With four million regular church attenders in Britain, on average 6,000 per parliamentary constituency, the move has real potential to have a significant impact on who is elected, especially in marginal seats.
The document sets out a broad range of policies that unite churches in the UK, including support for marriage, freedom for those of faith to live their lives according to their beliefs and opposition to assisted suicide and euthanasia.
It also calls for Christians to support, protect, and be advocates for children born and unborn, and all those who are sick, disabled, addicted, elderly, poor, exploited, trafficked or exploited by unjust trade, aid or debt policies.
The timing of the launch of Westminster 2010 ahead of the call of the General election is designed to send a clear message to all parliamentary candidates that Christians will be supporting those who will both promote policies that protect vulnerable people and also respect the right of Christians to hold, express and live according to Christian beliefs.
Make your voice heard – click here to sign the Declaration
The call comes in the wake of an increase in reports of Christians facing discrimination in all walks of life, including the widely reported cases of discrimination against Christian workers, Shirley Chaplin, Lillian Ladele and Caroline Petrie.
Earlier this year Christian leaders united to challenge the Equalities Bill, which would have made it illegal to insist that their employees including the clergy believed in God and the teachings of the Bible.
Westminster 2010 marks a significant escalation in the battle by church leaders to protect Britain’s Christian heritage, which they feel is under threat.
The Christian leaders plan to target Members of Parliament and candidates who are seeking election to pledge that they will ‘respect, uphold and protect the right of Christians to hold and express Christian beliefs and act according to Christian conscience’.
The signatories of Westminster 2010 include the former Archbishop of Canterbury Lord Carey, former Bishop of Rochester Michael Nazir-Ali and Cardinal O’Brien, leader of the Catholic Church in Scotland.
They are joined by other leaders of major Christian denominations and church networks, Christian charities and principals of three leading UK Bible Colleges. The signatories invite all Christians holding historic Christian beliefs to join them in signing the declaration.
The signatories affirm their adherence to historic Christian beliefs celebrated at Easter such as the divinity of Christ and his death and resurrection and then their commitment to protecting life, marriage and conscience.
The declaration begins, ‘Protecting human life, protecting marriage, and protecting freedom of conscience are foundational for creating and maintaining strong families, caring communities and a just society. Our Christian faith compels us to speak and act in defence of all these.’
The leaders then affirm their commitment as UK citizens ‘both to exercise social responsibility in working for the common good and also to be subject to all governing authorities and obey them except when they require us to act unjustly’.
They affirm their belief that ‘all human life has intrinsic and equal dignity and worth and that it is the duty of the state to protect the vulnerable’ and make a commitment to ‘support, protect, and be advocates for… children born and unborn, and all those who are sick, disabled, addicted, elderly, in single parent families, poor, exploited, trafficked, appropriately seeking asylum, threatened by environmental change, or exploited by unjust trade, aid or debt policies’.
The leaders specifically pledge ‘to work to protect the life of every human being from conception to its natural end’ and signal their intention to ‘refuse to comply with any directive that compels us to participate in abortion, destructive embryo research, assisted suicide and euthanasia’.
They pledge to support marriage – ‘the lifelong covenantal union of one man and one woman as husband and wife’ – as ‘the only context for sexual intercourse’ and ‘the most important unit for sustaining the health, education, and welfare of all’. Edicts forcing Christians ‘to equate any other form of sexual partnership with marriage’ are rejected.
Whilst the leaders ‘count it a special privilege to live in a country where all citizens have the right to participate in the political process’ and ‘pledge to do what (they) can to ensure our laws are just and fair, particularly in protecting vulnerable people’ they also commit themselves to ‘seek to ensure that religious liberty and freedom of conscience are unequivocally protected against interference by the state and other threats, not only to individuals but also to institutions including families, charities, schools and religious communities’.