The manifestos of the main parties standing for the Westminster General Election on 7th May 2015 have now been published. There are many issues across the full range of policies on which Christians and those of other faiths will be interested. The following is not an analysis of these, but are manifesto extracts where religion, faith and belief are given explicit mention in the text.
p.41: “we will continue to support essential roof repairs for our cathedrals and churches, along with other places of worship.”
p.46: “We have always believed that churches, faith groups and other voluntary groups play an important and longstanding role in this country’s social fabric, running foodbanks, helping the homeless, and tackling debt and addictions, such as alcoholism and gambling.”
p.55: “We want people to integrate fully into British society, but that does not mean they should have to give up the things they hold dear in their religion. So while we will always make sure the Food Standards Agency properly regulates the slaughter of livestock and poultry, we will protect methods of religious slaughter, such as shechita and halal.”
p.76: “Over the last five years, we have stood up for what we believe in: intervening to stop a massacre in Libya, leading the world in tackling sexual violence in conflict, and helping women and children who have fled violence in Syria. We will continue this leadership. We will stand up for the freedom of people of all religions – and non-religious people – to practise their beliefs in peace and safety, for example by supporting persecuted Christians in the Middle East.”
p.54: “To defeat the threats of Islamist terrorism, we must also engage with the personal, cultural and wider factors that turn young people to extremism….We will overhaul the programme to involve communities in countering extremist propaganda, stopping young people being groomed, and also building resilient institutions for social integration.”
p.54: “We applaud those faith communities who have pioneered an inter-faith dialogue for the common good. We will take a zero-tolerance approach to hate crime, such as anti-Semitism and Islamophobia. We will challenge prejudice before it grows, whether in schools, universities or on social media.”
p.76: “We will appoint a Global Envoy for Religious Freedom, and establish a multi-faith advisory council on religious freedom within the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.”
p.37: “We are proud of the arts in Britain and will support them properly, working to deliver access for all, regardless of income, ethnicity, gender, age, belief, sexuality or disability.”
p.58: “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 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.”
p.60: “To ensure all children learn about a wide range of religious and nonreligious world views, religious education will be included in the core curriculum; however we will give schools the freedom to set policy on whether to hold acts of collective worship, while ensuring any such acts are strictly optional.”
p.105: “we must continue our work to fight prejudice and discrimination based on race, age, religion or belief, gender, sexuality, and disability. We will enact the remaining unimplemented clauses of the Equality Act 2010.”
p.107: “Support schools to tackle homophobic and transphobic bullying and discrimination, and to establish a tolerant and inclusive environment for all their pupils. We will remove schools’ exemption from the bar on harassment in these areas while protecting the right to teach about religious doctrine.”
p.107: “Permit humanist weddings and opposite sex civil partnerships, and liberalise the rules about the location, timing and content of wedding ceremonies.”
p.108: “To tackle religious discrimination and support faith and belief communities in working together we will:
- Continue support for the Interfaith Network to promote strong and sustainable relations between different faith communities.
- Support projects aimed at tackling intolerance such as Show Racism the Red Card and the Anne Frank Trust UK.
- Work closely with faith and community organisations, such as the Community Security Trust (which works to protect the Jewish community against anti-Semitic attacks) and the Muslim Council of Britain, to prevent hate crime, including at places of worship like synagogues and mosques. We are determined to combat anti-Semitism and anti-Muslim hate in the UK and internationally.”
p.109: “Prohibit discrimination on the grounds of religion in the provision of public services.”
p.125: “Work with religious and community leaders, civil society groups and social media sites to counter the narratives put forward by extremists, and create the space for the expression of contrary viewpoints and religious interpretations…. Ensure efforts to tackle terrorism do not stigmatise or alienate Muslims or any other ethnic or faith group, and that government supports communities to help prevent those at risk of radicalisation from being drawn into illegal activity. Review the process of assessing threats against different ethnic and religious communities to ensure all groups in the UK are properly protected.”
p.153: “The recent Islamist extremist attacks on journalists in Europe are a sharp reminder of the need to protect freedom of speech and belief internationally. We will appoint an Ambassador-level Champion for Freedom of Belief to drive British diplomatic efforts in this field, and we will campaign for the abolition of blasphemy, sedition, apostasy and criminal libel laws worldwide, having already been responsible for ending them in this country.”
