As theological debates on sexuality and marriage become more and more central, many Christian denominations are being asked to clarify their views.
“Britain belongs in Europe and has a responsibility to share its immense Christian heritage”, says former European Comission worker Michael Gowen. Julia Doxat-Purser: “What relationship can God most use for His Kingdom purposes?”
Should the United Kingdom leave the European Union?
The campaign for the ‘Brexit’ referendum on Thursday 23 June is on. Political parties, the media and many interest groups have already sent out their messages hoping as many citizens as possible will lean towards their line of argument.
“The issue is filling the news bulletins and I have heard people say they are fed up with it already. Quite a number of people are saying they just don't know where to get unbiased information”, former European Comission worker Michael Gowen told Evangelical Focus .
Gowen admits he is “unreservedly for staying” in the European Union. He believes some in the Conservative Party are “using the referendum as an anti-Cameron issue - witness the opportunity of Boris Johnson, who is a European School kid educated in Belgium.”
The former Liberal leader Nick Clegg was right, believes Gowen, when he said the referendum issue “is about what is good for the country and not what is good for a divided Conservative party.”
GOWEN: EU HAS LED TO 70 YEARS OF PEACE
Gowen, who is now retired and lives in the UK, understands that the biggest arguments given by those campaigning against staying in the EU are “regaining control of our borders, our immigration levels and our legislation (though the latter is not as obvious as it is portrayed), reducing the number of foreign workers and so improving job prospects and wages for British workers.”
Nevertheless,“the most convincing argument for the UK to stay in is that the EU has delivered 70 years of peace and unparalleled prosperity for Western Europe, something which has never before happened in history. It is much better for us to argue with each other around the negotiating table than kill each other on the battle field.”
‘SHARED EUROPEAN CHRISTIAN HERITAGE’
“A close second is that Britain belongs in Europe and has a responsibility to share its immense Christian heritage with the other countries of Europe”, Gowen adds.
“If only the British church would stop seeing threats coming from Europe and see instead the opportunities for spreading the good news of Jesus Christ”, he concludes.
DOXAT-PURSER: HOW DOES GOD WANT US TO RELATE TO OUR NEIGHBOURS?
“I hope Christians will pray and take time to allow God to renew their minds, and not just be moulded by the world”, Socio-political representative of the European Evangelical Alliance Julia Doxat-Purser also told Evangelical Focus.
She is also from the UK and would “love” that Christians in the country would “consider” things like: “What does the Bible say about good governance, the nations and foreigners? What kind of country does God want the UK to be? What should our priorities be?”
It is important to try to understand God’s perspective of practical realities involved in the vote, believes Doxat-Purser.
“How does the Lord want us to relate to our European neighbours – migrants in the UK as well as the other European countries? How does He want us to relate to the rest of the world? What relationship can God most use for His Kingdom purposes? What are the missional consequences of remaining and leaving the EU?”
KEYS TO UNDERSTAND THE REFERENDUM
“Should the United Kingdom remain a member of the European Union or leave the European Union?” is the question for UK citizens to respond in June. The result is not legally binding, and any decision will have to be approved in the House of Commons.
EU citizens in the UK will not be able to vote in the referendum.
Against the opinion of half of his party, Prime Minister David Cameron (Conservatives) will campaign in favour of keeping the UK inside the 28 nation bloc.
The UKIP (United Kingdom Independence Party), which won the last European Parliament elections in the country, will campaign in favour of leaving. About half of Conservative MP’s (which have pledged to be “neutral”) and some Labour MPs are also for the “No.”
Most of the Labour party, the other half of the Conservative Party, the Liberal Democrats, and regional parties like SNP, Palid Cymru will campaign for the “Yes” vote.