The Rt Rev Dr David Thomson has today welcomed a call by the Bishops of the Church of England to encourage Christians to put aside self-interest and vote for the good of all during the General Election.
In a pastoral letter from the House of Bishops to the people and parishes of the Church of England, the Bishops urge Christians to consider the question how can we “build the kind of society which many people say they want.” “The privileges of living in a democracy mean that we should use our votes thoughtfully, prayerfully and with the good of others in mind, not just our own interests.”
The Rt Rev Dr David Thomson, Acting Bishop of the Diocese of St Edmundsbury and Ipswich, said, “It is important that our own interests do not drive every decision we take when we go to vote. As Christians we believe helping others is vital too and in Suffolk Christians of all denominations work hand in hand with our partners, to deliver change for those less fortunate.
“The Ipswich Winter Night Shelter churches open doors to the homeless people of the town for the 15 coldest weeks of winter. The Shelter works alongside The Ipswich Locality Homelessness Partnership to encourage homeless people to receive help and advice to restore their lives, find long-term accommodation, regain self-esteem and dignity and return to society as an equal.
“Last year the East Suffolk Foodbank, led by local churches under the umbrella Christians Together, launched a home delivery service in the area so that people in hardship can access emergency food parcels without facing a costly journey to the charity’s drop-in sessions in Lowestoft, Beccles or Halesworth.
“Elsewhere in the county Christians help with countless other invaluable community projects and it is vitally important that when we vote in May, we think of others needs too, the poor, the less fortunate, and how the parties will support others needs as well as our own during the next parliament.”
In the pastoral letter the bishops also argue Britain is in need of a stronger politics of community to boost solidarity between people and reverse a drift towards social isolation: “The extent of loneliness in society today, with the attendant problems of mental and physical health, is one indication of how far we have drifted into a society of strangers. But that drift is far from complete – and few people, if asked, would say that a society of strangers represents a vision of society which they desire.”
The bishops suggest that “Intermediate institutions” such as housing associations, credit unions and churches are needed for their role in building stronger communities. A thriving society needs many intermediate institutions, they say, including those who disagree with each other.
The letter specifically avoids advocacy for one any political party but instead encourages those in the Church to seek from political candidates a commitment to building a society of common bonds over individual consumerism.
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