Jubilee Centre has been providing a range of resources for thinking biblically about General Elections since 2005, especially the Votewise series of books published by SPCK. Our approach is not to advise people which way to vote, but instead to offer comment and reflection on how to evaluate the issues and policy options from a biblical perspective. We also provide a platform for Christians to present alternative views.
Ahead of the Referendum on Britain’s EU membership on 23rd June 2016, we have been producing some new resources, as well as bringing out some old ones, to help Christians connect their faith with their voting. Although most Christians recognise this is a weighty decision, they have very little to guide them as believers, and public opinion is almost entirely shaped by the debate in the media. We hope the following will help redress the balance.
EU Briefing Papers:
Briefing Paper #1 – November 2015: (by Guy Brandon)
European Union membership is and has been for decades a vexed political question. In recent years the rise of UKIP has renewed debate about Britain’s place in the EU, with expensive bureaucracy and unchecked immigration taking centre stage. The Bible offers a number of insights into the questions raised by the referendum and Britain’s membership of the EU, including on migration and national autonomy. It also has much to say about the concentration of political and financial power, and the level at which decisions should be taken. These offer a helpful framework for engaging with the debate.
Briefing Paper #2 – Feb 2016 (originally written in Oct 2014 by Philip Powell, Jonathan Tame & Michael Schluter)
The financial crisis which began in 2008 is a symptom of a deeper cultural crisis, which if not addressed, will inevitably recur. The widespread addiction to debt at all levels, the predominance of short-term financial returns as the driving force in the markets, and a progressive individualism in the culture need to be addressed, for all of them are undermining the cherished values of European society. When demographic and social trends such as long term decline in birth rates and the ageing population are factored in, then the continent needs more than a bailout: it requires a deeper reform at the level of core values and vision.
Briefing Paper #3 – March 2016 (by Guy Brandon)
The issue of our EU membership has been contentious for decades, provoking strong responses on either side of the debate. The Prime Minister’s renegotiation of the terms of British membership has secured some guarantees, but the reality of the UK’s ‘special status’ in Europe is open to interpretation. Campaigning is well under way and both sides are strident in their arguments. There are Christians in both camps, and good reasons for both positions, but it is almost impossible to separate fact from propaganda. This article introduces a biblical framework within which we might ask questions around four key issues: sovereignty, migration, business and security.
Briefing Paper #4 – April 2016 (Guy Brandon)
We look at the issue of EU membership in predominantly economic terms. It’s a cost-benefit analysis of the financial implications with regard to jobs, taxes, the effects of bureaucracy, potential welfare expenses, and so on. Even when we’re talking about an issue as emotive as migration, we talk about identity and culture, but we still focus mainly on the economic dimension. This paper draws a few broad principles out of the Bible with the aim of informing the framework within which to explore our economic vision of the EU.
December 1998 – Should Christians support the euro? by Paul Mills and Michael Schluter
On 1 January 1999, the ten currencies of the eleven countries entering Economic and Monetary Union (EMU) became denominations of the euro at irrevocably fixed exchange rates. While monetary unions have been attempted in the past, this is by far the most ambitious project of its kind in history. Its success or failure will determine the prosperity, and perhaps the peace, of Europe for decades to come. This paper examines what the Bible has to say about monetary systems and then derives biblical principles to evaluate political and economic developments of this kind. EMU is assessed against these principles. The conclusion is that because the euro is unlikely to succeed without political integration, Christians should be wary of giving their support.
April 4th 2016: 80 days to go by Jonathan Tame
It’s 80 days until the EU Referendum, and I’ve been recalling the time in 1983 when I visited Brussels for the first time, on an undergraduate field trip. We learned about how decisions made by the European institutions were filtered down to the ten member states of the EEC, and how the overriding vision was to make war between European nations unthinkable. The deadly European conflict of the first half of the 20th century must give ways to fruitful European cooperation in the second.
April 20th 2016: UK-EU ~ Caught in a bad romance? by Guy Brandon
Anyone who has kept up to date on the EU referendum campaigns will recognise there are plenty of reasons to stay in, and plenty to leave. The problem is knowing which is which, since information can be spun and interpreted to make the case each way. There is also more than enough misinformation to go round. ‘Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt’ are a favourite weapon of the Remain campaign, but the Leave campaign are similarly promising safety and prosperity where there are no guarantees.
May 4th 2016: Brexit unless… by Michael Schluter
This article sets out five biblical principles for political and economic life and finds that the EU currently breaches them significantly. It proposes three conditions for remaining within the EU but, in the absence of other EU countries supporting such conditions, argues that British people should vote for Brexit. The conditions are to dismantle the euro, end the internal market for factors of production, and create a relational culture.
This paper was first published by KLICE, and represents the views of the author, not of Jubilee Centre or KLICE.
June 17th 2016 Five lenses on the EU Referendum by Jonathan Tame
There are sincere Christians on both sides of the debate, who draw on biblical principles to support their case. So how do we go about this decision? Others have done a good job of critiquing the arguments from a biblical perspective; what I want to do is try and think about the way we look at Britain’s membership of the EU. The following is the fruit of some theological reflection, in the form of five lenses which I believe are vital to consider when voting in the Referendum.
Resources from other organisations
We also commend the following articles and publications from some of our friends and allies:
- The Kirby Laing Institute for Christian Ethics have a number of good articles on their EU Referendum Page
- THEOS have produced an excellent report by Ben Ryan called A Soul for the Union
- The Evangelical Alliance are publishing a series of articles around the Referendum; the first is here.
Category: News and ReviewsApril, 2016