UK Evangelical Alliance Says Young Christians Plan to Vote

LONDON – A low turnout may be expected at the forthcoming general election in the United Kingdom, but the Evangelical Alliance says it believes young evangelical Christians are going to buck that trend and cast their vote.

Its optimism is based on the findings of a survey of 18- to 24-year-olds at last summer's Momentum event by youth ministry Soul Survivor, where 81 percent said they planned to vote, more than double the percentage of people in the same age bracket who voted in the last general election.

"Young evangelicals are going to buck the trend and take part in the coming election," Evangelical Alliance Parliamentary Officer Daniel Webster said. "Rather than being turned off from politics, these findings show that young adults care about a wide range of issues and will take these views to the ballot box."

The Evangelical Alliance launched a website to inform Christians about the policies of the main parties and how a general election works. It also offers churches advice on how to hold hustings events, such as debates or speeches.

Lib Dem MP Steve Webb encouraged Christians to get involved in the election, which is expected to take place on May 6, the same day as local elections.

"Some of the liveliest debates that I take part in at election time are organized by the local churches. It is important for Christians to get informed and get involved at election time, and this is an excellent way for churches to reach out to people in their local area at the same time," he said.

"I would encourage local churches to get together and make sure that hustings are taking place across their constituency."

The launch of the website follows warnings from national church bodies, including the Church of England and United Reformed Church, against allowing extremist political parties to use the churches' premises as a platform.

The Church of England's revised guidance tells churches that they do not need to invite far rightwing politicians to hustings being held in their building and advises against meeting them in case it is seen as a sign of support.

The Rev. Dr. Malcolm Brown, director of Mission and Public Affairs, said at the release of the guidance last month that church leaders have to discern "an appropriate course of action within areas where community relations are often fragile or fragmented" and "sustain the hope and vision that things can be different."