p.27: “A far-reaching child care review. A misplaced sensitivity to issues of race and religion, combined with fear, has been shown to have stopped many investigations into the abuse of children.”
p.31: “[Schools:] We will continue to monitor British values, but with a view towards combatting extremism and radicalisation, rather than criticising widely-held Judeo- Christian beliefs.”
p.47: “Insist on formal non-stun training and certification for all religious slaughtermen to ensure the highest standards are adhered to.”
p.61: “UKIP will promote a unifying British culture, open to anyone who wishes to identify with Britain and British values, regardless of their ethnic or religious background. This is genuine inclusiveness. We reject multiculturalism, the doctrine whereby different ethnic and religious groups are encouraged to maintain all aspects of their cultures, instead of integrating into our majority culture, even if some of their values and customs conflict with British ones. We believe multiculturalism has led to an alarming fragmentation of British society.”
• “Recognise that British values include tolerance of religion. UKIP is committed to protecting religious freedoms for all believers in the UK, in accordance with Article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. We believe, however, that those faiths and beliefs must exist firmly within a British framework. We will not condone any faith position which is itself intolerant and refuses to recognise the human rights of others.
• Uphold the integrity of British law, ensuring it applies to all, equally. We will not condone parallel or conflicting systems that deny equality under the law.
• Insist that those attending faith-based tribunals must be informed that they cannot be forced to attend and that the rulings from such hearings may not be legally binding under British law
• Review funding for public bodies which promote divisiveness through multiculturalism.”
UKIP has also published a ‘Christian Manifesto’
p.8: “Ensure respect for everyone whatever their ethnicity, gender, age, religious belief or non-belief, sexual orientation, class, size, disability or other status.”
p.37: “We will phase out public funding of schools run by religious organisations. Schools may teach about religions, but should not encourage adherence to any particular religious beliefs.”
p.38: “Ensuring that all schools that serve particular vulnerable communities, for example the Jewish, Muslim or Sikh communities, are adequately protected from sectarian attacks.”
p.69: “Uphold the principles of freedom of speech and peaceful protest, including support for vulnerable communities of all religious faiths and none.”
p. 21: “we need a proportionate response to extremism. That is why we will support targeted, and properly overseen, measures to identify suspected extremists and, if necessary, examine their online activity and communications.”
p.33: “Our Welsh civic identity is inclusive, offered to anybody who chooses to make Wales their home. This will be promoted through schools, by faith and community organisations, encouraging everybody in Wales to participate in our wider Welsh society, in contrast to the UK Government’s divisive and stigmatising proposals that blame particular groups.”
p.17: “Supporting Persecuted Minorities. In the last Parliament, the DUP urged the government to take seriously international human rights abuses against Christians and other faith groups. We continue to be concerned about the persecution of religious minorities. We will continue to use our influence to ensure that this issue is taken seriously and that the Foreign and Commonwealth Office actively engage with the leadership of the countries in which these human rights violations occur.”
The Christian Party, which is fielding nine candidates in the General Election, has also published a manifesto.
A summary of the main policy proposals of all main parties fielding candidates for the General Election can be found on the BBC website.
General Election Resources from Christian and Other Faith Organisations
Church of England – House of Bishops’ pastoral letter
Churches Together in Britain and Ireland election resources
Catholic Church in England and Wales – Bishops’ letter
CAFOD and Caritas Social Action Network (CSAN): election briefing
Baptist Union of Great Britain, the Methodist Church, the United Reformed Church and the Church of Scotland: Faith in Politics: Love Your Neighbour: Think, Pray, Vote & Joint Public Issues Team website
Salvation Army: Asking Questions That Matter
Quakers in Britain election resources
Black Church Political Mobilisation: A Manifesto for Action – National Church Leaders Forum (NCLF).
Christians in Politics: Show Up campaign
Evangelical Alliance election website
Christian Concern – the Power of the Cross
Faith Action manifesto
Theos: Election 2015 blog
Kirby Laing Institute for Christian Ethics (series looking at the role played by Christianity in the history and thinking of the UK’s main political parties)
Jubilee Centre: Votewise 2015 – available to buy from their website
Board of Deputies of British Jews manifesto
Hindu Council UK manifesto
Muslim Council of Britain: Fairness, not Favours, key issues affecting British Muslims ahead of the General Election.
Sikh Network / Sikh Federation Manifesto
Spot something missing? Please contact us.