Churches host hustings in run-up to the big vote
Churches in hundreds of constituencies across the UK are holding election events ahead of the vote on 7 May ...
Churches in hundreds of constituencies across the UK are holding election events ahead of the vote on 7 May.
Churches provide a vital democratic service to communities by putting on hustings where candidates are quizzed before votes are cast.
The Evangelical Alliance is working with churches across the UK to put on hustings to inform voters and to scrutinise candidates over the next three weeks.
In East Belfast the Evangelical Alliance’s Northern Ireland director, Peter Lynas, chaired an event on 13 April in a hotly contested seat where the DUP’s Gavin Robinson is threatening to unseat the Alliance party’s Naomi Long.
Following the event Lynas commented: "A couple of hundred people gathered from across the community to hear the main candidates debate key local and national issues. We had lively exchanges between the candidates and great questions from the floor about early years’ funding, the environment, faith in politics and welfare reform." More about Northern Ireland events HERE.
In Scotland churches working with the Evangelical Alliance will host debates across the country including in Inverness, Nairn, Badenoch and Strathspey where chief secretary to the Treasury and Liberal Democrat economics spokesperson, Danny Alexander, is under serious threat. Jim Murphy, Scottish Labour leader, will also be taking part in a church hustings in the East Renfrewshire seat he is contesting.
Cardiff plays host to eight hustings across four constituencies during this election campaign, beginning with Cardiff North on 10 April and ending with Cardiff South and Penarth on 26 April. The vote in Cardiff Central as well as Cardiff North is predicted to be close so voters are relishing the opportunity to find out more about what their candidates stand for and their parties plan to do. Overall in Wales churches have organised hustings in half of the constituencies.
Amelia Abplanalp, policy officer at the Evangelical Alliance, said: “Churches are giving their congregation and the wider community a chance to grill their candidates before they vote. This helps voters find out about what the parties and their candidates are saying and make an informed choice before showing up at the ballot box.”
The Evangelical Alliance’s Faith in politics? report showed that 94 per cent of evangelical Christians are likely to vote in the upcoming election. It also showed that the issues most likely to affect their vote include protecting religious liberty, helping the poorest and combatting human trafficking.
Evangelical Alliance member organisation CARE has compiled a list of hundreds of church-based hustings across the UK. In 2010 it found that nearly 300 took place ahead of polling day.
threads, the Evangelical Alliance’s online community for millennial Christians, is collaborating with Tearfund’s Rhythms project to put on a hustings in central London for young voters. At the 2010 election only 44 per cent of voters aged 18-24 showed up, whereas over three quarters of those over 65 did.
Chine Mbubaegbu, director of communications for the Evangelical Alliance, said: “We want young voters to take responsibility and find out what the parties are saying, but most of all we want young adults to vote – if we don’t vote we simply amplify the voices of those who do.”