Church Must Have 'Central Role' In PM's 'Shared Society', Says EA

The Church must play a "central role" in creating Theresa May's "shared society", the Evangelical Alliance has said. 

The Prime Minister gave a speech on Monday laying out her vision to tackle injustice and create opportunity for everyone. Speaking at The Charity Commission's annual lecture in London, May gave her most significant policy announcement in months, vowing to improve mental health care.

Prime Minister Theresa May gave her speech at The Charity Commission's annual lecture in London.Reuters

The approach was part of her vision for a "shared society", she said.

"The central tenet of my belief - the thing that shapes my approach - is that there is more to life than individualism and self-interest," she said.

"This means a government rooted not in the laissez-faire liberalism that leaves people to get by on their own, but rather in a new philosophy that means government stepping up.

"Not just in the traditional way of providing a welfare state to support the most vulnerable, as vital as that will always be. But actually in going further to help those who have been ignored by government for too long because they don't fall into the income bracket that makes them qualify for welfare support."

The Evangelical Alliance welcomed the speech and said the Church must be released to help achieve her ambitions. 

"The vibrant and diverse evangelical constituency is serving and leading in communities long blighted by the 'burning injustices' that Mrs May refers to," the statement on Monday read. "But we don't just want to pick up the pieces from failed political experiments.

"We want to play a central role in providing the solutions."

Danny Webster, spokesman for the EA, warned churches must not be forced to sign up to values that go against their beliefs in order to work with authorities.

The Church must be "freed to play its part in achieving the shared society envisaged by the prime minister", the EA's statement insisted, calling for more recognition of the role of faith groups. 

Webster told Christian Today: "A shared society has to be a plural society which respects and supports different belief systems rather than trying to enforce an artificial agreement which undermines the beliefs that prompt so much of Christian social engagement."

The EA also criticised David Cameron's 'Big Society' notion for playing "second fiddle to the social and economic agendas of liberalism". 

It called for a focus on relationships and said "the Church has a key role to play in fostering and supporting those relationships".

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