Nazir-Ali encourages Christians to get involved in elections

The former Bishop of Rochester, Bishop Michael Nazir-Ali is to host a series of General Election Hustings across England to help local Christians question candidates for Westminster seats.

The bishop, who has been outspoken about what he describes as the “marginalisation of Christianity in the public place” over many years, has accepted an invitation by the ‘Christians and Candidates 2010’ initiative to figure-head a series of hustings in local constituencies.

Bishop Nazir-ali will act as chairman of debates at which candidates can make their views known to local Christians, and local Christians can put forward issues of concern to their prospective MP.

He has launched a video on YouTube to explain why all Christians in the UK should take an active interest in the General Election, which must take place by June 3.

The evening events, being planned with co-operation of the main political parties will be held in partnership with local church leaders and will run from 17 to 30 April, although dates and venues may vary according to when the Prime Minister announces the long-expected date.

It is hoped that these meetings will act as a catalyst, encouraging local churches nationwide to provide similar forums for meaningful interactions between Christians and parliamentary candidates.

Bishop Nazir-Ali said: “Christians are called to pray for those who ‘rule’ over them. However, at the same time, there are also specific issues of real concern to believers."

He pointed to the concern being felt especially by "deeply committed, publicly-minded and spirited Christians" who have found their Christian faith coming increasingly under pressure at work.

"Some are being banned from wearing even the cross, others from praying for people at a very real time of need, and others, by virtue of their Christian views and convictions about marriage, are being prevented from serving on adoption panels or from being civil registrars if they do not sign up to the latest equality legislation," he said.

"Christians are being marginalised in the market place commercially and from serving in public office.

“These events will give Christians an opportunity to make their voice known.”

The Christians and Candidates 2010 initiative is being supported by Christian Concern For Our Nation. CCFON Director Andrea Minichiello Williams, said the hustings events would show politicians just how strongly Christians felt about these issues.

“All political parties are coming out with policies in an attempt to win votes. Christians are not interested in easy-fix, voter-friendly solutions to simply get any elector to tick the right box," she said.

"They are interested in supporting a Government which will work for the good of all, bring in laws which are based on just and right Judeo-Christian principles, and want to be treated with the same respect as other groupings in society.