UK Christians urged to vote in European Parliamentary elections
A multi-denominational group of Christians from Merseyside have issued a joint statement encouraging Christians to vote in the European Elections on May 22.
The elections will involve the selection of 73 British Members of the European Parliament, as well as many local councillors across several districts.
The statement has been signed by regional leaders of the Church of England, Methodist Church, the Baptist Union of Great Britain, Catholic Church, the United Reformed Church, and The Salvation Army.
They all shared their concern that low turnout will mean success for extremist parties such as the British National Party.
In the statement quoted in the Church Times, they wrote: "Some of our media are dismissive about what happens in Europe but it is important in a democratic state that we make the effort to vote.
"It is ironic to watch people in countries like Afghanistan voting in huge numbers when people here in the United Kingdom cannot be bothered to spare a small amount of time to go to the polling station."
Earlier this month, the Catholic Bishop of Portsmouth, the Right Reverend Philip Egan, said that Christians had a duty to be a part of the democratic process and vote: "We might yet be tempted for one reason or another to ignore these elections, or to yield to cynicism. Yet I ask you, please take part in these elections."
Bishop Egan also suggested that the traditional Christian policy concerns of abortion, euthanasia, and same-sex marriage remained important.
"We need to ascertain whether the views, values and policies a party promotes or an individual candidate espouses do not in any way impugn the transcendent dignity and value of human life from conception to natural death, or threaten to undermine the holy institution of matrimony and the well-being of family life," he said.
"Rather than falling back onto our customary party affiliations, finding out the views of our politicians on the human person should help us to weigh up whom to vote for."
Although lots of attention in the British press has focused on the anti-Europe UKIP party, the Anglican Suffragan Bishop in Europe, the Right Reverend David Hamid, said that British people living on the continent are very pro-European.
"I can say that most of the British people on the continent are very much aware that the whole EU project has a very Christian basis to it," he said.
"The EU was conceived by people who were motivated by important Christian principles of peace, reconciliation, and the common good."
British turnout in the last European Parliamentary election was 34.7 per cent. It has fluctuated significantly, but it has remained consistently low, with the lowest being 24 per cent in 1999 and the highest at only 38.52 per cent in 2009.