Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Party Manifestos - Not Doing God Either. Which is OK.

Here's what a search for 'faith', 'God', 'church', 'religion' and related terms gets you from this weeks 3 main manifestos:

Liberal Democrats (p36)
"We will.....Allow parents to continue to choose faith-based schools within the
state-funded sector and allow the establishment of new faith schools. We will ensure that all faith schools develop an inclusive admissions policy and end unfair discrimination on grounds of faith when recruiting staff, except for those principally responsible for optional religious instruction."

Labour (section 7 p6)
Faith is enormously important to millions of people in Britain, shaping their values and the way they live. We respect the importance of belief and welcome the contribution that people of faith make to our communities and society more widely. We will actively combat extremist groups who promote fear, hatred and violence on the basis of faith or race.


for comparison:

one passing mention of faith schools, and "oppose disestablishment of the Church of England"

"UKIP believes in civic nationalism, which is open and inclusive to anyone who wishes to identify with Britain, regardless of ethnic or religious background. We reject the "blood and soil" ethnic nationalism of extremist parties. UKIP opposes multiculturalism and political correctness, and promotes uniculturalism - aiming to create a single British culture embracing all races and religions" (p13)

"Religious school materials must not teach hatred of the western world and must be congruent with British values. Sharia courts must not override UK law" (p14)

Green Party: manifesto due out tomorrow.

1. On one level, it's good to see that none of the main parties is blowing the religious dog whistle very loudly. This also makes it a bit more difficult for anyone trying to argue that it's a Christian duty to vote for one party or another, though some are having a valiant try.

2. The lack of a simplistic 'x party at prayer' makes for some serious debates about the relative priority of other issues which should exercise Christians - international aid; military and weapons policy; support for families and communities; wise and ethical finance; just taxation; promotion of a culture of love, justice and forgiveness rather than lust, greed and scapegoating; and so on. None of the traditional trump cards are available - for example no party has a stated policy on reducing the abortion limit, which has often been the Ace of Spades for Catholic leaders. The Conservatives are the only party overtly supporting marriage, but beyond the tax allowance there's not much: there's a minor commitment to relationship support in their manifesto, but no money or quantities specified.

3. Which all makes a hung parliament a more tempting result. If you only agree with some policies from each party, it's the only chance you have of getting all the policies you agree with put into action. Or none of them....!

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