government to deal with is the disproportionate amount of BME men in the prison system.