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Bring a concern for truth, your neighbour and the environment

by Michael Ford last modified 20 Nov, 2019 04:23 PM

Bishop Nicholas has spoken of the need for Christians to bring to their communities a concern for truth, for our neighbour and for the environment as they engage in the General Election debate.

Bring a concern for truth, your neighbour and the environment

Original photo by Richard Hancock

Speaking at our Diocesan Synod in his Presidential Address Bishop Nicholas said:

"The General Election will be the third in 4.5 years in addition to the Referendum. Brexit is a strain and whatever happens in the election it is not going away. You don’t need me to rehearse my political views, though like you I have them.

"I want to say something about what Christians bring to the debate and what we can try to do in our local communities. In such a fractious time the churches can seek to act justly, love mercy and walk humbly with God. It is an old treasure. We have a concern for truth, for our neighbour and for generous hospitality as churches make community in every place.

"I want to thank those who have represented constituencies in this diocese, particularly those who have stood down: Sir Oliver Letwin in West Dorset and Claire Perry in Devizes, and for us to pray for all who are standing for election.

"I want us to be surprised and challenging at the way those who would govern us casually make promises and break promises. It is not acceptable.

"We now live in a world of fake news and alternative facts with the echo chambers of social media feeding and reinforcing our views. There is proper concern about the way those outside this democracy influence us through social media and indeed through the Press which is mostly owned by people with money and strong views who do not all live here in the UK. I am heartened by the ways in which there is so much ‘Fact Checking’ of what is said. In a world in which it is difficult to be sure what is true, we Christians commit to being about the truth and accountable to it. Elections are about holding our politicians, ourselves and one another to account. Use the hustings that are being organised by churches in most constituencies to pursue the truth.

"A part of this Synod is given to the environment. With bush fires in Australia as there were in Siberia in the summer and floods in Yorkshire and Venice we will be asked to recognise there is a climate emergency. Many Councils, including Wiltshire, have recognised that there is a climate emergency as has Parliament. So ask the candidates what they think and how we can act in response to the climate emergency. What policies will support the rapid transition to a net zero carbon neutral economy?

"And given the strains of the economy and the willingness to invest in our common life, ask about their commitment to maintain the commitment to 0.7% of GDP on overseas aid.

"It is ‘love thy neighbour’ and it is enlightened self-interest.

"In environmental matters, a varied ecology is needed to support and sustain life. It is an illusion to think that if only everyone thought the same as me or you the world would be a better place. It would lack energy and creativity. Diversity is a gift from God. We need each other to be ourselves and we need to recognise that on earth we live in this one house, in which we need to have a care for the ecology, economy and ecumenism of our common home.

"We Christians ought to be good at this. Our Archbishop has made good disagreement an aim for a Church that sometimes struggles with difference but which in fact has almost 2,000 years of experience."

You can read the whole of Bishop Nicholas' presidential address here.

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