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Election 2010 from a faith view by John Florance
11th May 2010

For example, I can't remember reading of so many election meetings organised by churches across the country.

It seems that half of all constituencies have seen church hustings.

And only last week a report in the Church Times said that the Christian vote could influence results in some marginals.

Well, when the figures are well and truly crunched perhaps we shall see.

Certainly the Archbishops of York and Canterbury wrote public letters saying that Christians should vote to make Britain a more just society with a fairer distribution of wealth.

On the other hand, matters such as abortion, adoption, genetic research and manipulation, subjects about which many Christians feel strongly, have not figured hugely in the public campaigns of the main parties.

I spoke to the Bishop of Leicester, the Rt. Revd. Tim Stevens about what he made of the campaign from a faith point of view.

He was very encouraged by the fact that so many churches had organised hustings during the election.

He made the point that the church provided a politically neutral space where such things could happen.

Faith in politics

He also welcomed the fact that more than 80 Muslim candidates stood in the election and a number Hindus as well.

As a result of the poll we now have three women MPs who are Muslims.

This has been welcomed by the Muslim Council of Britain which issued a statement congratulating "the many British Muslims who have been elected or re-elected: including for the first time in British history, three Muslim women.

"This election is, moreover, groundbreaking as we welcome two Muslim MPs from the Conservative Party for the first time.

"We hope they serve all of their constituents well and are role models for Muslim communities everywhere."

Bishop Tim agreed that it was good that faith communities are increasingly involving themselves in politics and ultimately being represented in Westminster.

Not a person of faith

Finally, I mentioned that in America religion really figures hugely in politics, whereas in this country we don't bat an eyelid when Nick Clegg says he is not a person of faith.

This is impossible to imagine on the other side of the Atlantic!

Bishop Tim made the point that this was because of our two very different constitutional settlements.

Personally, I cannot help thinking that it is far healthier for those who seek high office to be able to say what they really think rather than have to pretend to something in order to get elected.